From Time to Time Part 2: How Long and How Often?

26 Aug

Jean E Levy

big ben

This POST discusses the representation of TIME in narrative… although I must begin with a bit of grammar … and some tedious terminology.

But don’t let that confuse you.doubtful

Because it’s the ideas, rather than the terminology, that count …

In many languages, including English, verbs are used to indicate actions in TIME, and this is done via a number of tense and aspect combinations. Tenses locate actions along a linear timeline, revealing whether these actions are PAST, PRESENT, or FUTURE actions:


ASPECT is different. ASPECT provides extra information about actions wherever they sit along this timeline. ASPECT reveals duration, recurrence and regularity of actions and is, therefore, important to the PACE of a narrative.

Let’s consider two major VERB ASPECTS:

1. PERFECTIVE ASPECT – which describes an action that was, is or will be complete or limited.

                           Joe sat outside the Principal’s Office.

                           I smile nervously.

                           We will wait.

                           They have arrived

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