TASK 2: ASPECT
If the present tense refers to a what the speaker sees as current reality, and the past tense refers to remote situations, the aspects help us express how we see the relationship between the verb and its context:
What does the PERFECT express?
Have you ever been to Canada?
I’m hungry – I haven’t eaten lunch yet!
His stomach was rumbling all through the meeting because he hadn’t had time to eat breakfast that morning!
The PERFECT aspect LOOKS BACK IN ORDER TO EXPLAIN A PARTICULAR MOMENT.
Why would anyone ask the first question? Perhaps they need information on Canada, perhaps they are going to Canada soon … what is important is the knowledge that the person who may have been to Canada has NOW.
I’m explaining why I am hungry NOW
We are explaining why his stomach was rumbling IN THE MEETING. This is the focal moment of the sentence. The moment in which he did or didn’t have breakfast is irrelevant.
What about the CONTINUOUS?
I am sitting at my computer, when I should really be helping my daughter with her homework.
He broke his leg while he was playing football
While he was doing the shopping, his wife was enjoying some time alone watching the football on the TV.
The CONTINUOUS aspect DESCRIBES AN ACTION IN PROGRESS
When we use the continuous, we often imagine the action happening, as if we were watching a film of it
This is why we DON’T USE CONTINUOUS FORMS for STATIC verbs, such as KNOW, UNDERSTAND, SEE, HEAR, which are not actions in progress. In fact, we cannot really DO these, as they are INVOLUNTARY and RECEPTIVE, and are, to a large extent, OUT OF OUR CONTROL; Either we understand or we don’t, we see something or we don’t, …
This can be extended to all ING forms of the verb. When we use the GERUND, our mind’s eye sees the action in progress; the INFINITIVE is more results oriented:
“I like GOING to the dentist” is very unusual; it focuses on the PROCESS – sitting in the chair, looking up the dentist’s nose, with the teeth in your numbed mouth being drilled!
“I like TO GO to the dentist every year” makes sense; it focuses on the result – I know that my teeth are healthy
What about a combination of both – the PERFECT CONTINUOUS?
I’ve been working all day
He was out of breath. He seemed to have been running.
A combination of RETROSPECTION (perfect) and PROCESS (continuous), this EXPLAINS a moment by DESCRIBING actions that lead up to that moment.
TASK 3: MODAL VERBS
What are the modal verbs?:
Give an example of a MODAL PERFECT in context.
Give an example of a MODAL CONTINUOUS in context.
What do the different modal verbs express about the main verbs they are used with?