Tense, Voice, Mood and Aspect

Hi teachers,

To my knowledge, verb is divided into four elements, that is, tense, voice, mood and aspect. We have 12 tenses, 2 voices, 3 moods and ??? aspects.

My question is:

[color=blue]How many aspects does verb have? [color=blue]What are they?
Please give me example for each of them.

Thanks beforehand


The aspects are: simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous. I think those are all the English aspects.

Hi Mister Micawber,

Thanks for your help.
[color=blue]Can I say we have 4 aspects?
Could you give sample examples for each one of them?

Thanks in advance


I think there are only four basic ones in English, though some linguistics examine more deeply into such as ‘iterative’ aspect (I kept beating my wife) and ‘habitual’ aspect (I used to beat my wife).

But c’mon, Jupiter-- show your mettle! I’m sure that you can come up with sentences showing verbs in those 4 aspects.

Hi jupiter,
Just one amendment. There aren’t 12 tenses in English. There are the following tense-forms(16 in the active voice) :the present indefinite, the past indefinite, the future indefinite, the future indefinite in the past; the pres.continuous, the past continuous, the future continuous, the future continuous in the past; the present perfect, the past perfect, the future perfect, the future perfect in the past; the present perfect continuous, the past perfect continuous, the future perfect continuous, the future perfect continuous in the past.
8 tense- forms in passive voice: present indefinite passive, past indefinite passive, future indefinite passive; present perfect passive, past perfect passive, future perfect passive, present cont. passive, past cont. passive

I think we need to back up here a bit, folks.

Some of those tenses of yours sound rather non-English, Pamela, specifically the ‘indefinite’. Who calls what that? Also I think you (and now that I re-read, Jupiter also) are mixing your tenses in with your aspects and voices.

There seem to be only two distinct verb tenses (= referring to time) in English: the past and the non-past. In school, of course we learned ‘future’ tense, which is not a distinct verb form, but a combination of several alternative ways of expression. However, contention continues.

I vote for (in finite English verbs):

2 tenses (past, non-past)
4 aspects (as above)
2 voices (active, passive)
3 moods (indicative, subjunctive, imperative)

Other qualities that appear in verb phrases include:

polarity (affirmative, negative)
case (oops! not in English verbs)
person/number (only appears in 3rd singular present aspects)

Why not to say
Tenses (present, past, future and future in the past)?
I know that there are
4 aspects (indefinite, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous)
2 voices (active, passive) NB:As you know, MM, there were originally three voices:active, passive and neuter- reflexive . The latter is not already considered, yes.
3 moods (indicative, subjunctive, imperative)

Hi Pamela

That’s a very comprehensive list. :smiley: I’d also been curious about which 12 tenses are on Jupiter’s list.

The problem with counting these sorts of things is that linguistics experts themselves often disagree on the specifics. For example, some linguists vehemently claim there are only 2 true verb tenses in English (present and past). :shock:

Even though your list is very good, there are definitely people who would argue that it’s not 100% correct. For example, you left out present perfect continuous in your passive list. Why? Probably because it is so rarely used, it’s hardly worth mentioning. But it is nevertheless theoretically possible (and probably actually used on rare occasions):

That part of the project has been being supervised by Howard recently.” :shock:

The exact of “number of verb aspects” is probably also argued by various linguistics experts. I’m a linguistics “peon” (i.e., I don’t have a PhD in linguistics, so I’m not a member of the linguistics “elite” ;)), but, all the same, I think MM’s aspect list looks pretty good. :lol:


Hi Amy and thanks for your feedback!
I totally agree with you and observe that any other language consists of contradictions and moot points :smiley: