Aspect – aspect


Let's Define It!

What's an *aspect*?

When applied to a verb, the grammatical notion of aspect can seem obscure to many -- and for good reasons. I mean, c'mon, normal people just don't walk around thinking about the "aspect" of a certain verb whenever talking to a friend or a relative.

However, if you're into studying grammar and verb conjugations, you might have encountered this term a few times when reading about verb tenses and modes. So what is a grammatical aspect? What does it do really?

An aspect is related to a verb form and provides information about the continuity, completedness or repetition of that verb.

  • In simple terms, an aspect indicates whether an action is completed, in progress (continuous) or non-completed.
  • An aspect does NOT relate to the moment the speaker enunciates his/her sentence - (The verb tense is used for that purpose.)
  • In other words, an aspect gives information about the evolution and progression of the verb itself.

Check this out:

Quand Marie arrivera à la maison, le film sera déjà terminé. / By the time Mary arrives home, the movie will be already finished. 

While the tense of the sentence is future (arrivera) and future anterior (sera terminé), the aspect of these verbs is respectively inaccompli (imperfective) and accompli (perfective).

The aspect of "arrivera" is imperfect because Marie is perceived here as arriving home, that is, walking and opening the door of the house and stepping into it, while the aspect of "sera terminé" is seen as perfective because the movie will be over, done, finished by the time she arrives.


Let's Pronounce It!

What does it sound like in French?


Let's Have an Example or Two!

Can a little reinforcement do the trick?

Here, I'm providing a few sentences examples of with their aspects explained.

  1. Il est debout. /He is standing. (continuous aspect)
  2. J'ai mangé mon dîner. / I ate my dinner. (perfective aspect)
  3. Salut! Je vais acheter du pain. /Hi, I'm going to buy bread. (prospective aspect, used to express the idea of plans/projects)


Let's Take a Quiz!

What did you learn?