Monday, 10 October 2011

On continuous aspect

Another bothering issue in my classes has been represented by the concept of Aspect, which shows in fact, the presence of the continuous tenses in the English language.    
 I would like to mention this topic in my articles due to the fact that at some point, my students seem to fail to understand the essence of Aspect in English. I do not blame them because this is not a feature common to many languages. So, they cannot associate this with a trait of their mother tongues. Theoretically speaking, Aspect is a feature common to Germanic languages and also common to the Russian language. Because my approach is purely theoretical, based upon what I read in books, I would like my Russian readers to state if there are indeed continuous tenses in their language.
For these reasons, continuous tenses are hard to grasp, also   because being added to the simple tenses, the number of tenses in English mounts to a staggering figure.  
To understand and also to use the tenses correctly, firstly you should understand that every tense in English has a continuous counterpart and all continuous tenses share the same features, added upon the description of each tense. Try to familiarize yourself with the rules of each simple tense and remember that the continuous tenses are based upon the same description with a continuous meaning. So they are easier than the simple tenses, provided you understand the structure of the tenses in the English language. Also and I speak for Romanian speakers (or romance languages speakers), do not forget that the tenses in our native languages are based upon other patterns and rules totally different from the rules of the English language.  
When you converse or write a text in English, try not to associate the temporal feature of your language to the English one, but to use the tenses according to the type of action they show. A good example in this respect would be the use of The Present Perfect Simple. Students make many mistakes because the sentences in the Present Perfect Simple have a past meaning, due to the fact that in our language we do not have such a tense so, they tend to use in English a past tense too.
All in all, tenses are not so difficult, they are different and you basically need a lot of practice to master them.


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