According to the definition, morphological aspect presents the reported event or state of affairs as if viewed either from inside the event (‘in progress’) or outside the event (‘as a whole’).

For example:

  1. Perfect Aspect: have + past.participle a. John had eaten an apple. b. John has eaten an apple. c. John will have eaten an apple.
  2. Progressive Aspect: be + present.participle a. John was eating an apple. b. John is eating an apple. c. John will be eating an apple.

But I'm wondering whether morphological aspect only refers to perfect aspect and progressive aspect? If not, what does this sentence "John eats apple" belong to?

  • 2
    Perfect is not perfective, "outside the event (‘as a whole’). There are tons of research on aspect freely available online e.g. grammaticalfeatures.net/features/aspect.html#fourth
    – Alex B.
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 16:30
  • According to the definition - whose definition?
    – Alex B.
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 16:32
  • 3
    Indeed. John ate an apple is (usually) perfective. The perfect is outside the perfective/imperfective division: not all grammarians call it an aspect IIRC.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 16:47
  • I think this is a question about English grammar, and traditional English grammar at that.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 19:34
  • 1
    Since you're asking explicitly about morphological aspect you need examples from a language that has this kind of aspect (Slavic, Pashto...).
    – Atamiri
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 23:53

1 Answer 1


Part of the difficulty in discussing aspect in English is that English is a tense-prominent language rather than an aspect-prominent language. So the main (and obligatory) grammatical marker on English verbs is past/non-past tense, not perfective/imperfective aspect.

English has one main aspectual suffix, -ing. It marks progressive aspect, which is a sub-category of imperfective aspect.

The sentence 'John eats apples' communicates the semantics of habitual aspect, however there is no morphological aspect. In other languages the habitual is a sub-category of imperfective aspect, but in English it uses the simple verb form, which is normally considered to have perfective aspect.

To get a better grasp on aspect it would be better to investigate it in some aspect-prominent languages, such as the Slavic languages.

  • Thank you for your answer!
    – ronghe
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 4:33

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