- Table of Symbols and Abbreviations
- About the Authors
- The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect
- Philosophy of Language
- Narratology and Literary Linguistics
- Computational Linguistics
- Universals and Typology
- Discourse and Text
- Diachrony and Grammaticalization
- Language Contact
- Creole Languages
- Primary Language Acquisition
- Second Language Acquisition
- Remoteness Distinctions
- The Surcomposé Past Tense
- Bound Tenses
- Embedded Tenses
- Nominal Tense
- Lexical Aspect
- Verbal Aspect
- Perfective and Imperfective Aspect
- Progressive and Continuous Aspect
- Habitual and Generic Aspect
- Habituality, Pluractionality, and Imperfectivity
- Perfect Tense and Aspect
- Resultative Constructions
- Time in Sentences with Modal Verbs
- Evidentiality and Mirativity
Abstract and Keywords
In English and several other European languages, the perfect tense is a complex morpho-syntactic construction made of an auxiliary (“have,” “be”) followed by a past participle, as in “Jamie has eaten all the chocolate biscuits.” The auxiliary appears in the past, present, and future tenses, thus creating past, present, and future perfects. The perfect has been a problematic category for scholars across time due to the multiplicity of its meanings/uses within a given language and to the variation in meanings/uses of what has been labeled “perfect” across languages. In an attempt to provide a clearer understanding of this complex semantic category, this article looks at theories of the perfect, focusing on its semantics and pragmatics. It also discusses whether the perfect is a tense, an aspect, or both; how pragmatic factors and discourse relations affect the use of the perfect; and concludes by examining the place of the perfect in a tense/aspect system more generally, focusing on how it relates to categories such as resultatives and the simple past tense, as well as to habituals and prospectives.
Marie-Eve Ritz is Associate Professor in Linguistics at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and her interest in the semantics and pragmatics of tense and aspect started with a post-doctoral fellowship at UWA. She has published papers on non-standard uses of the present perfect in Australian English and on the French passé composé. She is currently involved in a project examining tense, aspect, modality and evidentiality in Australian Aboriginal languages, which has led to a first publication on the future in Martuthunira. Work in progress includes analysis of past and perfect tenses in Panyjima.
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