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This page pertains to UD version 2.

Aspect: aspect

Values: Hab Imp Iter Perf Prog Prosp Frus Freq Freq

Cross-linguistically, aspect is typically a feature of verbs. In Nheengatu, it also occurs with other parts of speech, e.g., nouns, subordinating conjunctions, adverbs, and specially particles.

Aspect is a feature that specifies duration of the action in time, whether the action has been completed etc. In some languages (e.g. English), some tenses are actually combinations of tense and aspect. In other languages (e.g. Czech), aspect and tense are separate, although not completely independent of each other.

In Czech and other Slavic languages, aspect is a lexical feature. Pairs of imperfective and perfective verbs exist and are often morphologically related but the space is highly irregular and the verbs are considered to belong to separate lemmas.

Imp: imperfect aspect

The action took / takes / will take some time span and there is no information whether and when it was / will be completed.


Perf: perfect aspect

The action has been / will have been completed. Since there is emphasis on one point on the time scale (the point of completion), this aspect does not work well with the present tense. For example, Czech morphology can create present forms of perfective verbs but these actually have a future meaning.


Prosp: prospective aspect

In general, prospective aspect can be described as relative future: the action is/was/will be expected to take place at a moment that follows the reference point; the reference point itself can be in past, present or future. In the English sentence When I got home yesterday, John called and said he would arrive soon, the last clause (he would arrive soon) is in prospective aspect. Nevertheless, English does not have overt affixal morphemes dedicated to the prospective aspect, and we do not need the label in English. But other languages do; the -ko suffix in Basque is an example.

Note that this value was called Pro in UD v1 and it has been renamed Prosp in UD v2.


Prog: progressive aspect

English progressive tenses (I am eating, I have been doing …) have this aspect. They are constructed analytically (auxiliary + present participle) but the -ing participle is so bound to progressive meaning that it seems a good idea to annotate it with this feature (we have to distinguish it from the past participle somehow; we may use both the “Tense” and the “Aspect” features).

In languages other than English, the progressive meaning may be expressed by morphemes bound to the main verb, which makes this value even more justified. Example is Turkish with its two distinct progressive morphemes, -yor and -mekte.


Hab: habitual aspect

English simple present has this aspect.


Iter: iterative / frequentative aspect

Denotes repeated action. Attested e.g. in Hungarian. Iteratives also exist in Czech with this name but their meaning is rather habitual. They can be formed only from imperfective verbs and they are usually not classified as a separate aspect; they are just Aspect=Imp.

Note: This value is new in UD v2 but a similar value has been used in UD v1 as language-specific for Hungarian, though it was called frequentative there (Freq).


Frus: frustative aspect

“Frustrative is a grammatical marker that expresses the non-realization of some expected outcome implied by the proposition expressed in the marked clause.” (Overall 2017)

“The frustrative is a functional element found in a number of languages which expresses, in its typical use, that an action did not have its intended consequences […]” (Salanova)

‘The frustrative particle in Kimaragang marks unrealized expectations or intentions, counter-actuals, etc.” (Kroeger 2017)


Kroeger, Paul. 2017. Frustration, culmination, and inertia in Kimaragang grammar. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1): 56. 1–29, DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.146

Overall, S. (2017). A Typology of Frustrative Marking in Amazonian Languages. In A. Aikhenvald & R. Dixon (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Typology (Cambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics, pp. 477-512). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316135716.015

Salanova, Andrés Pablo. A semantics for frustratives. https://www.mcgill.ca/linguistics/files/linguistics/a_semantics_for_frustratives.pdf


Examples cited by Avila (2021) (our English translations):

Freq: frequentative aspect

The frequentative aspect is marked in Nheengatu with the suffixes -wara and -wera. These suffixes attach to verbs or nouns, adverbs, etc. conveying the clause predicate, see Avila (2021, p. 809-810 and p. 824-825). They express that a state or event holds on continually or occurs repeatedly with a very high frequency. While -wara applies to predicates denoting present events, -wera specify that the event is located in the past. Typically, -wara translates as always in English.


van Geenhoven, Veerle. 2005. Atelicity, pluractionality, and adverbial quantification. In H. J. Verkuyl, H. de Swart & A. van Ho out (Eds.), Perspectives on Aspect (Studies In Theoretical Psycholinguistics, pp. 107-124). Dordrecht: Springer.


Examples cited by Avila (2021) (our English translations):

Compl: completive aspect

Following Avila (2021, p. 586), the completive aspect is marked in Nheengatu with the particle pawa (often reduced to páu or ), which Cruz (2011, p. 396) analyses as incorporation of the homonymous verb meaning ‘to finish’. The completive aspect indicates “that an action has been performed thoroughly or to completion” (Bybee; Perkins; Pagliuca, 1994, p. 18). Nheengatu sentences with the completive aspect often correspond to English translation equivalents with adverbs such as “completely”. In other situations, completion of the event expressed by the clause main predicate denotes involvement of all members of a plural group referred to by the subject in case of an intransitive verb or the object in case of a transitive verb (Bybee; Perkins; Pagliuca, 1994, p. 57).


Bybee, J., Perkins, R., Pagliuca, W. 1994. The evolution of grammar: tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: Univesity of Chicago Press.


Examples cited by Avila (2021) (our English translations):

Aspect in other languages: [arr] [bej] [bg] [bm] [cs] [el] [eme] [ga] [gn] [gub] [hu] [hy] [hyw] [jaa] [ka] [ky] [la] [mdf] [myu] [myv] [pcm] [qpm] [ru] [say] [sl] [tpn] [tr] [tt] [u] [uk] [urb] [urj] [yrl]