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The aspect can be described as the way the action, expressed by a verb, is viewed by the speaker at the time of the conversation. No distinction is made in time, as in English, but in the nature of the act.

Three basic forms of the aspect:

aspects description formation
Imperfective aspect The action is repeated and/or still in progress. The end of the action is not yet known. Stem 1
Perfective aspect the action is a single completed occurrence Stem 2
Perfect aspect complete action in the past with result in the present, past or future auxiliary verb

The next grammatical tenses of a verb which are formed with the imperfective aspect (stem 1):

  • The present tense - «ο ενεστώτας». *
  • The imperfect tense - «ο παρατατικός».
  • The future (continuous) - «o μέλλοντας 1».
  • The subjunctive (mood) - «υποταχτική 1».
  • The imperative (mood) - «πτοσταχτική 1». *

When the activity meets the following criteria:

  • The action or event is still in progress.
  • The action or event is repeated or is routine.
  • The action or event has an open ending.

«Ο ενεστώτας»: When forming this tense it is important to know that two exist in which the verbs have been divided in the first conjugation, A and the second conjugation, B.

The first conjugation group can be subdivided in 1) the active verbs with the stress on the last syllable of the stem e.g. «ντύνω» with the stem «ντύν-» and the medial passive form with the stress on the third syllable from behind «ντύνομαι», 2) The merged verbs, of which there are only a few, like «ακούω» - to hear, to listenand «κλαίω» - to cry, to weep, where in fact an invisible «-γ-» is dropped by forming the stem. The second conjugation, B, subdivided in 1) a group with the stress on «-άω» or «-ώ» for the active verbs and on «-ιέμαι» for the passive verbs, 2) The group with only the ending on «-ώ» for the active vebs and «-oύμαι» for the passive verbs.

«Ο παρατατικός» and «o μέλλοντας 1» are both characterized by the use of stem 1. But for «ο παρατατικός» there must be a distinction between the first and the second conjugation.

* This mood, with the imperfective aspect and stem 1, is only used in the so-called medial verbs (verbs where the subject performs the action on him-/her- or itself), e.g. «ντύνω» - «ντύνου» or «ντύνεστε» - get dressed. This mood is formed by using the ending «-ου» added to stem 1 «ντύν-» with the stress on the second last syllable and by using the ending «-εστε» with the stress on the third last syllable for the polite conjugation.

The next grammatical tenses of a verb are formed with the perfective aspect (stem 2):

  • The present tense - «ο ενεστώτας». *
  • The aorist tense - «ο αόριστος».
  • The future simple - «o μέλλοντας 2».
  • The subjunctive (mood) - «υποταχτική 2».
  • The imperative (mood) - «πτοσταχτική 2».

When the activity meets the following criteria:

  • The activity is an actual completed event. It expressed the fact that a story or conversations has been ended. In this case the action is more important than the consequences of it.

* The only tense that belongs to two aspects is the present tense and that's why the second and third stems are never used for activities in the present tense.

If the perfective aspect is not clear you might look if the imperfective or the perfect aspect are applicable and meet the criteria. If not, it is clear which aspect can be used. It is therefore called the most normal aspect.

The next grammatical tenses of a verb are formed with the perfect aspect
(stem 2 + 3):

  • The present perfect «ο παρακείμενος».
  • The past perfect «o υπερσυντέλικος».
  • The future perfect «o συντελεσμένος μέλλοντας».
  • The subjunctive (mood) - «υποταχτική 2». *

When the activity meets the following criteria:

  • The effects of the action are noticeable in the present.
  • The effects of the action are noticeable in the past.
  • The effects of the action are noticeable in the future.

* «να» of «ας» gevolgd door een verleden perfectum (είχα en een infinitief)

Examples of an uninterrupted aspect:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Η Ελένη γράφει στη μητέρα της συχνά. Helen often writes her mother.
2Πριν της έγραφε * κάθε εβδομάδα. Previously she wrote her every week.
3Δεν πρέπει να την ενοχλήσεις τώρα γιατί γράφει. You should not bother her now because she's writing.
4Συγχρόνως που τηλεφώνησες έγραφα ένα γράμμα. At the same time you called, I wrote a letter.
5Χτες ο Πέτρος διάβαζε ένα βιβλίο. Yesterday Peter read a book.
  • In this sentence the present tense with the 1st stem of «γράφω» («γράφ-») is used. The imperfective aspect is used here because the word «συχνά» indicates repetition.
  • The sentence is in the imperfect by dint of the reference «πριν», at the same time the routine «κάθε εβδομάδα» indicates that the 1st stem has to be used.
  • Here the word «τώρα», in combination with a second verb in the sentence, namely «ενοχλώ», clarifies that the verb «γράφω» represents a continuous activity.
  • One part of sentence 4 viz «συγχρόνως που τηλεφώνησες» represents a complete activity. Hence the verb «τηλεφωνώ» is conjugated in the aorist by using the perfective aspect. The second part of the sentence «έγραφα ένα γράμμα» functions as a background in which the first part is completed. It should be mentioned that adverbs which express a clear point of time, such as «συγχρόνως» are interpreted as an uninterrupted progress with which the imperfective aspect is used.
  • In this sentence it is understood that Peter read a book. Speaking about an activity or situation, of which beginning and end is not known, it is perceived as a continuous operation. Hence the verb «διαβάζω» has been conjugated in the 3rd person singular of the imperfect. The listener then understands that the speaker does not know whether or not Peter has read the whole book.

* When the verb-stem is a one syllable form, beginning with a consonant and the verb has a one syllable ending such as «μένω», the «ε-» with a stress is prefixed the stem as an extra syllable in the imperfect and aorist. This phenomenon is called the augment, which only occurs in past tenses and which means enlargement or expansion.

The augment has been set up because of the antepenultimate rule (with the stress on the third 3rd syllable from the end). Normally the stress tends to fall on the third syllable from the end in the past tenses of active verbs with more than two syllables, whereas the same syllable retains the stress in the non-past tenses throughout the declension.

When augmentation occurs in Modern Greek it can be divided in three categories viz:

In addition to the formation of the above-mentioned present tense and the past tense, the imperfect aspect is used to form the future continuous too.

Both future tenses are formed periprastically, in other words they consist of two words, the particle «θα» and the verb. The future continuous, also referred to as sustained future tense, is formed with the 1st stem.

The same rules apply to future tenses regarding the aspect, as well as for the present and past tenses. Also in the future tenses we have to deal with a continuous uninterrupted event, a brief finished action and a completed situation in the past, with a result in the present.

Examples of the future:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Θα μ’αγαπάς για πάντα; Will you always love me?
2 Ναι, και δεν θα αγαπήσω ποτέ άλλη
Yes, and I will never love another woman.
3Θα διαβάζω όλη μέρα την Κυριακή I will read the entire Sunday.
4Από αύριο αυτός θα γυμνάζεται κάθε μέρα δύο ώρες. Starting tomorrow, he will train for two hours every day.
5Την επόμενη εβδομάδα τέτοια ώρα θα στέλνουμε αυτά τα γράμματα. Next week this time, we will send the letters.
  • In both the sentences 1 and 2 there is a question of an uninterrupted and continuous situation, but despite of this aspect the future in sentence 2 has been formed with the 2nd stem, because the man conceived the plan that he always will love the lady, who asked the question (see below for the perfective aspect).
  • Sentence 3 denotes a continuous event by the phrase «όλη μέρα».
  • Sentence 4 is a habit appointed by the phrase «κάθε μέρα».
  • Sentence 5 expresses a continuous activity in the future.

The simple future tense expresses an action or activity that takes place in the future and ends in the future at a certain moment. This tense is formed with the 2nd stem and is also used to express something polite, or to indicate that someone is about to do or to plan something.

A few examples of this:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Θα σου τηλεφωνήσω αύριο στο απόγευμα I'll call you tomorrow afternoon.
2Θα μου δώσεις το παλτό μου, Γιάννη; Can you give me my coat, John? (polite request)
3 Θα φύγω αύριο στις έξι. I will leave (planning) tomorrow at six.
Examples of the momentane (perfective) aspect:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Χτες ο Πέτρος διάβασε ένα βιβλίο. Yesterday Peter read a book.
2Χτύπησα την πόρτα τρεις φορές. I knocked three times on the door.
3Τούτη τη φορά ξέφυγε από την καταπακτή. This time he escaped through the trap-door.
4Χτες το απόγευμα ο Πέτρος έπαιξε μπάσκετ. Yesterday afternoon Peter played basketball.
5Έτρεξε το μαραθώνιο χτες. He ran the marathon yesterday.
  • In this sentence the ending of the verb «διαβάζω» makes clear that Peter read an entire book yesterday, because it is conjugated in the aorist with the 3rd person singular. The event is viewed by the speaker as a complete finished operation.
  • Although this is a question of a repeated action in the past, it was completed and hence the aorist in the 1st person singular is used.
  • Partly by the phrase «τούτη τη φορά», this is a true completed activity in the past. Accordingly the verb «ξεφεύγω» is conjugated in the 3rd person singular of the aorist.
  • With the phrase «χτες το απόγευμα» it's clear that the operation has been finished, therefore the verb «παίζω» is conjugated in the 3rd person singular of the aorist.
  • Again a true completed activity in the past because of the determiner «χτες», consequently the 3rd person singular of the aorist is used.

The perfect tense is a verb-form, representing a time and an aspect, because the completed activity has been put in a specific period of time.

More precisely, the perfect describes an event or activity in the past with consequences in the present, where the operation itself is the least important.

Perfect tenses are formed by using an unchangeable verb-form preceded by a conjugated form of the auxiliary verb «έχω». The unchangeable verb-form has been derived from the 2nd stem (perfect aspect) and is applicable for the perfect, the pluperfect and the future perfect.

Examples with the perfect aspect (The perfect - «ο παρακείμενος»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Πέρυσι έχεις γράψει το ιστορία. Last year you wrote the story.
2Είχες γραφεί το ιστορία πέρυσι. You had written the story last year.
3Ο Γιάννης δεν έχει δουλέψει από χρόνια. John has not worked for years.
4Ο Πέτρος έχει δουλέψει πολύ σκληρά σήμερα. Peter has worked really hard today.

The story from the sentences 1 and 2 has been written last year, but the most important thing is that it is still available. Thus a continuous situation. In sentence 2 the aorist infinitive of the the passive verb «γράφομαι» is used with the auxiliary verb «έχω» in the imperfect.

John from sentence 3 has not worked for years and it is clear that this situation is still going on. Accordingly the perpect is used for a situation starting in the past with a result in the present.

In sentence 4 it is obvious that a sequel of Peter's hard working might be that he is tired or goes to bed early. Consequently on that basis it is viewed as a situation starting in the past with a result in the present.

The perfect future tense is also formed with the 2nd stem (perfect aspect) and expresses an action or situation that ends in the future, which is not explicitly mentioned or cited. Moreover the result of it will be connected with that time in the future. Furthermore the future perfect may be used in a modal meaning, with which the result of the completed situation of the verb is relating to the present, as in the undermentioned sentences 5 and 6.

A few examples:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Μέχρι το καλοκαίρι η Ελένη θα έχει μάθει τέλεια Ισπανικά Until the summer Helen will learn perfect Spanish.
2Η κυβέρνηση ελπίζει ότι μέχρι το τέλος του χρόνου θα έχει λυθεί το πρόβλημα. The government hopes to have resolved the problem by the end of the year.
3Μέχρι τη μέρα των εξετάσεων θα έχω διαβάσει πολύ. Until the day of the examinations I will have read a lot.
4Ως την ώρα του φαγητού θα έχουμε γυρίσει από τη θάλασσα. At dinner time, we will return from the sea.
5Πιστεύω ότι θα κουραστεί πολύ. I believe she has become very tired.
6Θα έχει θυμώσει μαζί σου. He must have been mad at you.

For positive imperative utterances four distinct apects can be used i.e. the imperpective aspect of the 2nd person singular and plural and the perfective aspect of the 2nd person singular and plural.

The imperfective aspect is used for a continuous action such as speak clearly, but also for immediate action as shut up e.g.:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Μίλα λίγο πιο καθαρά, γιατί δε σ'ακούω. Speak clearly, because I do not hear you.
2Σώπαινε, επειδή αυτή δεν το θέλει να ακούσει. Shut up, because she does not want to hear it.
3Τρώγε το φαγητό σου γιατί θα κρυώσει. Eat your food, because it will be cold.
4Κράτα αυτή τη φωτογραφία για να με θυμάσαι. Keep that picture so you remember me.

By the tendency of the second parts of the sentences the activities in sentence 1 and 2 are considered as uninterrupted and therefore the imperfective imperative (uninterrupted, continuous with the ist stem) in the 2nd person singular of the verbs «μιλάω» - to speak and «σωπαινω» - to silence is used.


The uninterrupted, continuous aspect in the imperative is only used with active verbs.

In the sentences 3 and 4 immediate actions are expressed, where the commands are more direct and less polite. Hence the imperfective imperative in the 2nd person singular of the verbs «τρώω» - to eat and «κρατάω» - to keep, preserve, is used.

The imperative with the perfective aspect (momentane - with the 2nd stem) is used for an action which is considered as one that will be completed, e.g.:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Άνοιξε το παράθυρο! Open the window!
2Γράψε πέντε φορές τη λέξη «οικογένεια»! Write five times the word family!
3Ρίξτε σε ένα μπολ το λάδι και το λεμόνι και ανακατέψτε τα! Pour the oil and lemonjuice in a bowl and mix them!
4Προσέξτε, κατά τη διάρκεια της εκδρομής σας! Be careful during your jaunt!

In the sentences 1 and 2 the imperative with the perfective aspect (aorist or momentane - with the 2nd stem) is used, i.e. a past action, in a general way or as a completed event. Consequently the imperative with the aorist aspect of the verbs «ανοίγω» - to open and «γράφω» - to write is used in the 2nd person singular.

Sentence 3 expresses an instruction from a recipe. Hence the same aspect of the verbs «ρίχνω» - to hurl, throw and «ανακατεύω» - to mix is used, in the 2nd person plural.

The same goes for sentence 4, where for the verb «προσέχω» - to pay attentionthe imperative with the perfective aspect (aorist or momentane - with the 2nd stem) in the 2nd person plural is used.

The only way to express orders for repeated or uninterrupted, continuous actions with passive verbs is by using the subjunctive, e.g. «Να ντύνεσαι πιο ζεστά, όταν είναι χειμώνα!» - You should wear warmer clothes when it is winter!

The only way to give orders with passive verbs is by using the perfective aspect, thus the simple form, the passive imperative with the perfective aspect (aorist or momentane - with the 2nd stem).

To express the imperative of passive verbs, the perfective aspect (aorist or momentane - with the 2nd stem):

ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Ντύσου καλά σήμερα, κάνει κρύο! You should wear warmer clothes today, it's cold!
2Σκέψου όμορφα πράγματα! Think of nice things!
3Δέξου το, αυτό θα είναι πολύ πιο εύκολο! Accept it, that will be much easier!
4Περιποιήσου λίγο, μη βγαίνεις έτσι έξω! Take care of yourself, don't go outside like that!
5θυμηθείτε να αγοράσετε λίγο κρασί για το βράδυ! Just remember to buy some wine for tonight
6Κάθεστε! Will you sit down!
7Ντρέπεστε να μη μ'εμπιστεύεστε! Shame on you, not to trust me!
8Ελάτε εδώ αμέσως! Will you come here immediately!

For the sentences 1 up to and included 4 the imperative is used with the perfective aspect (aorist or momentane - with the 2nd stem) in the 2nd person singular. The same applies for the sentences 5 up to and included 8 with the 2nd person plural.

Examples of the perfect in comparison to the aorist:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Βελτιώθηκε πολύ σήμερα ο καιρός. The weather improved a lot today
2Έχει βελτιωθεί πολύ σήμερα ο καιρός. The weather has improved a lot today.
3Διάβασα ογδόντα σελίδες μέχρι τώρα. I read eighty pages up to now.
4Έχω διαβάσει ογδόντα σελίδες μέχρι τώρα. I have read eighty pages up to now.
5Έφαγα κιόλας δυο μήλα. I already ate two apples.
6Έχω φάει κιόλας δυο μήλα. I have eaten two apples already.

The perfect can be replaced by the aorist in many situations as in sentences 1 and 2, particularly in cases where the aorist might be interpreted as a complete activity with an effect in the present and even in cases where the activity is repeated with the usage of the adverbs «μέχρι τώρα» (sent. 3) and «κιόλας» (sent. 5).

There are however circumstances where it is not appropriate to use these tenses intertwined and where we have to use one of the two tenses with their aforementioned aspect guidelines.

ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Ο Πέτρος κοιμήθηκε νωρίς χθες το βράδυ. Peter went to bed early last night.
2Ο Πέτρος έχει πέσει για ύπνο από τις 9.30. Peter has been fallen asleep at half past ten.
  • Here the aorist is used because a time reference is indicated with «χθες το βράδυ». This is assumed as a completed action in the past, and then the perfect is not allowed.
  • When a point of time is combined with the preposition «από» which represents a period, started from a certain time in the past and continues till the moment of speaking, the perfect is used.

Since the terms perfective aspect, imperfective aspect and perfect aspect are rather confusing and grammatically variously described, some more explanation: a.f.

  • A perfect tense is a grammatical form that describes an event in the past with a relevance in the present or a present condition as a result of a past situation e.g. the phrase I've been in Holland implies that this is my experience as of now and the phrase I lost my wallet means that this loss is difficult for me at the moment.
  • In a language like Modern Greek, where concepts such as uninterrupted, continuous, repetitive, completed events and habits play a major role in determining the aspectual distinction, it's essential to know that this distinction is not inherent in the event itself, but is decided by how the speaker views it or wishes to present it. The very same event for example may be described as perfective in one clause, and then imperfective in the next, e.g. At the same time you called, I wrote a letter
  • The English language has a perfect, which is used to show that something from the past has continued up to the present or is important in the present. i.e. He has lived in London all his life or I’ve lost my wallet, I can’t buy anything. Other modals are used in English regarding a perfective aspect in the future, past and the present e.g. They should have arrived by now, it’s getting late. Events, showing a continuous aspect, are formed with the verb be and the –ing form of the verb, e.g. He had been working hard every day. The fact is English has neither a simple perfective nor imperfective aspect.
  • In Modern Greek the perfect aspect can not just be exchanged with the perfective aspect, which depends on the context and the tense and is expressed either by a perfect tense (perfect) or a past tense (imperfective or aorist).
  • In Greek the perfective aspect is considered as a completed whole, where the emphasis lies on the transitory character of the event or situation and where a possible effect on the present is left aside. For this aspect the aorist is used, a complete finished operation and as a result this aspect is often called, aorist aspect or momentane aspect.
  • The imperfectieve aspect looks at the action or event from inside and indicates that the activity pointed out by the verb exists or is ongoing at the time of referral. It distinguishes itself from the perfective aspect due to the fact that no possible ending time is defined. The action itself, a past event, is important, with the emphasis on the continuous, ongoing nature of it. Also habits, types of activities, which are about to happen and repetitions, are expressed by this aspect.
  • In Modern Greek a perfect construction like I've slept indicates a significance with implications, such as I've slept and I didn't hear you knocking. Depending on the context and the tense of the Greek verb, it would be incorrect in this case to connect it to a past time like I slept yesterday, because that is a completed situation in the past whereas it is unlikely that I still sleep today. The speaker will assume that I'm awake now. So a perfective (momentane) construction without permanent consequences in the present, as in the phrase I slept yesterday, is a perfective aspect in languages ​in which it occurs.
Samengevat met enkele voorbeelden:
Έχω διαβάσει πολλά όλα αυτά τα χρόνια. I read a lot, all these years. Perfect aspect, because of an experience from the past.
Έχει εργαστεί σκληρά σήμερα και είναι κουρασμένος He worked hard today and is tired. Perfect aspect, situation from the past, with effect in the present.
Έγραψε πέντε γράμματα χθες. He write five letters yesterday. Perfective aspect, brief completed activity in the past.
Βαρέθηκα και θέλω να φύγω. I was bored and wanted to leave. Perfective aspect, started in the past, but lasted until it was uttered.
Έκλαιγα γιατί με κάνει πάντα λυπημένη. I cried because he always makes me sad. Imperfective aspect, continuous situation.
Μιλούσα στο Γιάννη, όταν το κουδούνι χτύπησε. I was speaking to John when the bell rang. Imperfective aspect, 2nd sentence part is completed, 1st part not