The past, present and future tenses quite well represent what they are supposed to mean or be. But what's "perfect" about the perfect tense?

I am not asking for the usage of the perfect tense. I just need to know why they are called so. Thank you.

  • My question is not a duplicate of that past question you mentioned. Shashi Kumar Raja has aptly provided the answer I am seeking. Thank you, though, for seeing the possibility of duplication.
    – Portcall
    May 22, 2016 at 7:47
  • The accepted answer in the older question mentions perfectus, and it explains how the perfect tense is formed. Moreover, it is an original answer. Please explain why the answer in the older question does not answer this question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 22, 2016 at 10:33
  • @Mari-LouA - Yes, you're right, but I exercised discretion in choosing the answer that, for me, best satisfied my question. Please note that RegDwigнt♦ simply provided the definition (As to why it's perfect, the term comes from Latin perfectus, "achieved, finished, completed".) whereas Shashi Kumar Raja, aside from giving the same meaning, exerted extra effort to elucidate his/her answer. This I highly appreciated. Because of the elucidation, I didn't have to go to Wikipedia to find the explanation or details. Hence, I preferred Shashi's answer.
    – Portcall
    May 22, 2016 at 15:20
  • It's worth pointing out that SKR's answer is copied verbatim from Wikipedia... whereas RegDwight's answer is original.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 22, 2016 at 15:22
  • @Mari-LouA- If some one seeks some answer and I am able to find that answer somewhere in the best possible explanation then why not simply write that answer and provide the link as well if the seeker wants more detail.(which I did in the above case.)Also, for your kind info. I first went through the entire wiki page and then extracted only those info which will be meaningful in this context.I don't see any false note in that.If someone asks you about Newton's law and you give the answer then you don't say that you copied Newton's answer. May 22, 2016 at 16:07

2 Answers 2


The term Perfect is derived from Latin perfectus meaning "achieved, finished, completed".

The perfect tense or aspect is a verb form that indicates that an action or circumstance occurred earlier than the time under consideration, often focusing attention on the resulting state rather than on the occurrence itself.

In some analyses, perfect is identified as one of the grammatical aspects. In the perfect aspect, the event being referred to is viewed as already completed at the time of reference.

In modern grammars, particularly of English, perfect denotes an aspect independent of tense – the form corresponding to the traditional perfect ("I have done") is then called the present perfect, while that corresponding to the pluperfect ("I had done") is called the past perfect. (There are also additional forms such as future perfect, conditional perfect, and so on). The formation of the perfect in English, using forms of an auxiliary verb (have) together with the past participle of the main verb, is paralleled in a number of other modern European languages.

Refer to this Wikipedia page for more information on the perfect tense.

  • This appears to be written in your own words, and then you add a Wikipedia link inviting the OP to read up on Perfect. Instead the entire answer is lifted from Wikipedia, some might interpret this as plagiarism. Please reformat your answer using > showing that it is an excerpt. See Steve Cooper's answer below.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 22, 2016 at 10:31

From wikipedia:

The word perfect in this sense means "completed" (from Latin perfectum, which is the perfect passive participle of the verb perficere "to complete").

So it is the tense when something has finished happening, not halfway through.

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