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In linguistics, the perfect tense is the past tense used to describe completed (thus "perfect") actions in the past.

The perfect can be contrasted to the imperfect tense, which describes incomplete (thus "imperfect") actions in the past. The imperfect is sometimes called past continuous.

In most languages the perfect is constructed by the use of an auxiliary verb (either to be or to have) in the present and the past participle. The tense thus describes an action which is presently in the past, in contrast to the pluperfect (for an action which in the past was already in the past) and the future perfect (an action which will be in the past).

Other names are sometimes given to the perfect tense. In English the perfect tense is often misleadingly referred to as the present perfect, an allusion to the auxiliary verb component in the present tense. The term "composed past" is also used in languages where this past tense is composed of an auxiliary and a participle.

In some languages, the perfect tense is effectively the same as the preterite tense, or the aorist tense, but these two terms are not actually synonymous with the perfect tense.


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