Yesterday, I was discussing aspect in Catalan with my supervisor. It’s all very complicated – more so than you might think. More so than my brain get comprehend, anyway.
So it is with interest that I come across what appears to be a distinction in aspect in synthetic forms (i.e. ‘one word’, not ‘made up, invented’) in certain verbs in British English. The -t form (e.g. burnt) is more focused on a completed action, that only happened the once and it’s over and done with (The house burnt down, to give Crystal’s example) and the -ed form is for more continuous actions, perhaps it’s more describing a state: The house burned for hours (again using Crystal’s example). Anyway, the point is that the -t form appears to correspond to the Catalan preterite tense and the -ed form, only where there is an alternative -t form, corresponds to the Catalan imperfect tense. Yet another complication to add to the list provided by Wheeler, Yates and Dols (1999). It’s possibly reasonably safe to say that this would also to apply to other Romance languages.
Wheeler, M. W., Yates, A. & Dols, N. (1999). Catalan: a comprehensive grammar, Routledge Grammars, Routledge, London.