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English Verb Tenses Guide

English Verb Tenses Guide

 

How can I learn verb tenses in English?

 

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English Verb Tenses Guide

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English Verb Tenses Guide

How can I learn verb tenses in English?

 

 

English only has two verb tenses; present and past. that part is easy.

 

However, there are 4 aspects that can be combined with each of the 2 tenses.

 

  • -—- Present  —————- Past
  • ————— Simple
  • ———— continuous
  • ————— perfect
  • ——— perfect continuous

 

(**Modals are not included because they are not ‘real time’ verbs. )

 

Studying verbs entails 2 concepts; structure and function.

 

Studying the structure of English verbs is a walk in the park compared to studying their correct application and usage.

 

For structure you need to learn which auxiliary verb and which main verb form goes with each aspect in positive statements, negative statements and questions;

 

The best structure to practice at first is question tags as this structure employs all 3 sentence forms.

 

  • simple – do + Vs—-He works, doesn’t he?
  • continuous – be+ Ving—She is working, isn’t she?
  • perfect – have + Ved – They have eaten, haven’t they?
  • perfect continuous – have + been + Ving – You have been working haven’t you?

 

The next step in practising these structures is to use time adverb phrases. This will help you connect the correct idea of time to each form.

 

Ex. Simple past- He worked yesterday. She ate lunch at 12:30. They went to Italy last summer.

 

For the next step, you really have to put on your thinking cap. You need to look at function and to do that you need a solid understanding of the definition of each aspect.

 

The definition of each aspect is somewhat ‘philosophical’. The following definitions are mine. You should create your own as it will be more meaningful to you.

 

In a nutshell, simple is factual, continuous gives a sense of temporary attitude, perfect is focused on results and perfect continuous is a combination of its namesakes.

 

*** Modals are much more specific and need another tome to be explained.

 

Each of the 8 aspects has several functions. So while there are only 8 structures, there are many more functions. The present continuous, for example can be used to refer to a future situation. (English ‘future’ has no less than 8 structures. This is why it is a serious error to consider ‘will’ as the future tense in English). Present continuous can also refer to an action happening at the moment of speaking,(I am writing a post right now), a current activity, (He is working for Starbucks this summer), or to make reference to an activity you find annoying, (Jake is always calling during dinner!).

 

As you can see, there is a lot to learn. Read a lot and notice which structures are being used. Notice which situations these structures are referring to. Listen a lot and do the same thing. Read and listen over and over again.

 

Choose a structure to study for the week. Write it down every time you see or hear it being used. At the end of the day gather up your notes and analyse them as to which function was being implied. Practice writing them and soon you’ll gain the confidence to start using them in your speech.

 

I hope that helps.

 

You might like to look at an easy way to remember irregular verbs. You can find it on my website here: Insiders English. (Wait for the page to load and click on the image under ‘Irregular Verbs’): Innovative Grammar – Insider’s English

 

 

 

 

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English Verb Tenses Guide

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Reference: Veronica Curlette, ( Experienced English teacher,  University of Victoria (BC, Canada) ).  “How I can learn verb tense in English?” originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

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