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Nouns

Nouns are naming words for people, animals, places, things, and qualities. They can be recognised by the articles – the, a, an – that we place in front of them.

Nouns can be divided into proper nouns and common nouns. The names of particular people, animals, places and things are called proper nouns. We begin a proper noun with a capital letter. Nouns that do not refer to particular persons,  animals, places and things are called common nouns. The first letter of a common noun is not capitalized unless it is the first word in a sentence.

There are other kinds of nouns. A word that stands for a group of things is called a collective noun. Nouns can be singular or plural. When you refer to one person, animal, place, or thing, you use a singular noun. When you talk about two or more people, animals, places, or things, you want to use plural nouns.

There are countable and uncountable nouns. Countable nouns are things that can be counted like book, car and house. Uncountable nouns cannot be counted such as milk, water, and flour.

Other nouns are names we use to refer to quality, idea, condition, etc. that are not concrete objects, and they are known as abstract noun.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

Future Perfect Continuous Tense
The future perfect continuous tense is formed with the future perfect tense of the verb to be (shall/will have been) + a present participle (verb + -ing), as follow:

Example: My uncle will have been working in Antarctica for exactly ten years next Sunday.

The future perfect continuous tense is used:

  • to indicate the length of time that an action continues in the future.

Example: At noon tomorrow, my aunt will have been driving a hearse for fifteen years.

  • to show an action in progress until an event happens in the future. Here, we usually make use of the time clause. The future perfect continuous tense may come either before or after the time clause.

a) By the time the bus arrives, we will have been waiting for more than thirty minutes.
b) We will have been waiting for more than thirty minutes by the time the bus arrives,
Time clause: by the time the bus arrives
Main clause: we will have been waiting for more than thirty minutes
A comma is placed at the end of a time clause when the time clause comes before the main clause as in (a).

Future Perfect Tense

Future Perfect Tense
The future perfect tense is formed by using the simple future tense of the verb to have (will have) + the past participle of the main verb. It is used for an action which will have finished by some future time or date as mentioned:

Statement: She will have sewn the patch on her jeans by nine o’clock
Question: Will the people have put out the fire by the time the firemen arrive?

The future perfect tense is used:

  • to show that an activity will be completed by a specified time in the future.

Example: I will have saved about one million dollars by the year 2090.

  • to show that an action will be completed before another takes place in the future.

Example: The fire will have burnt the building to the ground by the time the firemen arrive.

  • to show a situation will be over in the future.

Example: The special offer – buy two, get one free – will have finished by midday tomorrow.

  • with conditional ‘if’.

Example: If you don’t hurry up, we will have eaten all the food when you get to the table.

  • with time clause. The future perfect tense may come either before or after the time clause.

a) On April 1st, she will have been here for six months.
b) She will have been here for six months on April 1st.
c) We will have waited for more than thirty minutes by the time the bus arrives,
Time clauses: On April 1st/by the time the bus arrives
Main clauses: She will have been here for six months/We will have waited for more than thirty minutes
A comma is placed at the end of a time clause when the time clause comes before the main clause as in (a).

  • with time expressions such as by seven o’clock, by this evening, by next Thursday, by then, until noon tomorrow, before closing date.

Example: He will have prepared the documents by next Friday.

The future perfect tense and the future perfect continuous tense

a) When Joan competes in the marathon next week, she will have trained for nine months.
b) When Joan competes in the marathon next week, she will have been training for nine months.
Both (a) and (b) have the same meaning.

Future Continuous Tense

Future Continuous Tense
The t;strong>future continuous tense is made up of the simple future tense of the verb to be (shall/will be) + a present participle (verb + -ing), as follow:

Subject simple future of ‘to be’ present participle (base + ing)
We shall/will be jogging

 

We use the future continuous tense:

  • for an action that lasts a period of time in the future.

Example: His father will be working the whole day tomorrow.

  • for an action that has been planned.

Example: They will be going on vacation this summer.

  • to express an action that will be in progress at a certain or specified time in the future.

Example: We will/shall be sleeping by the time you return.
Example: At this time next week, I shall/will be playing poker.
Example: Will they be coming at 6 p.m. tomorrow?

  • for an action which will happen as a matter of routine or as scheduled (without intention)

Example: You will be working with Miss Cool again when you turn up for work tomorrow.
Example: The first train will be departing at 5.30 a.m.

  • to seek a favour of someone by asking about their plans

Example: Will you be passing the post office on your way home?

  • to ask for information

Example: Will you be joining the drinking session tonight?

  • To make a prediction about something in the future.

Example: She will be feeling very sad after learning the truth.
(When in doubt, we can use may instead of shall/will. Example: She may be feeling very sad after learning the truth.)

The continuous tenses:
In the evening, she was at home. She was doing her homework. (past continuous)
In the evening, she is at home. She is doing her homework. (present continuous)
In the evening, she will be at home. She will be doing her homework. (future continuous)

The future continuous tense and the simple future tense:

Will you be coming to the party tonight? (future continuous tense)
Will you come to the party tonight? (simple future tense)

The choir will be singing when the bride and bridegroom enter the church. (future continuous tense - The choir will sing before the bride and bridegroom enter the church.)
The choir will sing when the bride and bridegroom enter the church. (simple future tense – The bride and bridegroom will enter the church and then the choir will sing.)

  • Sometimes there is little or no difference between the future continuous tense and the simple future tense:

He will be having lunch with us.
He will have lunch with us.

More than one way is possible to express a future action, and often they have similar meaning.

Some guests will be arriving late.
Some guests will arrive late.
Some guests are arriving late.

Simple Future Tense

Simple Future Tense
We use the simple future tense for actions that will happen in the future. How we use it depends on how we view the events are going to happen. The followings show the different tenses used to express the completion of an activity in the future:

The police will conclude their investigation of the computer fraud next week. (simple future)
The police conclude their investigation of the computer fraud next week. (simple present)
The police are concluding their investigation of the computer fraud next week.(present continuous)
The police will be concluding their investigation of the computer fraud next week. (future continuous)

There are ways we can use to express the future in English:

1. Will
2. Be going to
3. Be to
4. Be about to
5. Simple Present
6. Present continuous

1. Will
We use will to:

  • say something that we are certain will occur in the future.

Example: A meeting will be held next Monday at 2 p.m.

  • say something that we are not so certain will happen.

Example: I think he will phone me later.

  • make a prediction.

Example: The rain will stop soon.

  • state a fact.

Example: Oil will float on water.

  • express willingness to do something in the future.

Example: I will help you clear the rat-infested storeroom in a moment.

  • make a sudden decision at the moment of speaking.

Example: There’s a noise outside. I will just go and check.

  • give a command.

Example: You will report to me at eight o’clock tomorrow.

  • give an invitation, make an order or a threat.

Example: They will invite Professor Dunce to speak at the scientific conference.
Example: I will have a double brandy.
Example: Give me your wallet or I will slit your throat with this.

  • ask questions or make a suggestion or promise.

Example: Will you phone your mother-in-law to apologize, please?
Example: Shall we sneak a couple of bottles of brandy through Customs?
Example: I will try not to be late again.

2.lt;strong> Be going to
Be going to is used to refer to future actions as follow:

  • Intention or decision already made to do or not to do something.

Example: We are going to move to a new neighbourhood next month.

  • Plans or arrangements for the near future that are made prior to the time of speaking

Example: We are going to visit the zoo on Sunday.

  • Prediction of an outcome based on current situation.

Example: Look at the overcast sky. It is going to rain hard.

Be going to and will

  • When be going to and will are used to make predictions about the future, they mean the same.

Example: He thinks his son’s team will win the match.
Example: He thinks his son’s team is going to win the match.

  • Be going to and will are used to indicate future situations or actions, and they often convey the same meaning.
Example:  My son is going to be ten next month.
  My son will be ten next month.
Example: We are going to leave as soon as he arrives.
  We will leave as soon as he arrives.
Example: We are going to the shop when it stops raining.
  We will go to the shop when it stops raining.

 

  • When the speaker is absolutely sure about something, he can use will or be going to.
Example: I will be at the meeting tomorrow.
  I am going to be at the meeting tomorrow.
  (When absolute sureness is not present, probably, might, could, or similar words may be used.
Example:
  I will probably be at the meeting tomorrow.
  I am probably going to be at the meeting tomorrow.)
  • Sometimes be going to and will express different meanings.

We use be going to to indicate a plan made before the time of speaking while will expresses a decision made at the time of speaking.

Example: We are going to visit Jill in the hospital tomorrow.
  (When we came to know that Jill was admitted to the hospital, we arranged to visit her the next day (tomorrow) – a prior plan.)
Example: It is getting late. We will leave now.
  (The speaker decides to leave the moment he realizes it is getting late – a sudden decision.)

 

  • When a decision or plan is made for the distant future, will is usually used.

Example: She will get married in two years.

Going to is usually used when a plan is made for the near future.
Example: We are going to visit them again early next month.

 

  • We use be going to when there is an intention to do something and will for additional information.
Example: It’s their twentieth wedding anniversary. They are going to have a celebratory party.
  (NOT: They will have a celebratory party.)
  They will invite about a dozen close friends. The friends will include two politicians.

 

3. Be to
Be to (is/are + infinitive) refers to an action that is to take place in the future. It is used for instructions, obligation and something that is arranged. However, other forms of usage are possible.

Example:  You are not to answer any question from any one of the reporters. (instruction)
Example: You are to hand this packet over to him before noon. (obligation)
Example: The Prime Minister is to meet his successor tomorrow. (arrangement)
Example: The museum is to be closed while it is being renovated. (information)
Example: The General Manager is to present the report to the board on Monday. (duty)

 

4. Be about to (+ infinitive)
We use be about to for an action or event that will happen very soon.

Example:  Everyone sits down when the film is about to start.
Example: I have never drunk alcohol in my life and I am not about to start now.
Example: We walked quickly home when it was about to rain.
Example: The audience fell silent when the President was about to appear.
Example: When a plane is moved to the end of a runway, it usually means it is about to take off.

When be about to is used with just, it emphasizes that something is about to happen when it is interrupted by something else.
Example: I was just about to eat my dinner when the phone rang.

5. Simple present tense
We use simple present tense for the future when we refer to something that has been scheduled or arranged to happen at a particular time such as a timetable.

Example: The first flight to Rome leaves at 6 a.m.
Example: The train for Birmingham departs from platform 3.
Example: The special sales offer closes August 31.
Example: The new airport opens on Christmas Eve.
Example: The public exhibition of a collection of his paintings ends in a week.

The simple present tense and the present continuous tense
We can use the simple present and the present continuous tenses for the future.

They have a drinking session next Sunday.
(= the drinking session occurs every Sunday.)
They are having a drinking session next Sunday.
(= perhaps, not every Sunday.)

 

6. Present continuous tense
The present continuous tense is used for future arrangements.

Example: I am having dinner with him at seven o’clock.
Example: She is flying to London tomorrow morning.
Example: John is leaving the company next week after 25 years’ service.
Example: We are visiting the Niagara Falls in three weeks.
Example: My brother is writing another book next month.

Present continuous and ‘be going to
Present continuous and be going to can have same meaning.

a) I am going to watch my favourite TV programme this evening.
b) I am watching my favourite TV programme this evening.
c) He is going to attend a seminar tomorrow.
d) He is attending a seminar tomorrow.

Sentences (a) and (b); (c) and (d) have same meaning. The present continuous tense and be going to describe actions that are planned or arranged for the future prior to the time of speaking. We do not use will here.
It is not incorrect to construct a sentence with ‘be going to’ with the verb ‘go’. For example: They are going to go fishing this weekend. However the present continuous tense is more commonly used: They are going fishing this weekend.

Will / Shall
Will and shall are auxiliary verbs used mainly in the future tense.

Example: I shall arrive before noon.
  They will arrive before noon.
  Shall has always been used in the first-person singular (I) and plural (we) but will is becoming more common.
Example:  I shall be away tomorrow.
  We shall be away tomorrow.

 

  • We use will to ask a favour of somebody.

Example: Will you look after my things for a while, please?

  • We use won’t (will not) to show unwillingness or refusal to do something.

Example: I have asked the noisy children to keep quiet, but they won’t listen.

  • We use shall when we:

Ask a first-person question.
Example: Shall I open the window?
make a suggestion.
Example: Shall we go together in one car?
make an offer.
Example: Shall I give you a lift to the airport?
ask for instructions.
Example: Shall I make all these payments by the end of the month?

Will and shall are also used to make predictions in the simple future tense.

Example: I think the weather will get colder around the middle of this month.
Example: I shall be judged only by God.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Past Perfect Continuous Tense
The past perfect continuous tense is formed with the past perfect tense of the verb to be (= had been) + the present participle (–ing).

Example: I had been praying.

The past perfect continuous is used:

  • for an action that occurred over a period of time in the past.

Example: He had been playing saxophone in a jazz band.

  • for an action which started and finished in the past before another past action. Here, since or for is usually used.

Example: Jack got a job at last. He had been looking for a job since last year.
Example: He and his brother had been playing badminton together for ten years before one of them got married.

  • in reported speech, the present perfect continuous tense becomes past perfect continuous tense.

Example: John said, “We have been traveling by train across Europe.”
Example: John said they had been traveling by train across Europe.

Past perfect continuous tense not used for states or feelings
The past perfect continuous is not normally used for states.
NOT: He had been seeming pretty angry at me.
The past simple is used instead:
Example: He seemed pretty angry at me.

The past perfect continuous tense and the present perfect continuous tense
He was my tennis partner. We had been playing together for seven years.
He is my tennis partner. We have been playing together for seven years.
It was midnight and you had been watching television for four hours.
It is midnight and you have been watching television for four hours.
Why was he so angry? What had they been doing to him?
Why is he so angry? What have they been doing to him?
She had been shopping for eight hours for a new dress, but couldn’t find one she liked.
She has been shopping for eight hours for a new dress, but can’t find one she likes.

The past perfect continuous tense and the past perfect tense
a) I had been looking everywhere for you.
b) I had looked everywhere for you.
c) Sandy was very confident because she had been rehearsing hard for the play.
d) Sandy was very confident because she had rehearsed hard for the play.
The past continuous and past perfect tenses as used above convey the same meaning as in (a) and (b), (c) and (d).

The past perfect continuous tense and the past continuous tense
When I phoned, they all had been saying their prayers. (I phoned after the prayers.)
When I phoned, they all were saying their prayers. (I phoned during the prayers.)
We had been having our dinner when he arrived. (He arrived after dinner.)
We were having our dinner when he arrived. (He arrived during dinner.)

Past Perfect Tense

Past Perfect Tense
The past perfect tense is formed with the past tense of the verb to have (had) and the past participle of the verb (e.g. eaten, stolen, taken).

The past perfect tense describes an event that happened in the past before another event  was completed in the past. It tells us which event happened first regardless of which event is mentioned first or second in a sentence or conversation.

The Past Perfect Tense is used:
1. to show an action happened in the past before another event took place.

  • Words usually used with the Past Perfect tense are when and after.

Example: They had already finished their dinner when I arrived to join them.
Example: When he had done his homework, he went for a smoke in the park.
Example: After I had eaten five apples, I felt ill.
Example: I arrived at the cinema after the film had started.

In each of the above examples there are two past actions. The past perfect tense is combined with a past simple tense to show which of the two actions happened earlier.
The event in the past perfect tense occurred before the event in the simple past tense.

  • Words such as already, just and as soon as are also used with the Past Perfect tense.

Example: It had already stopped raining when I bought an umbrella.
Example: The whole house had just burnt down when the firemen got there.
Example: As soon as she had got married, she regretted it.
2. for an action which happened before a definite time in the past.
Example: They had finished their prayers by ten o’clock.
3. for an action which took place and completed in the past.
Example: He had hurt his back in an accident at work and he had to stay at home for three months.
(The action happened and he suffered the consequences all in the past)
4. for states.
Example: They had become good friends for many years after meeting on holiday.

When two actions were completed in the past, use a past perfect tense to clarify which event happened earlier.
a) INCORRECT: The museum occupied the building where the art gallery was.
b) CORRECT: The museum occupied the building where the art gallery had been.
c) INCORRECT: The list of movies you showed me, I saw before.
d) CORRECT: The list of movies you showed me, I had seen before.

In (a), the use of two simple past tenses (occupied; was) imply the museum and the art gallery occupied the same building at the same time, which was not the case. In (b), the use of the perfect tense (had been) sorts out the order of occupation of the building.
In (c), ‘I saw before’ clearly indicates it happened before the list was showed to me, and so should be in the past perfect tense as in (d).

Sometimes the past perfect tense and the past simple tense are used separately in different sentences.

Example: This morning we visited John in the hospital. He had just been admitted with stomach pains.

The past simple tense precedes the past perfect tense. Notice the action in the past perfect tense happened first.

Before and after
As mentioned above, the event expressed in the past perfect tense occurred earlier than the event in the past simple tense. However, when before or after is used in a sentence, the past perfect tense becomes unnecessary as the two words – before or after – already clarify which action takes place first. We can use the simple past tense instead. Look at these examples.

a) After she had read the letter, she tore it into pieces.
b) After she read the letter, she tore it into pieces.
c) We had left the stadium before the match ended.
d) We left the stadium before the match ended.
Changing the past perfect tense to past simple tense does not affect the meaning of the sentences as (a) and (b) have the same meaning, and (c) and (d) have the same meaning.

The past perfect tense and the present perfect tense
The salad bowl was empty. I had eaten the salad.
The salad bowl is empty. I have eaten the salad.
We were tired. We had just had a long walk.
We are tired. We have just had a long walk.
Grandma was limping. She had fallen down a drain.
Grandma is limping. She has fallen down a drain.

The past perfect tense and the simple past tense – how they are used

  • George is the captain of his football team. He started playing football when he was 9 years old. He became the best striker in the country when he was only seventeen.
  • George was the captain of his football team. He had started playing football when he was 9 years old. He had become the best striker in the country when he was only seventeen.

Indirect speech
The Past Perfect Tense is often used in Reported or Indirect Speech. It is used in place of the verb in the:

1. present perfect tense in the direct speech:
  Direct speech: He said, “I have lost my puppy.”
  Indirect speech: He said he had lost his puppy.
2. simple past tense in the direct speech:
  Direct speech: She said, “I made the biggest birthday cake in town.”
  Indirect speech: She said she had made the biggest birthday cake in town

 

Past perfect tense used after ‘if’ , ‘if only’ and ‘wish’
The past perfect tense is used to express an impossible condition as it refers to something which did or did not happen in the past.

Example: I would have bought two if I had brought enough money.
Example: If only he had shut up at the meeting.
Example: I wish you had bought one for me.
Example: They wish they had not seen that scary movie.

Past perfect tense used after certain expressions
Past perfect tense is often used after the following expressions in bold:
I knew (that) his brother had gone to work overseas.
I didn’t know (that) he had stopped smoking.
I thought (that) we had got on the wrong train.
I was sure (that) their birds had eaten my bananas.
I wasn’t sure (that) the snake had bitten him.

Passive form of past perfect tense
We put been in front of the past participle in the active form to make the passive form.
The passive form is used to show that something was done to the subject and not by the subject.

Example: He said he had been chased by a rhinoceros.
Example: I did not know that I had been invited to her wedding.

Past Continuous Tense

Past Continuous Tense
The past continuous tense is formed with the past tense of the verb to be (was/were) + present participle (verbs ending in …ing).

Example: I/he/she/it was eating spaghetti at 8 o’clock last night.
  You/we/they were eating spaghetti at 8 o’clock last night

The past continuous tense questions are formed with was/were + subject + … ing.
Example: What were you doing exactly twenty-four hours ago? (NOT: What did you do exactly twenty-four hours ago?)

The past continuous tense is used:

  • for an action that was taking place in the past when a shorter action (expressed in the simple past tense) happened.

Example: I was camping when I got stung by a bee.
Example: When I visited him in the hospital, he was snoring loudly.
Example: While he was reading the newspaper, he fell asleep.
Example: While I was talking to him, his eyes looked somewhere else.
Note: The past continuous tense and the simple past tense are used together

  • with while to describe two actions that were going on at the same time in the past.

Example: While my brother was laughing, my sister was crying.
Example: My father was drinking while my mother was eating.

  • for an action that was happening and not yet finished at a particular time or throughout a period of time in the past. We do not state when the action started or ended.

Example: Grandma was knitting a sock at 11 o’clock last night.
Example: They were hunting wild boars all evening.

  • to show that we were in the middle of an action.

Example: I was collecting old newspapers. (I was in the middle of doing the collecting.)
Example: The police sirens were wailing.

  • in Reported or Indirect Speech.
Example: “Are you catching a train to Timbuktu, Jack?” asked Jill.
  Jill asked Jack if he was catching a train to Timbuktu.

 

  • to describe the introductory scene for a story written in the past tense.

Example: The sun was shining after weeks of rain. The flowers were waving in the breeze.

Verbs not normally used in the continuous form
We use the continuous tenses, both past and present, with actions but not with verbs that refer to states and feelings. The simple past tense and simple present tense are used for such stative verbs. Some of the stative verbs include: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, believe, doubt, forget, know, understand, wish, like, love, desire, notice, remember, and want..

Example: I forget your name. (NOT I am forgetting your name.)
Example: I forgot your name. (NOT I was forgetting your name.)
Example: He believes what I say. (NOT He is believing what I say.)
Example: We understood the instructions. (NOT We were understanding the instructions.)
Example: Do you hear that noise? (NOT: Are you hearing that noise?)
Example: Did you hear that noise? (NOT: Were you hearing that noise?)
Example: I understand the instructions. (NOT: I am understanding the instructions.)

The passive form of the past continuous tense
The passive form consists of was or were + being + the past participle of the verb.
We use the passive form of the past continuous tense to express an action done to the subject. The action must be in the past and must be unfinished at the time concerned.

Example: My house was being renovated so I stayed in a nearby hotel.
Example: They arrived while dinner was being prepared.
We use when with the past continuous and simple past tenses:

  • to show that an action or event described in the past continuous tense started before the event expressed in the simple past tense.

Example: Two women were fighting in the street when the police arrived. (The fighting started before the police arrived.)

  • to show that an action or event described in the past continuous tense was going on when the event expressed in the simple past tense took place.

Example: They were having a barbecue when the rain started falling. (The rain fell when the barbecue was in progress.)

  • to show time order of events.

Example: When I woke up, my brother was brushing his teeth. (I woke up during his brushing his teeth.)
Example: When I woke up, my brother brushed his teeth. (I woke up, then my brother brushed his teeth.)
Example: He was bathing his pet puppy when I visited him. (He started the bathing before my visit and the bathing was in progress at the time of my visit.)
Example: He bathed his pet puppy when I visited him. (Two complete events: I visited him and then he bathed his pet.)

  • Difference in time order between past continuous tense and simple past tense.

1. When we reached there, it rained.
2. When we reached there, it was raining.
In (1), reaching there then raining started.
In (2), reaching there when it was raining.

Note the differences between these sentences:
Example: He was writing a letter yesterday. (Letter was not finished yesterday.)
Example: He wrote a letter yesterday. (Completed the letter.)
Example: While Jill was reading a book, her mother was sleeping. (Two actions in progress simultaneously.)
Example: While I read a book, my mother slept. (Two complete events happened simultaneously.)
Example: My father was having a shave at 7 o’clock. (The shave started before 7 o’clock and was still in progress at 7 o’clock.)
Example: My father had a shave at 7 o’clock. (The shave started at 7 o’clock until completion.)

 

Having the same meaning.

a) They were watching television all night. (Watching television went on throughout the night.)

b) They watched television all night. (Watching television from the beginning to the end of the night.)
(a) and (b) have the same meaning.
c) When she came in, I was dreaming. (She came in at the time of my dreaming.)
d) She came in while I was dreaming. (She came in during my dreaming.)
(c) and (d) have the same meaning.

 

The past continuous tense and the past perfect tense
a) I was eating when Bob came.
b) I had eaten when Bob came.
In (a): The past continuous tense expresses an activity that was in progress when another event took place.
In (b): The past perfect tense expresses an activity that was completed before another event took place.

Simple Past Tense

Simple Past Tense
We use the simple past tense for events that happened or started and completed in the past and that have no relation with the present.

We use the simple past tense:

  • to describe an action that occurred in the past or at a specified time or the time is easily understood or already implied.

Example: We finished our final exam an hour ago. (NOT: We have/had finished our final exam an hour ago.)
Example: My grandfather played for the Yellow Hornless Bull football team.
Example: I ate a big spicy piece of pizza for my breakfast.

  • for an action that began and ended in the past.

Example: The dangerous criminal was recaptured after three months on the run.

  • to refer to an action completed regardless of how recent or distant in the past.

Example: Alexander Bell invented the telephone in 1876.
Example: My brother joined the circus as a clown last week.

  • for an action done repeatedly, habitually or at regular times in the past.

Example: We saw the movie ‘Titanic’ several times at the cinema.
Example: Brian was always a heavy drinker in the old days.
Example: He phoned his mother every Sunday until her death.

  • for a state in the past.

Example: I felt very tired after a couple of games of tennis.

  • for a short event or action that comes or follows one after the other.

Example: We looked left and we looked right. Then we crossed the road.

  • to place emphasis on what we say, especially in response to some remark.

Example: “You didn’t seem to help much.” “I did help to clear the room of all the unwanted things.”

  • to talk about someone who has died.

Example: Arthur was a highly respected science-fiction writer.
Example: He left all his money to charity.

  • in providing details or information about events that happened subsequent to news reports which, when first reported, are usually expressed in present perfect tense.

Example: Negotiations with the insurgent forces have broken down. The leader of the insurgent forces blamed the government for the break down. A government spokesman said the insurgent forces made unreasonable demands.

Regular and irregular verbs

  • We form the simple past tense of most verbs by adding –ed to the verb. These verbs are called regular verbs. Most verbs are regular verbs.
  • The simple past tense of some verbs does not end in –ed. These verbs are the irregular verbs.
  • The simple past tense irregular verbs can only be used in the positive, not negative.

For example: He kept all his money in the bank. (NOT: He did not kept all his money in the bank.)

  • Examples of regular verbs:
  Simple Past
add added
hand    handed
join joined
show showed
talk talked

 

  • There are many irregular verbs. Examples of irregular verbs are:
  Simple Past
bite bit
catch  caught
go went
see saw
steal stole
teach taught

 

  • The simple past tense of some irregular verbs does not change at all.
  Past simple
beat     beat
cut cut
hurt hurt
put put
shut shut

 

Regular verbs and irregular verbs as expressed in the affirmative and negative.

Regular verbs:
Affirmative – He cycled to work.
Negative – He did not cycle to work. (NOT: He did not cycled to work.)

Irregular verbs
Affirmative – He stole her purse.
Negative – He did not steal her purse. (NOT: He did not stole her purse.)

Note that was and were are forms of the verb be. Was is the simple past tense of am and is and is used with the pronouns I, he, she and it, and with singular nouns. Were is the simple past tense of are and is used with the pronouns you, we and they, and with plural nouns.

Regular verbs in simple past tense forms:
Most verbs when expressed in the simple past tense are formed by adding –ed to the end of the verbs. These verbs are called regular verbs. Examples: kiss – kissed; touch – touched.

  • If a verb ends with –e, only –d is added to change its tense to past simple. Example: live – lived
  • If a verb ends in –ie, add –d. Examples: lie – lied; belie – belied
  • If a verb ends in:

a vowel + –y, just add –ed. Examples: employ – employed; buoy – buoyed
a consonant + –y, change the y to i and then add –ed. Examples: cry – cried; pry – pried.
one vowel + one consonant and is a one-syllable verb, double the consonant and add –ed. Example: step – stepped; chop – chopped; can – canned

one vowel + one consonant, double the consonant only if the second syllable of a two-syllable verb is stressed (e.g.,preFERpreferred) but not if the first syllable of a two-syllable verb is stressed (e.g., WONder – wondered)

two consonants, just add –ed. Examples: pull – pulled; scold – scolded
two vowels + one consonant, don’t double the consonant, add –ed. Examples: peep – peeped; leak – leaked; raid – raided

“Used to”
We use the expression used to to refer to a past habit or situation that no longer exists. We use the infinitive without to after ‘used to.’

Example: I used to chase butterflies, but now I don’t see any butterfly around.
  (NOT: I used to to chase butterflies, …..)
  She used to be scared of spiders, but now she keeps a pet spider.
  Did you used/use to live in a houseboat?
  Professor Crabby is never used to people arguing with him.

 

The passive form
We use the passive form of the simple past tense when the action is done to the subject. It is formed by using was/were + past participle.

  • Often the doer of the action is not mentioned or known.

Example: Last night the police station was broken into.

  • Sometimes we use the preposition ‘by’ to mention the person or thing that did the action.

Example: That old mighty tree was once struck by lightning.

  • When the same subject is used with two passive verbs, we leave out the pronoun and the verb in the second part of the sentence.

Example: The pickpocket was beaten up and then handed over to the police. (We leave out ‘he was’ between ‘then’ and ‘handed’.) 

The simple past tense and the past continuous tense

  • We use the simple past tense to show a complete action and the past continuous tense to show an action in progress.

Example: Last night I stepped on a snake and it bit my leg. (simple past – complete actions)
Example: At eleven o’clock last night, I was looking for my car key. (past continuous – action in progress)

  • We use the simple past and past continuous tenses together to indicate an action happened while another was in progress.

Example: I was running away from a dog when I knocked an old lady to the ground. (past continuous and simple past tenses – knocked an old lady in the middle of running away.)

The simple past tense and the past perfect tense

  • When the simple past and past perfect tenses are used together in a sentence, the past perfect tense is used for something that happened earlier.
Example: He filled the case with cartons of orange juice. (Only one action; a simple past tense is used.) After he had filled the case with cartons of orange juice, he loaded it into the van.
(Both past perfect and simple past tenses are used. The action that happened earlier is expressed in the past perfect tense – had filled.)

 

  • Note the usage:

a) When I arrived, the pet show started.
b) When I arrived, the pet show had started.
c) I arrived before he delivered the opening address.
d) I arrived before he had delivered the opening address.
e) Nobody asked any question until he explained the procedure.
f) Nobody asked any question until he had explained the procedure.
In (a), the meaning is the same as: I arrived just in time for the show.
In (b), the meaning is the same as: I missed the initial part of the show.
(c) and (d): there is no difference in meaning.
(e) and (f): there is no difference in meaning.

  • When one action followed another, the past perfect tense is not used. The simple past tense is used for both events.

Example: When Jack saw Jill, he waved to her. (NOT: When Jack had seen Jill, he waved to her.)

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Present Perfect Continuous Tense
The Present Perfect Continuous Tense is made up of the present perfect tense of the verb to be (have/has been), and the present participle of the main verb (verb + ing)

Statement: subject + have/has + been + (verb + -ing)
  He   has   been   running.
Question form: have/has + subject + been + (verb + -ing)
  Has   he   been   running?

 

The Present Perfect Continuous is:

  • used for an action that began in the past and has been continuing up to now (and may still be going on)

Example: Cecilia and I have been talking about getting married.

  • used for an action that began and just finished in the past.

Example: “Look how dirty your hands are. ” “Yes, I have been repairing the car.”

  • often used with since, for, ever since, etc.

Example: Grandpa has been playing with his grandchildren for hours.
Example: I have been looking for the missing piece of the jigsaw since ten o’clock.
Example: He has been working there ever since he went there for a holiday.

  • also used with all (all day, all evening, all week) to indicate duration of an activity, lately, etc.

Example: He has been suffering from toothache all day.
Example: I‘ve been feeling ill lately.

  • used with how long to form questions.

Example: How long have you been studying English?

  • without mention of time

Example: We‘ve been having a lot of difficulties with our new computer system. (describes a difficult situation that is not over.)

Verbs not used in continuous tense
We use the present perfect tense for some verbs (stative verbs) which are not normally used in the continuous tense.
I’m sorry, I have forgotten your name. (NOT: I’m sorry, I’ve been forgetting your name.)
I have found a solution to this problem. (NOT: I have been finding a solution to this problem.)
She has hated him since the day he offended her. (NOT: She has been hating him since the day he offended her.)
We have known each other since we first met. (NOT: We have been knowing each other since we first met.)
They have just tasted the chicken soup and want more. (NOT: They have just been tasting the chicken soup and want more.)

The present perfect continuous tense and the present perfect tense
With verbs such as feel (have a particular emotion), live, work and teach we can use the present perfect continuous tense or present perfect tense and show no difference in meaning.
Grandma has not been feeling very well lately.
Grandma has not felt very well recently.
We have been living in this town since 1999.
We have lived in this town since 1999.
My father has been working all day in the garden.
My father has worked all day in the garden.
His uncle has been teaching in London for five years now.
His uncle has taught in London for five years now.

The present perfect continuous and the present continuous tenses

  • The present perfect continuous tense describes the duration of an activity that began in the past and is still in progress.

Example: He has been reading in the library since it opened this morning. (NOT: He is reading in the library since it opened this morning.)
Example: I have been playing badminton with him for one year. (NOT: I am playing badminton with him for one year.)

  • The present continuous tense shows an action is going on right now with no mention of length of time.

Example: He is reading in the library right now. (NOT: He has been reading in the library right now.)