Tenses

Lesson 5.1

All of you had a day’s rest. And still we find that some of you were working hard on finishing the homework. We got a good number of finished home work. There wasn’t much to correct and this shows that the lessons were easy to follow. Feeling so happy about that!
Tenses make everyone tense. It is so confusing and never stays in our mind.
The problem again lies not in the topic but the way it is taught and unsuccessfully learned.
It is riddled with misconceptions. Let’s correct some of them from a practical, functional point of view.
There are three basic categories that refer to time, past, present and future. Each category has 4 subcategories (simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous) and that makes it twelve.
Since the names were originally Latin, they sound funny. For example, it is not simple past but past simple! This is the first of the twelve tenses. Try writing the names of the other 11 on your own.
But it is better to separate tenses from the concept of time. It is better to forget the main categories and consider tenses as twelve in number. They are twelve different structures which can add a different meaning to our sentences. They have different uses.
Let’s learn to identify them.

1. If you see the operative ‘will’, you can be sure that it is future tense.
2. If you see ‘had, did, was’ or ‘were’, you can say that the tense is past.
3. If you don’t seen any of them, then it must be present tense.
We have got the first name of the tenses. But some of them have middle names and surnames too. Let’s find them.
4. If you find ‘has, have’ or ‘had’ then ‘perfect’ is the surname of the middle name
5. If you find and ‘ing’ form (reading, going), the surname is ‘continuous’
6. If you are able to find or dig out ‘is, are, am, was, were, do, does, did’ the surname is ‘simple’.
Always go from top to bottom. By the time you reach the 5th line, you might get the full name. Try the 6th line, only if you haven’t.
Practise this a few times and you will be able to name the tense without ever making an error. It is a rare feat. Even teachers find it hard.

Exercise 1
Find the tense of the following sentences:

1. We are going to school.
2. When will you come to school?
3. He sings very well.
4. He had done his duty.
5. They have gone home.
6. We had been waiting.
7. We decided to go home.
8. She will be reading it today.
9. She will have come home.
10. We have been trying to reach you.

Exercise 2
Find the tense of the following clauses:

1. They are coming to the party,
2. Harold was a strange fellow,
3. He played well till the end,
4. She made many good friends,
5. Mary will help you cook,
6. People come here very often,
7. It can’t be true,
8. You couldn’t help him,
9. He carried it home,
10. They owned a nice house,
11. We were in a hurry,
12. He is a smart fellow,
13. They are playing cricket,
14. They do a lot of mischief,
15. He shows some interest now,
16. John likes tea,
17. He sells good cakes,
18. You speak softly,
19. She swims well,
20. He takes English lessons,
21. They often go to the pictures,
22. It costs fifty rupees,
23. She swims well,
24. They try to understand,
25. He walks to work,
26. I do it well,
27. You sleep well,
28. They play football,
29. He loves his wife,
30. We believe him,
31. Carrie spilled the soup,….
32. I run faster than any turtle in the world,
33. You will always remember this lesson,.
34. We’ll invent a better mouse trap,
35. I am the man, …
36. John forgot his password,
37. Sandpaper makes poor facial tissue,
38. Kevin and Travis hauled the boat out of the water,
39. We love your chocolate chip cookies,
40. I’ll tell you a secret that you won’t believe,
41. William knew the story,
42. Yes, we were here yesterday,
43. I think you don’t know,
44. I know who said that,
45. The geese will fly north in the spring,
46. He wasn’t angry,
47. Fred found fifty frogs floating in the fudge,
48. Ashley was the best speaker at the meeting,
49. They poured mustard on my peaches,
50. We left after Marvin found his glasses,

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