Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Various tenses in detail

Simple Present Tense:

For habitual actions:

  • I read the newspaper everyday.

For instantaneous present: (commentaries, demonstrations)

  • He bowls from the pavilion end.

For historical present:

  • Here goes Laika into space.

Future expressed with certainty:

  • He arrives on the 7th.

To indicate possessions:

  • He has a quartz watch.

In proverbs:

  • Haste makes waste.

Simple Past Tense:

To refer to past actions/events:

  • I saw the film ten days ago.

To refer to present time (to show politeness):

  • I wondered if I could borrow your bike.

In conditional clause 2:

  • If I were a bird, I would fly high.

In reported speech:

  • NASA asked her to join duty.

Simple Future Tense:
To refer to future time or events with certainty:

  • I will go to his house tomorrow.

To refer to ordinary future actions:

  • The count-down will begin at 8.00 a.m. tomorrow.

Present Continuous
To refer to an action in progress at the moment of speaking or writing:

  • He is reading the newspaper.

With ‘always’ to express anger or irritation:

  • He is always disturbing me when I’m studying.

To refer to future time:

  • They are visiting the planetarium next week.

Past Continuous Tense:

To refer to an action in progress in the past:

  • He was surfing the net.

To refer to an action started before the action in the simple past:

  • He was watching cricket when I phoned him.

Future Continuous Tense:
To refer to an action as going on some time in the future:

  • They will be coming to my house next Sunday.

Present Perfect Tense:
To refer to an action just completed:

  • He has bought a telescope.

To refer to a past action recollected at the present time:

  • I have visited all the tourist spots in Tamilnadu.

To refer to past actions or events whose results are seen in the present:

  • It has rained here.

Past Perfect Tense:
To refer to the earlier of the two past actions:

  • When he switched on the computer, the power had failed.

Future Perfect Tense:
To refer to an activity or state extending up to a definite point in the future:

  • They will have settled the problem next week.

Present Perfect Continuous Tense:
To refer to an action began in the past and is in progress at the present moment:

  • It has been raining heavily since last night.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense
To refer to an activity of limited duration in the distant past:

  • Last year, he had been pestering his father for a full week to give his share of the property.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense:
To refer to an activity or state in progress at a definite point in the future:

  • Next month by now I will have been traveling to North India.

Past perfect tense : had + past participle

The past perfect tense expresses an action in the past that
was completed before another action in the past.

e.g.

  • a. 1. When we arrived at the central railway station, the Brindavan express had already left.
  • 2. They arrived at the bus station after the bus had left.
  • b. As a past supposition which does not in fact occur.
    e.g. If I had written the test I would have passed.
  • c. In the indirect form of the present perfect.
    e.g. She asked her if she had done her work.
  • d. Sometimes, the time expression relating to its past may be implied.
    e.g. A holiday was declared because a minister had died.
  • e. In negatives, there is a helping verb “had” which helps to form negatives.
    e.g. The bus hadn’t yet arrived, when we reached the bus station.

Past perfect continuous : had + been + v-ing

  • a. This tense is used to show that a certain action began before a certain point in the past and continued upto the time.
    e.g. 1. The telephone had been ringing for five minutes before it was answered.
    2. John had been doing his home work for two hours when suddenly the lights went out.
  • b. A repeated action can sometimes be expressed by past perfect continuous.
    e.g. She had been trying for an hour to get him on the phone.

Future perfect tense: shall / will have + past participle
e.g. shall have gone / will have gone

Future perfect tense refers to an action which will be completed before a point of time in the future.

  • e.g. 1. By the end of next month, she will have lived in this beautiful village for twenty years.
    2. The new building will have been completed before the reopening of the school.

The future perfect is used with time expression introduced by ‘before’, ‘at’, ‘by’, ‘on’ etc.

  • e.g. She hopes she will have mastered all the lessons by the time the examination begins.

Future perfect continuous tense: shall / will have + been + v-ing

The future perfect continuous is used to stress the duration of an action that takes place before another future event.

a. When the action is continuous

  • e.g. I shall have been living in this house for 15 years by next May.

b. When the action is expressed as a continuous action

  • e.g. By the end of next year he will have been teaching English for 25 years.

Note: This type of future perfect continuous is rare in speech or writing. But it exists in grammar.