Error Correction Rules - Tenses


Good knowledge of rules of grammar and their correct usage in right perspective, Is the only way of attempting the questions relating to the spotting errors.

Rule 1
In Present Indefinite Sentences, the number and person of the subject play very important role.
If the subject is singular number third person,affix `s' or 'es' to the verb. If the verb ends in any of the following ss, o, x, z, sh,ch. add, `es' instead of 's' with the verb.
Like : Pass, Miss, Do, Mix, Fix, Whiz, Buzz,Catch, Fetch, Clash, Rush etc.

Rule 2
When the main verb is in future, use Present Simple in clauses with; if till, as soon as, when,unless, before, until, even, if, in case and as.

(a) We shall wait till she arrives.
(b) I shall not go there, even if it rains.

Rule 3
Present Simple must be used instead of the Present Continuous with verbs of perception (feel, hear, smell etc.), Verbs of cognition (believe, know, think etc.), verbs of emotion (hope, love, hate etc.) which cannot be used normally in continuous form.

IncorrectWe are seeing with our eyes.
CorrectWe see with our eyes.

Incorrect Are you hearing a strange noise?
Correct Do you hear a strange noise?

Incorrect  We are smelling with our nose.
Correct We smell with our nose.

Incorrect  I am feeling you are wrong.
Correct  I feel you are wrong.

Incorrect The water is feeling cold.
Correct The water feels cold.
But these verbs can be used in progressive form in the following cases
  1. The Session Judge is hearing our case.
  2. We are thinking of going to USA next year.
  3. He is minding (looking after) the children, while his wife is away.
  4. I am seeing my lawyer today.
  5. I am having some difficulties with this puzzle.
Rule 4
One must not use adverbs of past time like; yesterday, last year, last month, ago, short while ago etc. with Present Perfect Tense.
He has completed his book yesterday. (Incorrect)
He completed his book yesterday. (Correct)

Rule 5
Use of Since/ForStudents commit mistakes in using 'Since' or 'For'. Please note, ‘For' is used for 'Period of Time' and 'Since' is used for 'Point of Time'. With morning, evening etc., use since and with 'some time','hours','months', etc. use 'for.

Rule 6
If two or more actions took place in a sequence, we use Simple Past to denote the actions. (Otherwise Past Perfect is used to denote the earlier action) This is usually used with conjunction 'before'.
(a) He switched on the light before he opened the door.
(b) The train started just before I reached the station.

Rule 7
The use of Simple Past with, 'Wish' and 'If only' shows 'unreal past' and present state of things.
(a) I wish I were a millionaire! (I am not a millionaire)
(b) If only I knew her! (I don't know her)

Rule 8
In the following structure, the use of Simple Past denotes 'unreal past' and present time situation .
(a) It is timewe went home. (It is time for us to go home)
(b) It is time you finished. (It is time for you to finish)

Rule 9
Use of Past Continuous with 'When' and 'While' , 'When' is usually used when one action was completed and another while action was going on.
When he arrived, his wife was washing her clothes.
`While' is used when two actions were going on at a time.
While she was cooking, I was washing the clothes.

Rule 10
Past Perfect is used when we look back on earlier action from a certain point in the past.
She had completed her work, before I reached there.

Rule 11
The Past Perfect is also used for an action which began before the time of speaking in the past and which stopped some time before the time of speaking.
He had served in a bank for twenty years, then he retired and established his business. His children were now well settled.
Here we cannot use either since or the Past Perfect Continuous.

Rule 12
Past Perfect Continuous is used when the action began before the time of speaking in the past, and continued up to that time.
It was now eight and she was tired because she had been cleaning the house since dawn.

Rule 13
When two actions are to be taken place on some future time, we use Future Perfect for the action completed first and Present Simple for the action to be completed afterwards.
(a) The student will have left the class before the teacher comes.
(b) The Principal will have started before I reach there.

Rule 14
Future Perfect is also used for such incidents/actions, about which we presume that another person already had the knowledge of that incident or the action is already completed by that time.
(a) You will have heard about Mother Teresa.
(b) He will have read the newspaper so far.

Sequence of Tense
The Sequence of Tenses are the principles which govern the tense of the verb in a subordinate clause vis-a-vis the tense of the verb in a principal clause. The rules which determine the tense of the subordinate clause if the tense of the principal clause is in present or past or future, are studied under the Sequence of Tense.

Rule 1
If the principal clause is in the Past Tense, the subordinate clause should also be in the past.
(a) My father assured me that he would buy a bike for me.
(b) He failed because he didn't work hard.

(i) A Past Tense in the principal clause may be followed by a Present Tense in the subordinate clause when the subordinate clause expresses a universal truth, mathematical calculation, historical fact, moral guidelines, habitual fact or something that has not vet changed. In such cases the tense of the subordinate clause is not governed by the tense of principal clause (The subordinate clause is usually in Present Tense in such cases).
(a) He said that the Earth revolves round the Sun.
(b) We learnt at school that the truth always triumphs.
(ii) If the subordinate clause is introduced by a conjunction of comparison such as ; 'than', 'as well as' etc. in such case, the Past Tense in the principal clause may be followed by any tense in the subordinate clause as per the sense of the statement. Further more, any tense in principal clause can be followed by any tense in the subordinate clause.

(a) He loved me more than he loved you.
(b) He loved me more than he loves you.
(c) He loved me more than he will love you.
(d) He will love you more than he loved me.
(e) He has loved you more than he loved me.
(f) He will love you more than he loves me.
(g) She helps you as well as she helped me.
(h) She will help you as well as she has helped me.
(iii) If the subordinate clause is an adjective clause , in that case, it may be in any tense even the principal clause is in Past Tense.

(a) I visited the place where accident took place.
(b) I visited the village where he lives.
(c) I visited the hotel where she will stay.

Rule 2
A Present or Future Tense in the principal clause may be followed by any tense.
(a) He says that she passed the examination.
(b) He says that she will come tomorrow.
(c) Ram says that he likes that girl.
(d) Ram will say that Sita is a beautiful girl.
(e) Ram will say that he didn't like that girl.
(f) He will say that he will pass the examination positively.

 Exception :If the subordinate clause is introduced by if, till, as soon as, when, unless, before, until, even if, as. etc. and the principal clause is in Simple Future, in that case the verb in subordinate clause must be in Present Simple.
(a) We shall not go to market if it rains.
(b) He will wait till she comes.

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