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Verbs and Tenses – The action and drama of English Grammar

Published on Sunday, October 19, 2014
‘Verbs’ is the most easy grammar topic and the most interesting as well! After all who does not like a bit of action! 

I’m sure every one of you is an expert at identifying the verb in any given sentence; the problem arises when identifying errors in a sentence when coupled with tenses!

From the exam point of view, verbs are tested on in sentence corrections/error detection; but verbs are the life line of any sentence as verbs show the happening of anything – it is the action grammar.

There are types of verbs and rules of verbs and they are all confusing and not very interesting; we will instead revise and rehash verbs along with tenses and see if at the end of this session everything is easy and everything makes sense.

So, today I’ll be doing verbs along with tenses, and your objective will be to learn to identify the tenses and how the verbs are used along with them.

As far as VERBS are concerned there are some which are known as main verbs and then there are the auxiliary verbs. Auxiliary verbs help the main verb and together they give a complete idea as to what is happening.

TENSES help in showing/expressing the time of the verb i.e., when the action is happening.

This table is what I call the ‘Tenses Matrix’, and I am hoping it’ll help you to kick start your verb/tenses lesson.
(currently happening)
(happened few minutes back!)
Perfect Continuous
(started happening few minutes back and still happening!)
It rains
It is raining
It has rained
It has been raining
It rained
It was raining
It had rained
It had been raining
It will rain
It will be raining
It would rain
(‘would’ is the perfect future form of the word ‘will’
It would have been

I will be explaining each of the above types and your job will be to refer back to this table for every example and try to fit in the sentence in every form of the tenses, that way you’ll learn how to change the tenses as well and you’ll remember the rules too!

Here we go!

Present Tenses

Present Tenses represent any event which is happening currently i.e., in the present.

(A) Present simple

(i) Expresses any action which happens regularly,
     Ex.: They go for shopping every weekend.
              Radha loves winters.
              Shyam plays cricket every evening.

(ii) Expresses universal truths.
      Ex.: The sun rises in the east.

 (I hope you’re putting the sentences in that ‘tenses matrix’ and working out the other forms as well!)

(B) Present continuous

(i) Expresses any action which is happening or going on at the time of speaking/writing.
     Ex.: I am writing an article.
            I am riding a bi-cycle.
           I am watching a movie.

(C) Present Perfect

(i)  Expresses those actions/events which have happened just immediately before

       Please remember, there is a subtle difference between perfect tense and past tense;
       perfect tenses express those events which have happened in the near past, or in my
       words, few minutes back!
       Ex.: She has submitted her essay. – Here we understand from the sentence that the
              essay was submitted few minutes or hours back, and that it was a recent event.

              {The past of this sentence will be – She had submitted her essay. – Which shows
               that the action happened long back!}

(D) Present Perfect Continuous

(i) Expresses those events/actions which began in the near past and is still continuing!
     Near past could mean few minutes back, or few hours or few days.
     Ex.: You have been studying since 5 in the morning.
             Nita has been watching T.V. for some time now.

Past tenses

Past tenses express those events which have happened in the past! Can’t get simpler than this!

(A) Past simple 

(i) Expresses any action which happened in the past at a definite time, as in, we know that
     an event has definitely happened.
     Ex.: They went for shopping last weekend.
              Radha loved winters when she was a child.
              Shyam played cricket in his school days.

    {I am using the same set of examples, so that you can easily identify the

(B) Past continuous

(i) Expresses any action which was happening in the past for some time; any action that
     was carried on for a duration of time in the past.
     Ex.: I was writing a book.
            I was learning to ride a bi-cycle.
           I was watching many movies back to back during my summer vacation!

(C) Past Perfect

(i)  Expresses those actions/events which have already taken place in the past, before a
      certain time; i.e., showing that an action was completed before a certain moment in
      the past.

      Please remember readers, past perfect is to be only used to express an action
      completed before the start of another.

      Ex.: She submitted her essay last Friday. {A simple past perfect.}
              I had submitted the essay before I started my vacation. {Past perfect showing
              two different events, namely, submitting essay and starting vacation.}

(D) Past Perfect Continuous

(i) Expresses those events/actions which began in the past and continued in the past!
     Ex.: He had been studying since 5 in the morning.
             Nita had been watching T.V. until her parents scolded her!

    The words, ‘had been’ indicate an action which continued for some time in the past.

Okay! Two tenses already dealt with and I hope you are getting the hang of it and making use of the tenses matrix…one more to go…

Future tenses

Future tenses express those events will happen in the future! For example: You will clear your IBPS PO/ SBI ASSOCIATE PO in 2014!

See, verbs are supporting you too!

(A) Future simple

(i) Expresses those actions that are going to happen in future.
     Ex.: They will go for shopping next weekend.
              Radha will love the winters in Manhattan.
              Shyam will play on the school’s cricket team this semester.

(B) Future continuous

         (i) Expresses those actions that would be going on for sometime in the future.
     Ex.: I shall be writing a book.
             I shall be learning to ride a bi-cycle.
             I shall be watching many movies back to back during my summer vacation!

(C) Future Perfect 

(i)  Expresses those actions/events that will be completed in the future by a certain time.

      Ex.: She shall have submitted her essay by next Friday.
              I will have submitted my essay before I start my vacation.
              She would definitely submit her essay by next Friday.

(D) Future Perfect Continuous

(i) Expresses those actions or events which is in happening already and will continue happening for some time in the future.
     Ex.: He will have been studying hard for medical school to clear his exams
            this year. {Please note, ‘would’ is not the past tense of will, it is the perfect tense
            of will.}
             Nita will have been watching T.V. for a long time before her parents came home!

That was hard work…and I am hoping you found it useful. English Grammar needs practice, just like math, I always keep saying. So, keep toiling on those practice sets!

And as my English teacher used to say, “Get your tenses perfect, or your future will be tense!”

Keep the feedbacks and comments flowing in! 
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Ramandeep Singh is a seasoned educator and banking exam expert at BankExamsToday. With a passion for simplifying complex concepts, he has been instrumental in helping numerous aspirants achieve their banking career goals. His expertise and dedication make him a trusted guide in the journey to banking success.

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