Recognize the Tense of Verbs

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The tenses of a verb are the forms that help to show time. There are 6 tenses in English: present, past, future, present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. This article shall examine the uses of the first three tenses.

 The present tense form of a verb is the same as the verb’s base form, except for the third- person singular, which ads –s or –es. Exceptions are the verbs be and have. The present tense expresses a constant, repeated, or habitual action or condition. It can also express a general truth. EG Molly puts horseradish on ham sandwiches. [not just this ham sandwich but every ham sandwich; a repeated action]. EG The Yazoo River flows into the Mississippi River. [always; a habitual action] EG Ice melts at thirty-two degrees Farenheit. [a general truth]. The present tense can also express an action or a condition that exists only now.

 The present tense is sometimes used in historical writing to express past events and, more often, in poetry, fiction, and journalism (especially in sports writing) to convey to the reader a sense of “being there.” This usage is sometimes called the historical present tense. EG Though he is aware of the danger, Benjamin Franklin decides to risk electrocution to prove his theory. The runner on first base inches towards second.

 Use the past tense to express an action or a condition that was started and completed in the past. EG General Lee shook General Grant’s hand. Nearly all regular and irregular verbs (except be) have just one past-tense form, such as climbed or ran. The verb be has two past-tense forms, was and were.

 Use the future tense to express an action or a condition that will occur in the future. You form the future tense of any verb by using the auxiliary verb shall or will with the base form: I shall wait; you will telephone. Note: In modern American English shall is very seldom used except for questions in which I or we is the subject: Shall I meet you there? Shall we have lunch now?

 EGIgnacio will mask the woodwork. Elaine will paint the room. There are three other ways to express future time besides using the future tense. They are as follows: 1 Use going to with the present tense of be and the base form of the verb. EG Ignacio is going to mask the woodwork. 2. Use about to with the present tense of be and the base form of a verb. EG Ignacio is about to mask the woodwork. 3. Use the present tense with an adverb or an adverb phrase that shows future time. EG Elaine paints the room tomorrow. Elaine paints the room next Tuesday morning.


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