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How to use verb tenses correctly
2014/10/07

Task 1: Study the table and my comments below.

 
Time frame
Tense name
Use in general/business English
1
No time
- Present simple
 
- Routines and procedures
- Facts which are not about time
- Opinions which are not about time
- General descriptive statements which are not about time
2
Present
(unfinished)
time
- Present continuous
 
- Present perfect
 
- Present simple
 
- Things you are doing at the moment
- Current market situation
- Ongoing business trends and activities
- Life experiences
- Situations which include now
- Sales or project results
- Facts which are only true now
- Opinions which are only true now
- General descriptive statements which are only true now
3
Past
(finished)
time
- Past simple
- Events in your past
- Key events in company history
4
Future time
chunks
- Personal arrangements
- Scheduled events
- Impersonal forecasts

* For no time, use the present simple. You may have learnt previously that present simple means present time. It does not, and it’s very important that you remember this.

* For present time, you can use three different tenses depending on what kind of present time you mean. If you want to talk about things which are ongoing or incomplete at the time of speaking, use present continuous. If you want to talk about results and life experiences use present perfect. You may have learnt previously that the present perfect means past time. It does not, and it’s very important that you remember this too. If you want to talk about facts and opinions which are only true for the moment of speaking, then use the present simple tense together with a present time word. For example: Currently, this market is very difficult to do business in. Or The company has 200 employees at the moment. If you don’t include the time word, your reader or listener will assume that your opinion is always like this.

* For past time, generally you can just use the past simple You may have learnt the past continuous and past perfect tenses in high school, but you don’t really need to worry about these two tenses, as they are not so common in business English, or even in everyday conversational English. They are more used in literature, or in telling stories.

* For future time, previously you probably learnt that will is used for the future. Unfortunately, the future is not simple, and there are in fact many different future chunks, depending on what kind of future you want to express.

Do the next task to really make sure you understand what you have just learnt.

Task 2: Next to these example sentences write the number of the time frame from the table in task 1. Look at the example.

A
2
 I am not happy with my job these days.
B
 
 I go to the gym every Wednesday evening.
C
 
 I have never been to Japan.
D
 
 I really hated learning English at school.
E
 
 I saw that movie last week.
F
 
 I think my boss is very cool.
G
 
 I went to Japan in 1999.
H
 
 I work in the accounts department.
I
 
 I’m doing an EMBA.
J
 
 I’m going to go to the movies with my boyfriend tonight.
K
 
 I’m working on a new design.
L
 
 I’ve done my MBA.
M
 
 It’s really cold today.
N
 
 My company is a global market leader.
O
 
 My flight leaves at 9.00.
P
 
 Sales have gone up this month.
Q
 
 Sales will probably fall in the first quarter.
R
 
 The company was founded in 1966.
S
 
 The economy grew by .02% last year.
T
 
 The market is expanding.
U
 
 The meeting starts at 8.30.
V
 
 We are getting married next month.

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*2014/10/09更新
 
Feedback:
 
Check out your answers in the table below and see my comments.
 
A  
 2
L  
 2
B  
 1
M  
 2
C  
 2
N  
 1
D  
 3
O  
 4
E  
 3
P  
 2
F  
 1
Q  
 4
G  
 3
R  
 3
H  
 1
S  
 3
 I  
 2
T  
 2
J  
 4
U  
 4
K  
 2
V  
 4
 
* I suspect you may have got the following ones wrong: C, L, O and U. Perhaps you thought that C and L are 3. Remember what I said above, that the present perfect does not mean past time. Perhaps you thought that O and U are no time because they use the present simple. Actually, this is a special kind of future.
 
* Notice how R, S, G and E all have past time chunks. However, if we take the time chunks out, we can still understand that these sentences are past time because of the past simple tense.
 
* Notice how J and V also have future time chunks. However, if we take these time chunks out, we can also still understand that these sentences are future time because of the tenses used. These are also special future tenses.
 
* Don’t worry at this stage if you have some answers wrong. It’s possible that you still are not aware of the real meaning of these verb tenses.
 
Verb tenses are very important in English, as I hope you have realized from this section. If you don’t get the tense right, your reader or listener will get confused as to what time period you are talking about.
文章分類:Tense overview
下一篇:Using Present Simple
 
 
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