The Uses of Tenses

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We have seen the different tenses and forms in the previous lessons. But many of us may be confused when and where these tenses can this. Let's see them in detail in this lesson.
Teacher Let's study something new today.
Students O.K. mam.
Teacher The sun rose in the East, Joice which is the verb in this sentence?
Joice "rose" mam
Teacher you are correct. Laura, tell me the tense of the verb.
Laura past tense.
Teacher Is it correct to use past tense in this sentence?
Laura Yes, mam...!
Navin yeh! you intelligent fool! It is wrong (the class laughs)
Teacher Don't laugh. Navin, of course he is wrong But you shouldn't comment like this . say sorry to him.
Navin Sorry-- !
Emilia What tense must be used, mam ?
Teacher you should use simple present tense.
Joice Why , mam?
Teacher Because , it is a universal truth - that is it happens always in the same way. The sun always rises in the east. Now, tell me some sentences like this.
Joice The earth goes round the sun.
Teacher Good!
Donald Milk is white.
Teacher Very good!
Peter The moon shines during night.
Teacher Correct. Now we shall see the uses of different tenses.

I. Simple present tense

It is used :

a) For habitual actions:

  1. I go to church every Sunday.
  2. He reads newspaper every morning.

b) For general truths :

  1. The sun rises in the East.
  2. Truth ever triumphs.

c) In some exclamatory sentences which start with ‘here' and ‘ There'

  1. Here comes the hero!
  2. There it moves

d) In vivid narrative - instead of simple past :

  • Alexander the great stops his horse, gets, off and rushes forward. He draws his sword and stabs his enemy's head.

e) For some planned action / official program or time table - instead of future tense:

  1. The university exam commences next week.
    The minister arrives at 10.0' clock.

f) To introduce quotations :

  1. The speaker says " Education is the Key to success".
  2. Shakespeare says , " The Valiant never tastes death but once'.

g) Instead of simple future tense in clauses of time and condition:

  1. We shall wait till she comes. (time)
  2. If she proves her talent we shall offer her the job. (condition)

h) In running commentaries on sports - instead of present continuous tense :

  1. She runs fast and fast to win.
  2. He follows the track carefully.

i) For the following verbs - instead of continuous tense

(I) verbs of perception : see, hear, smell, notice, recognize.

  1. I hear a loud noise - not ‘am hearing'.
  2. we see a beautiful picture - not, ‘are seeing.

(II) Verbs of appearing : appear, look, seem.

  1. You seem very tired. - not ‘ are seeming'
  2. The moon appears slowly - not, is appearing'

(III) Verbs of emotion : want, wish, desire, feel, like, love, hate, hope, refuse, prefer.

  1. He desires to buy a car - not, is desiring'
  2. we feel proud of you. - not ‘ are feeling'

(IV) Verbs of thinking : think, suppose, believe, agree, consider, trust, remember, forget, know, understand, imagine, mean, mind.

  1. I understand your problem - not ‘ am understanding'
  2. They trust me and my family - not ‘ are trusting'
  3. We imagine the outcome of it. - not ‘ are imagining'

(V) have (Possess) : own, possess, belong , contain consist of.

  1. He owns a big house - not ‘ is owning'
  2. This bag belongs to me - not ‘ is belonging'

j) For future time with if, unless, when, while, as, before, after, until, by the time, as soon as.

  1. Please keep indoors if it rains.
  2. The students get up as soon as the teacher enters the class.
  3. We can read the newspaper until she comes.

II. Present continuous tense

It is used:

a) for an action going on at the time of speaking

  1. Cadi is preparing for the exam.
  2. They are playing cricket now.

b) for an action in the near future (Planned action)

  1. I am leaving for Ooty tomorrow.
  2. We are going for a picnic next week.

III. Present perfect tense

It is used :

a) for the completed actions with ‘just'

  1. we have just finished the work.
  2. she has just completed her course.

b) for the past action without time. (not definite)

  1. I have visited the Taj Mahal.
  2. He has excused her.

c) for the actions began in the past and continues to the present. (with for ………. Since)

  1. She has worked here for 5 years.
  2. They have waited here since morning.

Present perfect tense is never used with the adverb of time.

  1. I have bought this car yesterday - wrong. I bought this car yesterday - correct.
  2. We have written a test last hour - wrong. We wrote a test last hour. - Correct.
  3. She has received the parcel last Sunday - wrong. She received the parcel last Sunday. - correct.

IV. Present perfect continuous tense

It is used :

a) for an action began in the past and still continuing

  1. she has been studying for the past three hours.
  2. We have been cleaning our street for the past one week.

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