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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #112448: How to choose your past tense ? (again!)
How to choose your past tense ? (again!)
1) THE SIMPLE PAST or PRETERITE
a) How to build it? -- regular verbs: verb base (infinitive without 'to') + ed.
( The - ed finals are pronounced: [t], [d], or [id] ; please, learn the pronunciation together with the verb.
-- irregular verbs: there are no rules: THEY MUST BE LEARNT by heart! ...
b) Negative and interrogative forms of the simple past: use the auxiliary: Did/Didn't (did not) :
- At the last general meeting, I didn't see her, but she saw me ! Did you see her ?
c) The simple past is mainly used to express a completed action. The time of the action may be in the distant or the recent past (it is associated with a date or some time expressions):
- when I was young - then - last week - last month - last year - yesterday - ago ...
The moment of the action is what matters (even if not given explicitly.)
d) The simple past is the tense of narration, Stories are told in the simple past.
- He came in and said "Hello" to the whole family.
2) THE (SIMPLE) PRESENT PERFECT:
(In this lesson, the expression of duration, or of the starting point of an action won't be studied.)
a) How to build the present perfect? : it's always built with the auxiliary HAVE : HAVE (HAS in the 3rd pers. sing.) + past participle.
: The past participle is --- either the base verb + ed for regular verbs.
--- or the 3rd column in the list of irregular verbs (see above !)
For the interrogative form of the present perfect, you simply have to invert the normal word order => simple inversion= has/have auxiliary + subject...?
The negative form is made by the addition of not between the auxiliary and the verb.
- Yes! I have seen him but he hasn't seen me! Have you seen him too?
b) When to use it? : ** To express an action happening in an unspecified period between the past and the present., or if the time when the action was done is not important.
** When the action was performed during a period that hasn't finished yet.
** If the past action has consequences on the present.
- Have you seen this film? (have you? or haven't you? =this is what matters! )
- Louis hasn't met my sister, but he says he knows her well...
- Look! Somebody has broken this vase! (there are little pieces of crystal on the floor! = the past action has consequences in the present.)
* The sentence in the present perfect may have an adverb (already, ever/never, not ...yet, so far... the adverb must be placed between the auxiliary and the base verb!)
- Of course ! I have already read this book several times.
3) THE PRESENT PERFECT in - ing : is used to insist on the duration of the action.
a) The present perfect in -ing = have / has been VERB BASE + ing
- He's been living in Chicago for 20 years, but he'll come back to England next year.
At times, both forms (the simple present perfect or the - ing form) may be possible.
In their most common meanings, some verbs cannot be used in the present perfect in -ing:
- Stative (or state) verbs: agree, be, have, know, need, seem, think etc.
- Verbs of perceptions: see, hear, feel, smell, sense, etc.
- Verbs of sentiments: feel, like, love, hate, miss...
I know you don't like the present perfect... Please, be very careful and everything will go well for the test, especially as Lucy is taking you to Paris tennis open (Roland Garros)!
Good luck and thanks for your attention! (Please, be silent for the players' sake...)
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