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Old Tuesday, August 07, 2007
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Thumbs up English Grammar ( for Beginners )

English Grammar


Level I


Parts of Speech :




Noun

A noun names a person, place, thing, or idea.

Common Nouns and Proper Nouns

Common nouns refer to common, everyday things.

The dog sleeps in her own bed.
His friend is crazy about popcorn.
My cousin went to college.




A proper noun refers to specific things that are unique or have names. Proper nouns begin with capital letters.

My friend Miranda is from Wyoming.
In 2001 Halloween falls on a Wednesday.
Most Ecuadorians practice Christianity.




Concrete Nouns and Abstract Nouns


A concrete noun names something you can experience with at least one of your senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell). Most nouns are concrete nouns.

My ice melted in the sun.
Darrel's kitten tore apart the yarn.
Thunder rattled our windows.



An abstract noun names something you cannot experience with your senses. Sometimes abstract nouns are called "idea nouns."

Sandra's courage and curiosity made her a good explorer.
It's important to have respect in a friendship.
Honesty is usually the best policy.












Pronoun


A pronoun is used in place of a noun or nouns. Common pronouns include he, her, him, I, it, me, she, them, they, us, and we. Here are some examples:

INSTEAD OF: Luma is a good athlete.

She is a good athlete. (The pronoun she replaces Luma.)

INSTEAD OF: The beans and tomatoes are fresh-picked.

They are fresh-picked. (The pronoun they replaces the beans and tomatoes.)


Often a pronoun takes the place of a particular noun. This noun is known as the antecedent. A pronoun "refers to," or directs your thoughts toward, its antecedent.


Let's call Luma and ask her to join the team. (Her is a pronoun; Luma is its antecedent.)

To find a pronoun's antecedent, ask yourself what that pronoun refers to. What does her refer to in the sentence above—that is, who is the her? The her in the sentence is Luma; therefore, Luma is the antecedent.



Subjective Pronouns

A subjective pronoun acts as the subject of a sentence—it performs the action of the verb. The subjective pronouns are he, I, it, she, they, we, and you.

He spends ages looking out the window.
After lunch, she and I went to the planetarium.




Objective Pronouns


An objective pronoun acts as the object of a sentence—it receives the action of the verb. The objective pronouns are her, him, it, me, them, us, and you.

Cousin Eldred gave me a trombone.
Take a picture of him, not us!




Possessive Pronouns


A possessive pronoun tells you who owns something. The possessive pronouns are hers, his, its, mine, ours, theirs, and yours.

The red basket is mine.
Yours is on the coffee table.




Demonstrative Pronouns


A demonstrative pronoun points out a noun. The demonstrative pronouns are that, these, this, and those.

That is a good idea.
These are hilarious cartoons.


A demonstrative pronoun may look like a demonstrative adjective, but it is used differently in a sentence: it acts as a pronoun, taking the place of a noun.



Interrogative Pronouns


An interrogative pronoun is used in a question. It helps to ask about something. The interrogative pronouns are what, which, who, whom, and compound words ending in "ever," such as whatever, whichever, whoever, and whomever.

What on earth is that?
Who ate the last Fig Newton?



An interrogative pronoun may look like an interrogative adjective, but it is used differently in a sentence: it acts as a pronoun, taking the place of a noun.






Indefinite Pronouns


An indefinite pronoun refers to an indefinite, or general, person or thing. Indefinite pronouns include all, any, both, each, everyone, few, many, neither, none, nothing, several, some, and somebody.

Something smells good.
Many like salsa with their chips.

An indefinite pronoun may look like an indefinite adjective, but it is used differently in a sentence: it acts as a pronoun, taking the place of a noun.




Relative Pronouns


A relative pronoun introduces a clause, or part of a sentence, that describes a noun. The relative pronouns are that, which, who, and whom.

You should bring the book that you love most.
That introduces "you love most," which describes the book.

Hector is a photographer who does great work.
Who introduces "does great work," which describes Hector.




Reflexive Pronouns


A reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject of a sentence. The reflexive pronouns are herself, himself, itself, myself, ourselves, themselves, and yourselves. Each of these words can also act as an intensive pronoun (see below).

I learned a lot about myself at summer camp. (Myself refers back to I.)
They should divide the berries among themselves. (Themselves refers back to they.)




Intensive Pronouns


An intensive pronoun emphasizes its antecedent (the noun that comes before it). The intensive pronouns are herself, himself, itself, myself, ourselves, themselves, and yourselves. Each of these words can also act as a reflective pronoun (see above).

I myself don't like eggs.
The queen herself visited our class.










Verb

A verb tells about an action or a state of being. There are three types of verbs: action, linking, and auxiliary.



Action Verbs

An action verb expresses action. It tells what a person or a thing does.

Muskrats swim in marshes.
We built a fantastic sandcastle.


To find out whether a word is an action verb, ask yourself whether that word expresses something you can do. Can you muskrat? No! Can you marsh? No. But can you swim? Yes—swim is an action verb.



Linking Verbs


A linking verb links the subject of the sentence with information about it. Sometimes linking verbs are called "state-of-being verbs."

Jeremy is tired.
This apple tastes so sweet.


In the first sentence, is links Jeremy to information about him-the fact that he is tired. That is his state of being.

In the second sentence, tastes links apple to information about it—its sweetness. Did you think taste was an action verb? Well, it is—when the subject is doing the tasting. But here, the apple isn't doing any tasting. The apple itself tastes sweet. That is its state of being.



Auxiliary Verbs


An auxiliary verb goes with another verb. Sometimes auxiliary verbs are called "helping verbs" because they introduce or "help out" the main verb.

Ms. Sothros is reading our stories.
We should dig for buried treasure.


In the first sentence, the auxiliary verb, is, helps out the main verb, reading, by telling when the action is taking place—right now.

In the second sentence, the auxiliary verb, should, helps out the main verb, dig, by telling about its importance—digging must be important, if it is something that should happen.

Note that you can't is or should. This reminds you that they are not action verbs.

Be, have, and do are the most common auxiliary verbs. Other common auxiliary verbs include can, could, should, would, may, might, and must.





Check Its Function!

In English, the same word can have different functions. For instance, paint can be a verb or a noun. Here are some examples.

Let's paint the garage.
We brought paint to school.

In the first sentence, paint is a verb—it is something you can do. In the second sentence, paint is a noun—it is a thing.

Our rabbits live in a hutch.
Luis sang before a live audience.

In the first sentence, live is a verb—it is something you can do. In the second sentence, live is an adjective—it describes something.

Smile, dance, contact, ski, color, and research are just a few of the many other English words that can have different functions.










Adverb

An adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. In this case, "modifies" means "tells more about." An adverb tells more about how the verb is being done. Many adverbs end in "-ly."


Susan writes quickly and well.
Herbie will visit tomorrow.
Let's go home.
That was a very funny joke.


Adverbs can answer questions like these: "How?" (quickly and well) "When?" (tomorrow) "Where?" (home) "To what extent?" (very funny)




Interrogative Adverbs


An interrogative adverb asks a question. The interrogative adverbs are how, when, where, and why.

How did you get here?
Where are you going next?



Conjunctive Adverbs


A conjunctive adverb joins two ideas. It can give emphasis to one of the ideas, or answer the question "How are they related?" Some common conjunctive adverbs are besides, however, indeed, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, and therefore.

I am allergic to cats; nevertheless, I love them.
It might rain later; therefore, we should pack our umbrellas.


A semicolon is used before a conjunctive adverb, and a comma is used after it.






to be continued
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Adjective

An adjective modifies a noun or pronoun. In this case, "modifies" means "tells more about." Adjectives are words that describe things.



I planted orange flowers in the round pot.
The long-eared rabbit nibbled the little carrots.


Adjectives can answer the question "What kind?" (orange flowers; little carrots)



Possessive Adjectives


A possessive adjective modifies a noun by telling whom it belongs to. It answers the question "Whose?" Possessive adjectives include his, her, its, my, our, their, and your.

You can share my rice.
Have you seen their house?



Demonstrative Adjectives


The demonstrative adjectives that, these, this, those, and what answer the question "Which?"

I'm going to open that present.
Those socks look warm.

A demonstrative adjective may look like a demonstrative pronoun, but it is used differently in the sentence: it is an adjective, used to modify a noun or pronoun.




Interrogative Adjectives


The interrogative adjectives what and which are used in a question. They help to ask about something.

What movie do you want to see?
Which leaves turn color first?

An interrogative adjective may look like an interrogative pronoun, but it is used differently in the sentence: it is an adjective, used to modify a noun or pronoun.




Indefinite Adjectives


An indefinite adjective gives indefinite, or general, information. Often, it answers the question "How much?" Some common indefinite adjectives are all, any, each, every, few, many, and some.

Many children like dinosaurs.
Did you want some bananas?

An indefinite adjective may look like an indefinite pronoun, but it is used differently in the sentence: it is an adjective, used to modify a noun or pronoun.













Conjunction

Conjunctions connect words or groups of words.



Coordinating Conjunctions

A coordinating conjunction is a word that connects two words or two groups of words that are used in the same way—that is, they are the same part of speech or they are grammatically alike. The coordinating conjunctions are and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet.

Do you want to play checkers or cards?

We're going to be Calvin and Hobbes this Halloween.



Correlative Conjunctions


Correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs. They connect two words or two groups of words that are used in the same way—that is, they are the same part of speech or they are grammatically alike. They include both . . . and; either . . . or; neither . . . nor; not only . . . but; and whether . . . or.

Both Andy and Rex are coming to dinner.
I would like either a red marker or an orange marker.






Subordinating Conjunctions


A subordinating conjunction is a word that connects two groups of words that are not used in the same way—that is, they are not the same part of speech and they are not grammatically alike. Some common subordinating conjunctions are after, because, before, how, if, since, than, though, until, when, where, and while.

Bobby played in the park until it got dark.
The movie was funnier than I had expected.

Sometimes a subordinating conjunction comes at the beginning of a sentence.

Since you are here, let's rehearse.
After Margaret had lunch, she took a nap.













Interjection


An interjection expresses an emotion. It might show excitement or surprise.


Wow! That is a giant pumpkin!
Ouch, you stepped on my toe!
Yippee! We won!
Whoa! Hold your horses!
Bravo, you did a great job!




An interjection often appears at the beginning of a sentence. It is usually followed by an exclamation point or a comma.














Prepositions


A preposition links a noun, pronoun, or phrase to another part of a sentence. Because many prepositions show direction, some say that "a preposition is anywhere a cat can go."


The cat walked across the couch.
The cat leaned against the couch.
The cat strolled along the couch.
The cat sneaked around the couch.
The cat leapt at the couch.
The cat crept behind the couch.
The cat hid below the couch.
The cat scampered beneath the couch.
The cat leaned beside the couch.
The cat tip-toed by the couch.
The cat crawled inside the couch.
The cat strutted near the couch.
The cat jumped off the couch.
The cat marched over the couch.
The cat rambled past the couch.
The cat plodded to the couch.
The cat stalked toward the couch.
The cat wiggled underneath the couch.
The cat settled upon the couch.
The cat snuggled within the couch.


A preposition leads to an object, which is the part of the sentence that receives the action of the verb. The preposition also tells how the object is related to the rest of the sentence.

The cat walked across the couch.

The couch is the object, because it receives the action of the verb—the walking. The preposition, across, tells how the couch is related to the rest of the sentence. It links the fact that the cat walked with information about where it walked: across the couch.

Prepositions can help show not just where something took place, but how and when. Besides the ones listed above, some common prepositions are about, after, among, between, beyond, but, despite, during, for, of, since, through, until, and without.











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English Grammar Terms


Active Voice

In the active voice, the subject of the verb does the action (eg They killed the President). See also Passive Voice.

Adjective

A word like big, red, easy, French etc. An adjective describes a noun or pronoun.

Adverb

A word like slowly, quietly, well, often etc. An adverb modifies a verb.

Article

The "indefinite" articles are a and an. The "definite article" is the.

Auxiliary Verb

A verb that is used with a main verb. Be, do and have are auxiliary verbs. Can, may, must etc are modal auxiliary verbs.

Clause

A group of words containing a subject and its verb (for example: It was late when he arrived).

Conjunction

A word used to connect words, phrases and clauses (for example: and, but, if).

Infinitive

The basic form of a verb as in to work or work.

Interjection

An exclamation inserted into an utterance without grammatical connection (for example: oh!, ah!, ouch!, well!).

Modal Verb

An auxiliary verb like can, may, must etc that modifies the main verb and expresses possibility, probability etc. It is also called "modal auxiliary verb".

Noun

A word like table, dog, teacher, America etc. A noun is the name of an object, concept, person or place. A "concrete noun" is something you can see or touch like a person or car. An "abstract noun" is something that you cannot see or touch like a decision or happiness. A "countable noun" is something that you can count (for example: bottle, song, dollar). An "uncountable noun" is something that you cannot count (for example: water, music, money).

Object

In the active voice, a noun or its equivalent that receives the action of the verb. In the passive voice, a noun or its equivalent that does the action of the verb.

Participle

The -ing and -ed forms of verbs. The -ing form is called the "present participle". The -ed form is called the "past participle" (for irregular verbs, this is column 3).

Part Of Speech

One of the eight classes of word in English - noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction and interjection.

Passive Voice

In the passive voice, the subject receives the action of the verb (eg The President was killed). See also Active Voice.

Phrase

A group of words not containing a subject and its verb (eg on the table, the girl in a red dress).

Predicate

Each sentence contains (or implies) two parts: a subject and a predicate. The predicate is what is said about the subject.

Preposition

A word like at, to, in, over etc. Prepositions usually come before a noun and give information about things like time, place and direction.

Pronoun

A word like I, me, you, he, him, it etc. A pronoun replaces a noun.

Sentence

A group of words that express a thought. A sentence conveys a statement, question, exclamation or command. A sentence contains or implies a subject and a predicate. In simple terms, a sentence must contain a verb and (usually) a subject. A sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop (.), question mark (?) or exclamation mark (!).

Subject

Every sentence contains (or implies) two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject is the main noun (or equivalent) in a sentence about which something is said.

Tense

The form of a verb that shows us when the action or state happens (past, present or future). Note that the name of a tense is not always a guide to when the action happens. The "present continuous tense", for example, can be used to talk about the present or the future.

Verb

A word like (to) work, (to) love, (to) begin. A verb describes an action or state.
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Tenses



Simple Present Tense

How do we make the Simple Present Tense?

Structure : subject + auxiliary verb + main verb


There are three important exceptions:

1. For positive sentences, we do not normally use the auxiliary.
2. For the 3rd person singular (he, she, it), we add s to the main verb or es to the auxiliary.
3. For the verb to be, we do not use an auxiliary, even for questions and negatives.


Look at these examples with the main verb like:


subject ______ auxiliary verb _____ main verb

I, you, we, they ______________________ like ______________coffee.
He, she, it ___________________________ likes _____________coffee.
- I, you, we, they ____________________do not like ___________coffee.
He, she, it __________________________does not like __________coffee.
? Do I, you, we, they ___________________ like ______________coffee?
Does he, she, it _______________________ like _______________coffee?




Look at these examples with the main verb be. Notice that there is no auxiliary:


subject ________ main verb

I __________________ am French.
You, we, they _______ are French.
He, she, it ___________is French.
- I _________________am not old.
You, we, they ________are not old.
He, she, it ___________is not old.
? Am I ______________ late?
Are you, we, they ____ late?
Is he, she, it ________ late?






How do we use the Simple Present Tense?

We use the simple present tense when:

* the action is general
* the action happens all the time, or habitually, in the past, present and future
* the action is not only happening now
* the statement is always true




Examples :

1. John drives a taxi.

It is John's job to drive a taxi. He does it every day. Past, present and future.

Look at these examples:

I live in New York.
The Moon goes round the Earth.
John drives a taxi.
He does not drive a bus.
We do not work at night.
Do you play football?



Note that with the verb to be, we can also use the simple present tense for situations that are not general. We can use the simple present tense to talk about now. Look at these examples of the verb "to be" in the simple present tense—some of them are general, some of them are now:



Am I right?
Tara is not at home.
You are happy.


(The situation is now.)



I am not fat.
Why are you so beautiful?
Ram is tall.


(The situation is general. Past, present and future.)








to be continued (Present Continous Tense)
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Present Continuous Tense

How do we make the Present Continuous Tense?


Quote:
The structure of the present continuous tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb + main verb (ing form)

Look at these examples:


subject ____________ auxiliary verb __________ main verb

+ ___I ____________________am ______________speaking to you.
+ ___ You _________________are ______________-reading this.
- ___She _________________is not ______________staying in London.
- ___We _________________are not _____________playing football.
? ___Is he _________________________________ watching TV?
? __Are they _______________________________ waiting for John?





How do we use the Present Continuous Tense?


We use the present continuous tense to talk about:
  • action happening now
  • action in the future



Present continuous tense for action happening now

a) for action happening exactly now

I am eating my lunch.


b) for action happening around now

The action may not be happening exactly now, but it is happening just before and just after now, and it is not permanent or habitual.


John is going out with Mary.



Examples:

Look at these examples:

Muriel is learning to drive.
I am living with my sister until I find an apartment.


Present continuous tense for the future

We can also use the present continuous tense to talk about the future—if we add a future word!! We must add (or understand from the context) a future word. "Future words" include, for example, tomorrow, next year, in June, at Christmas etc. We only use the present continuous tense to talk about the future when we have planned to do something before we speak. We have already made a decision and a plan before speaking.


I am taking my exam next month.


Look at these examples:

We're eating in a restaurant tonight. We've already booked the table..
They can play tennis with you tomorrow. They're not working.
When are you starting your new job?




to be continued (Present Perfect Tense)
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Present Perfect Tense


How do we make the Present Perfect Tense?

Quote:
The structure of the present perfect tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb + main verb (3rd form)


Here are some examples of the present perfect tense:



subject _________ auxiliary verb _________ main verb

+____ I_________________ have ______________ seen ET.
+____ You _______________have ______________ eaten mine.
- ____She ______________ has not _____________been to Rome.
- ____We ______________have not ____________played football.
? ____Have you _____________________________ finished?
? ____Have they _____________________________ done it?




Contractions with the present perfect tense

When we use the present perfect tense in speaking, we usually contract the subject and auxiliary verb. We also sometimes do this when we write.

I have (I've)
You have (You've)
He has
She has
It has
John has
The car has He's
She's
It's
John's
The car's
We have (We've)
They have (They've)



examples:

I've finished my work.
John's seen ET.
They've gone home.




How do we use the Present Perfect Tense?

This tense is called the present perfect tense. There is always a connection with the past and with the present. There are basically three uses for the present perfect tense:

1. experience
2. change
3. continuing situation



Present perfect tense for experience

We often use the present perfect tense to talk about experience from the past. We are not interested in when you did something. We only want to know if you did it:


I have seen ET.
He has lived in Bangkok.
Have you been there?
We have never eaten caviar.



Connection with past: the event was in the past.
Connection with present: in my head, now, I have a memory of the event; I know something about the event; I have experience of it.




Present perfect tense for change

We also use the present perfect tense to talk about a change or new information:

I have bought a car.
John has broken his leg.
Has the price gone up?
The police have arrested the killer.




Present perfect tense for continuing situation



We often use the present perfect tense to talk about a continuing situation. This is a state that started in the past and continues in the present (and will probably continue into the future). This is a state (not an action). We usually use for or since with this structure.



I have worked here since June.
He has been ill for 2 days.
How long have you known Tara?

Connection with past: the situation started in the past.
Connection with present: the situation continues in the present.







to be continued (Present Perfect Continues Tense)
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Old Thursday, August 16, 2007
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Present Perfect Continuous Tense


How do we make the Present Perfect Continuous Tense?

Quote:
The structure of the present perfect continuous tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb + auxiliary verb + main verb (ing form)

Here are some examples of the present perfect continuous tense:



subject _______ auxiliary verb _____auxiliary verb ________main verb

+_____ I _____________have ___________ been________ waiting for one hour.
+ ____ You ___________ have __________ been _________talking too much.
- _____ It ___________has not ___________ been _________ raining.
- _____ We _________ have not __________ been _________ playing football.
? ____ Have you _______________________ been _________ seeing her?
? _____ Have they _____________________ been __________doing their homework?




Contractions



When we use the present perfect continuous tense in speaking, we often contract the subject and the first auxiliary. We also sometimes do this in informal writing.


I have been I've been
You have been You've been
He has been
She has been
It has been
John has been
The car has been He's been
She's been
It's been
John's been
The car's been
We have been We've been
They have been They've been




Here are some examples:

I've been reading.
The car's been giving trouble.
We've been playing tennis for two hours.






How do we use the Present Perfect Continuous Tense?

This tense is called the present perfect continuous tense. There is usually a connection with the present or now. There are basically two uses for the present perfect continuous tense:

1. An action that has just stopped or recently stopped

We use the present perfect continuous tense to talk about an action that started in the past and stopped recently. There is usually a result now


I'm tired because I've been running.

I'm tired [now] because I've been running.
Why is the grass wet [now]? Has it been raining?
You don't understand [now] because you haven't been listening.


2. An action continuing up to now


We use the present perfect continuous tense to talk about an action that started in the past and is continuing now. This is often used with for or since.

I have been reading for 2 hours.

I have been reading for 2 hours. [I am still reading now.]
We've been studying since 9 o'clock. [We're still studying now.]
How long have you been learning English? [You are still learning now.]
We have not been smoking. [And we are not smoking now.]




For and Since with Present Perfect Continuous Tense


We often use for and since with the present perfect tense.

We use for to talk about a period of time—5 minutes, 2 weeks, 6 years.
We use since to talk about a point in past time—9 o'clock, 1st January, Monday.


Here are some examples:



I have been studying for 3 hours.
I have been watching TV since 7pm.
Tara hasn't been feeling well for 2 weeks.
Tara hasn't been visiting us since March.
He has been playing football for a long time.
He has been living in Bangkok since he left school.







to be continued (Past Simple Tense)
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Simple Past Tense



The simple past tense is sometimes called the preterite tense. We can use several tenses to talk about the past, but the simple past tense is the one we use most often.




How do we make the Simple Past Tense?

To make the simple past tense, we use:
  • past form only
or
  • auxiliary did + base form


Here you can see examples of the past form and base form for irregular verbs and regular verbs:


_________ V1 base _________V2 past __________ V3 past participle

regular _______ work __________ worked __________ Worked
verb _________ explode ________ exploded ________ exploded
______________ like ___________ liked ____________ liked


The past form for all regular verbs ends in -ed.


irregular _______ go __________ went _________ gone
verb __________ see _________ saw __________ seen
______________ sing _________ sang _________ sung


The past form for irregular verbs is variable. You need to learn it by heart.

You do not need the past participle form to make the simple past tense. It is shown here for completeness only.


Quote:
The structure for positive sentences in the simple past tense is:

subject + main verb (past form)
Quote:
The structure for negative sentences in the simple past tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb + not + main verb (base form)
Quote:
The structure for question sentences in the simple past tense is:

auxiliary verb + subject + main verb (base form)


The auxiliary verb did is not conjugated. It is the same for all persons (I did, you did, he did etc). And the base form and past form do not change. Look at these examples with the main verbs go and work:



subject _______ auxiliary verb _______ main verb

+ _____ I ____________________________ went to school.
______You ___________________________ worked very hard.
- _____She __________did not ______________go with me.
______ We __________did not ____________ work yesterday.
? ____Did you __________________________ go to London?
_____Did they __________________________ work at home?




Exception! The verb to be is different. We conjugate the verb to be (I was, you were, he/she/it was, we were, they were); and we do not use an auxiliary for negative and question sentences. To make a question, we exchange the subject and verb. Look at these examples:


subject ________ main verb

+ ___ I, he/she/it ______ was here.
_____ You, we, they ____ were in London.
- ___ I, he/she/it ________was not there.
_____You, we, they ______were not happy.
? ___ Was I, he/she/it ________ right?
_____Were you, we, they _____ late?






How do we use the Simple Past Tense?



We use the simple past tense to talk about an action or a situation—an event—in the past. The event can be short or long.

Here are some short events with the simple past tense:

The car exploded at 9.30am yesterday.
She went to the door.
We did not hear the telephone.
Did you see that car?



Here are some long events with the simple past tense:


I lived in Bangkok for 10 years.
The Jurassic period lasted about 62 million years.
We did not sing at the concert.
Did you watch TV last night?


Notice that it does not matter how long ago the event is: it can be a few minutes or seconds in the past, or millions of years in the past. Also it does not matter how long the event is. It can be a few milliseconds (car explosion) or millions of years (Jurassic period). We use the simple past tense when:


  • the event is in the past
  • the event is completely finished
  • we say (or understand) the time and/or place of the event


Quote:
In general, if we say the time or place of the event, we must use the simple past tense; we cannot use the present perfect.

Here are some more examples:


I lived in that house when I was young.
He didn't like the movie.
What did you eat for dinner?
John drove to London on Monday.
Mary did not go to work yesterday.
Did you play tennis last week?
I was at work yesterday.
We were not late (for the train).
Were you angry?



Note that when we tell a story, we usually use the simple past tense. We may use the past continuous tense to "set the scene", but we almost always use the simple past tense for the action. Look at this example of the beginning of a story:

"The wind was howling around the hotel and the rain was pouring down. It was cold. The door opened and James Bond entered. He took off his coat, which was very wet, and ordered a drink at the bar. He sat down in the corner of the lounge and quietly drank his..."





to be continued (Past Continous tense)
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Old Saturday, August 18, 2007
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Past Continuous Tense


The past continuous tense is an important tense in English. We use it to say what we were in the middle of doing at a particular moment in the past.



How do we make the Past Continuous Tense?


Quote:
The structure of the past continuous tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb BE (simple past) + main verb (ing form)

For negative sentences in the past continuous tense, we insert not between the auxiliary verb and main verb. For question sentences, we exchange the subject and auxiliary verb. Look at these example sentences with the past continuous tense:



subject ______ auxiliary verb _______ main verb

+ _____ I ___________ was ______________ watching TV.
+ ____You _________ were ______________ working hard.
- ___He, she, it ____ was not _____________ helping Mary.
- _____We ________ were not _______________ joking.
? ____Were you _________________________ being silly?
? ____Were they ______________________ playing football?





How do we use the Past Continuous Tense?


The past continuous tense expresses action at a particular moment in the past. The action started before that moment but has not finished at that moment. For example, yesterday I watched a film on TV. The film started at 7pm and finished at 9pm.



At 8pm yesterday, I was watching TV.
(At 8pm, I was in the middle of watching TV.)


When we use the past continuous tense, our listener usually knows or understands what time we are talking about. Look at these examples:


I was working at 10pm last night.
They were not playing football at 9am this morning.
What were you doing at 10pm last night?
What were you doing when he arrived?
She was cooking when I telephoned her.
We were having dinner when it started to rain.
Ram went home early because it was snowing.




We often use the past continuous tense to "set the scene" in stories. We use it to describe the background situation at the moment when the action begins. Often, the story starts with the past continuous tense and then moves into the simple past tense. Here is an example:

" James Bond was driving through town. It was raining. The wind was blowing hard. Nobody was walking in the streets. Suddenly, Bond saw the killer in a telephone box..."





Past Continuous Tense + Simple Past Tense



We often use the past continuous tense with the simple past tense. We use the past continuous tense to express a long action. And we use the simple past tense to express a short action that happens in the middle of the long action. We can join the two ideas with when or while.


In the following example, we have two actions:

1. long action (watching TV), expressed with past continuous tense
2. short action (telephoned), expressed with simple past tense



We can join these two actions with when:

I was watching TV when you telephoned.
(Notice that "when you telephoned" is also a way of defining the time [8pm].)



We use:

when + short action (simple past tense)
while + long action (past continuous tense)



There are four basic combinations:


I was walking past the car when it exploded
When the car exploded I was walking past it.
The car exploded while I was walking past it.
While I was walking past the car it exploded.



Notice that the long action and short action are relative.

"Watching TV" took a few hours. "Telephoned" took a few seconds.
"Walking past the car" took a few seconds. "Exploded" took a few milliseconds.









to be continued (Past Perfect Tense)
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Old Tuesday, August 21, 2007
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Past Perfect Tense


The past perfect tense is quite an easy tense to understand and to use. This tense talks about the "past in the past".


How do we make the Past Perfect Tense?


Quote:
The structure of the past perfect tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb HAVE + main verb (Past Participle or V3)
For negative sentences in the past perfect tense, we insert not between the auxiliary verb and main verb. For question sentences, we exchange the subject and auxiliary verb. Look at these example sentences with the past perfect tense:



subject _______ auxiliary verb _________ main verb

+ _____ I _____________ had _______________ finished my work.
+ _____You ___________ had _______________ stopped before me.
- _____She __________ had not ______________ gone to school.
- _____ We __________ had not _________________ left.
? ____ Had you _____________________________ arrived?
? ____ Had they ___________________________ eaten dinner?


When speaking with the past perfect tense, we often contract the subject and auxiliary verb:


I had ___ I'd
you had ___ you'd
he had ___ he'd
she had ___ she'd
it had ___ it'd
we had ___ we'd
they had ___ they'd



Quote:
The 'd contraction is also used for the auxiliary verb would. For example, we'd can mean:
We had
or

We would
But usually the main verb is in a different form, for example:
We had arrived (past participle)
We would arrive (base)
It is always clear from the context.





How do we use the Past Perfect Tense?

The past perfect tense expresses action in the past before another action in the past. This is the past in the past. For example:

  • The train left at 9am. We arrived at 9.15am. When we arrived, the train had left.

The train had left when we arrived.
(like Train leaves in past at 9am and We arrive in past at 9.15am.)


Look at some more examples:

I wasn't hungry. I had just eaten.
They were hungry. They had not eaten for five hours.
I didn't know who he was. I had never seen him before.
"Mary wasn't at home when I arrived."
"Really? Where had she gone?"


You can sometimes think of the past perfect tense like the present perfect tense, but instead of the time being now the time is past.



For example, imagine that you arrive at the station at 9.15am. The stationmaster says to you:

"You are too late. The train has left."

Later, you tell your friends:

"We were too late. The train had left."

We often use the past perfect tense in reported speech after verbs like said, told, asked, thought, wondered:


Look at these examples:

He told us that the train had left.
I thought I had met her before, but I was wrong.
He explained that he had closed the window because of the rain.
I wondered if I had been there before.
I asked them why they had not finished.









to be continued (Past Perfect Continous Tense)
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