Tenses are one of the fundamental building blocks in the English language and  indicate the time for the particular action. We all know that verbs are action words. However, tenses help us communicate WHEN those actions took place.   When writing a passage, it is critical that students use the right tense, are consistent in their use of tense and do not jump from one tense to another.

Verb Conjugation

Person:

In English, we have six different persons: first person singular (I), second person singular (you), third person singular (he/she/it/one), first person plural (we), second person plural (you), and third person plural (they). We must conjugate a verb for each person. The verb to be is a particularly notable verb for conjugation because it’s irregular.

Conjugation of the Irregular Verb to Be:

First Person Singular Second Person Singular Third Person Singular
I am you are he/she/it is
First Person Plural Second Person Plural Third Person Plural
we are you are they are

Tense:

Verbs are also conjugated according to their tenses. Verb tense indicates when the action in a sentence is happening (e.g., in the present, future, or past). Regular verbs follow a standard pattern when conjugated according to tense. Look at the examples below: Conjugation of the Regular Verb to Live (based on tense):

Simple Present Simple Past Simple Future
live lived will live
Present Continuous Past Continuous Future Continuous
am living was living will be living
Present Perfect Past Perfect Future Perfect
have lived had lived will have lived
Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Continuous Future Perfect Continuous
have been living had been living will have been living

Conjugation of the Regular Verb to Work (based on tense):

Simple Present Simple Past Simple Future
work worked will work
Present Continuous Past Continuous Future Continuous
am working was working will be working
Present Perfect Past Perfect Future Perfect
have worked had worked will have worked
Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Continuous Future Perfect Continuous
have been working had been working will have been working

Irregular verbs do not follow a standard pattern when conjugated according to verb tense. The following examples illustrate this point: Conjugation of the Irregular Verb to Eat (based on tense):

Simple Present Simple Past Simple Future
eat ate will eat
Present Continuous Past Continuous Future Continuous
am eating was eating will be eating
Present Perfect Past Perfect Future Perfect
have eaten had eaten will have eaten
Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Continuous Future Perfect Continuous
have been eating had been eating will have been eating

Conjugation of the Irregular Verb to Drink (based on tense):

Simple Present Simple Past Simple Future
drink drank will drink
Present Continuous Past Continuous Future Continuous
am drinking was drinking will be drinking
Present Perfect Past Perfect Future Perfect
have drunk had drunk will have drunk
Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Continuous Future Perfect Continuous
have been drinking had been drinking will have been drinking

Before we launch into learning tenses, it is important that we are familiar and thorough with the usage of the three verb forms:

Verb forms

There are up to five forms for each verb: root, third-person singular, present participle, past, and past participle.

Root Form of the Verb

The root form of a verb is the base form of the word. Roots have not been conjugated and do not include prefixes or suffixes.

The root form of the verb is the same as the infinitive form with “to” removed. See the examples below: to see – see

to be – be

to wear – wear

to go – go

The root form of a verb is used to create other forms of the verb when conjugated. This is always true with regular verbs, but may not apply with irregular verbs, depending on the tense. The examples below illustrate this concept.

I am going to school.

(Root: go)

What did you do yesterday?

(Root: do)

The girl showed her mother the picture she drew in school.

(Root: show)

He had eaten three hamburgers.

(Root: eat)

Third Person Singular Form of a Verb

The third person singular (he/she/it/one) conjugation is the verb form that tends to be different from other conjugations. For regular verbs, this verb form end in ‑s (or sometimes ‑es). Consider the examples below: he sees

she watches

it shrinks

one does

Present Participle Form of a Verb

The present participle verb form is created by adding -ing to the root word. It’s used in the past, present, and future progressive verb tenses. Look at the examples below:

We’re coming to the party tonight.

(come – coming)

They have been drawing for hours.

(draw – drawing)

We will be washing the car before vacation.

(wash – washing)

Past and Past Participle Forms of the Verb

The past and past participle verb form for regular verbs is the root word + ‑ed. It’s only used with the past tenses. Consider the examples below:

We shopped for hours on Saturday afternoon.

(shop – shopped)

The books were stacked on the shelf.

(stack – stacked)

He had played computer games for the whole weekend.

(play – played)

The past participle can be difficult to determine for some irregular verbs. It’s best to look these up in a dictionary if you’re at all unsure of the past participle. Here are a few examples of irregular verbs:

Root Simple Past Past Participle
Sing Sang Sung
See Saw Seen
Fall Fell Fallen
Give Gave Given
Go Went Gone
I had forgiven him for his unkind words.
Simon had lit candles all around the room.
Root (Verb) Simple Past Past Participle
Sing Sang Sung
See Saw Seen
Fall Fell Fallen
Give Gave Given
Go Went Gone

 

Verb(V1) Past(v2) Past Participle(v3)
Break Broke Broken
Begin Began Begun
Choose Chose Chosen
Bite bit Bitten

It is important that verbs are used properly in all these forms before we understand how they are used in a sentence with the proper ‘tense’ structure.

So how do you show your children the difference in the sentence structure in these three tenses? The following chart will help:

  PAST TENSE PRESENT TENSE FUTURE TENSE
Definition An action that has taken place already An action that is currently happening An action that is expected to happen in the future
Structure Subject +Verb+ ‘ed’ + Rest of sentence Subject + is/are + verb + ing + rest of sentence Subject +will +verb+ Rest of sentence
Example The dog + jump + ed + onto the bed. The dog + is + jump + ing + onto the bed The dog will jump onto the bed.
The dog jumped onto the bed The dog is jumping onto the bed The dog will jump on to the bed

There are totally 12 tenses.  It is basically the three tenses in four possible combinations.

  1st 2nd` 3rd 4th
Present Simple Continuous Perfect Perfect Continuous
Past Simple Continuous Perfect Perfect Continuous
Future Simple Continuous Perfect Perfect Continuous
 

 

Simple is also called as indefinite. Continuous is also called as Progressive. Perfect is also called as Simple Perfect and Perfect Continuous is also called as Perfect Progressive.

Since Math, is similar to grammar in its precision, it is best to represent the structure of grammar through a table:

PRESENT TENSE

  SIMPLE PRESENT CONTINUOUS PERFECT PERFECT CONTINUOUS
When should you use it? Action is regular or habitual, a fact or general truth like ‘The sun rises in the east’ Action is happening at the moment Action just ended Action has been going on for sometime
Verb form  V1-Present tense of verb, like walk, take, see V1 + am/is/are + ing V3 + have /has V1+ have/has+been +’ing’
Examples I take, You take, she takes, he takes.I usually wake up at 6am. I am taking
I am waiting for the bus.
I have taken
You have takenIt has taken
I have already written the letter
He/She/It has been taking.
She has been living here for a year

 

PAST TENSE

  SIMPLE PRESENT CONTINUOUS PERFECT PERFECT CONTINUOUS
When should you use it? Action has taken place in the past Action going on in the past Action took place before another action Action lasted for some time before another action.
Verb form V2- Past tense of verb. V1+ was or were + ing V3+ had V1+ had been +ing
Example I/she/he   took
They took
I watched a movie yesterday
I/she was taking
He was walking in the park.
I/We had takenWhen I came, he had finished his work You/she/It had been taking.
‘When I returned, he had been working for 2 hrs.’

 

FUTURE TENSE

  SIMPLE PRESENT CONTINUOUS PERFECT PERFECT CONTINUOUS
When should you use it? Action will take place in the future Action will be going on in the future Action will take place before another action Action will last for some time before another action
Verb form V1+ Will or shall V1+’will be’ or ‘shall be’ +ing V3+ will have or shall have V1+ will or shall+ have been+ing
Example I/We/you/They will take
I will meet him next week
I/She will be taking
He will be reading a book when I return
She will have taken.
She will have prepared the food before I return
I will have been taking
By the time I return, she will have been waiting for 2 hrs. 

It may seem complicated at first, but once you read a book with your child and point out the tenses as you go along, it comes more naturally and effortlessly. You can print practice work sheets on the internet. This will help your child practice the tenses so that they are internalized better and applied easily. Even grammar experts sometimes argue over the finer nuances of the English language, so if your child makes a few mistakes, don’t get ‘tensed’. As with everything, it will definitely only get better with constant exposure and practice.

 

References :

grammarly.com

playablo.com

 

 

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