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The tenses in ENGLISH - their function + how and when to use them + examples

 
08-21-2009, 01:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Wink The tenses in ENGLISH - their function + how and when to use them + examples




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The Tenses and Their Main Meanings
(These are only the main meanings; for more complete
information, see the section on each tense.)


Past Tenses
Simple Past
Main Meaning
This action ended in the past.
John did his homework last night.
Note: Simple past is correct for most actions in the past. There are only a
few times when we absolutely need to use other past tenses.

Past Progressive
Main Meaning
This action happened over time in the past.
Most common use: to show this action was happening over time when something happened.
John was doing his homework when the earthquake started.


Past Perfect
Main Meaning
We use past perfect when we want to make it clear that this action happened before something in the past.
Norton had eaten breakfast when he left for work. (This means Norton ate
breakfast before he went to work.)
Note: If its already clear which happened first, simple past is also okay.

Past Perfect Progressive
Main Meaning
We use past perfect progressive when we want to make it clear that this action was happening over time before something in the past.
The kitchen smelled wonderful because Norton had been ng dinner.





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The Tenses and Their Main Meanings
Present Tenses
Simple Present
Main Meanings
This action is a habit or repeated now. I usually drive to school.
This is a fact thats always (or almost always) true. Wood floats in water.

Present Progressive
Main Meanings
This action is happening right now.
You are reading this sentence.
This action isnt finished, but might not be happening right now.
John is studying English this semester, but he isnt studying right now; hes
eating dinner.
Note: Dont use present progressive with stative verbs.

Present Perfect
Main Meanings
With a length of time, present perfect usually means this action started in the past and has continued until now.
Ralphs a bus driver. He has worked as a bus driver for 10 years.
Note: Present Perfect Progressive can often be used to say the same thing
(but not with stative verbs).
With no time phrase, present perfect usually means the action ended in the past, but the time is not clear.
Ralph isnt hungry because he has eaten dinner.
Note: In American English, simple past can usually be used to say the same
thing.

Present Perfect Progressive
Main Meaning
This action started in the past and has continued until now.
Ralphs a bus driver. He has been working as a bus driver for 10 years. Note: Dont use present perfect progressive with stative verbs.





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The Tenses and Their Main Meanings
Future Tenses
Future Tense
Main Meaning
This action will happen in the future.
Ralph and Norton will play cards tomorrow night.
Note: Future tense is correct for most actions in the future. There are only a
few times when I absolutely need to use other future tenses.

Future Progressive
Main Meaning
This action will happen over time in the future.
Most common use: to show this action will be happening over time when something happens.
Ill start to study at 7:00, so Ill be studying when you arrive at 7:`10.

Future Perfect
Main Meaning
We use future perfect when we want to make it clear that this action will happen before something in the future.
Martha will have finished her homework when she comes to class tomorrow.
Note: If its already clear which action will happen first, future tense is also
okay.

Future Perfect Progressive
Main Meaning
This action will happen over time before something in the future
When I retire, I will have been teaching for over forty years.
Note: Future perfect progressive is a pretty rare tense; we dont use it very
much.


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08-21-2009, 02:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Which Verb Tense Should I Use?
A Very Rough Guide


Actions in the Past

For most actions in the past:
simple past
I ate breakfast at 7:00 this morning before I went to work. Im a little tired today because I went to bed late.

When I need to make it clear that this action was in progress when something happened:
past progressive
I was taking a bath when you called, so I couldnt answer the phone.

When I want to show that an action started in the past and has continued until now:
present perfect progressive (for most verbs)
I have been teaching at Chabot for fourteen years.
John has been thinking about buying a new car.
OR
present perfect + a length of time (for stative verbs)
George Bush Sr. has hated broccoli since he was a child.


When I want to show that an action happened before something in the past: past perfect
At 5:00, Fred had finished work for the day. (This means that Fred finished
work before 5:00.)
(NOTE: We can say, At 5:00, Fred finished work for the day, but this sentence
has a different meaning. It means that Fred finished work at 5:00, not
before.)





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Which Verb Tense Should I Use?

When I need to make it clear that this action was happening over time before another action (or a time) in the past:
past perfect progressive (for most verbs)
Barney had been studying for six hours when he fell asleep at his desk.
OR
past perfect + a length of time (for stative verbs)
Ralph had loved Alice for many years before he asked her to marry him.


For actions that have never happened in someones life: present perfect
Ive never seen a flying elephant.


For questions asking if someone has ever done something in their life: present perfect
Have you seen the Grand Canyon?

For repeated actions that might happen again:
present perfect
Hoku has seen that movie eight times.





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08-21-2009, 02:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Actions in the Present

For a present habit:
simple present
I dont drive to work; I usually take BART.


For something that is always or usually true: simple present
Wood floats on water.
Rocks dont float. They sink.


For an action happening right now:
present progressive (for most verbs)
Norton isnt home now. Hes studying at the library.
OR
simple present (for stative verbs only)
Right now, I understand my calculus homework, but tomorrow I may be confused again.


For an action that isnt finished yet:
present progressive (for most verbs)
Martin is working at the library this semester, but he isnt there now because
todays Sunday and librarys closed.





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Which Verb Tense Should I Use?
Actions in the Future

For predictions (things we think will happen): future tense
Freds plane will arrive at 8:00.
Freds plane is going to arrive at 8:00.


For actions that will be happening over time when something happens: future progressive
When Lucys plane arrives tomorrow, Ricky will be waiting for her at the airport.

For future plans:
be going to
Ralph and Alice are going to visit Yosemite National Park next month.

For time clauses and if-clauses in the future:
simple present (almost always)
When Ralph gets home tomorrow night, hes going to take Alice out to dinner. If Yoko buys a car next Friday, shell drive it to school on Monday.

When I need to make it clear that this action will be finished before something in the future:
future perfect
The train always leaves at 12:00. If you get to the station at 12:05, the train will have already left.

When I need to make it clear that this action will happen over time before something in the future:
future perfect progressive (for most verbs)
Next September, I will have been working at Chabot for 10 years.
OR
future perfect + a length of time (for stative verbs)
At its anniversary in 2011, Chabot College will have existed for fifty years.



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08-21-2009, 02:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Simple Present
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Simple Present

1. What does simple present tense mean?
Usually, simple present tense means
1) that the action is a habit (or another type of repeated action) in
the present
or
2) that the action is always or usually true.

Examples:
I usually eat lunch at the school cafeteria. (This is a habit in the present.)
What time do you usually feed your pet dinosaur? (Im asking about a
habit in the present.)
Ralph and Norton sometimes go bowling on Thursday nights. (This is a
habit in the present.)
George usually doesnt buy bananas at Albertsons. (This is a habit in the
present.)
Wally never comes late to class. (This is a habit in the present.)
The moon travels around the earth. (This is always or usually true.)
Wilma makes good gravelberry pies. (This is always or usually true.)
Does the sun rise in the east or in the west? (I want to know if this is
always or usually true.)
Government officials often dont tell the truth. (This statement is usually
true.)
Simple present can also have other uses. You can find these in the
More Stuff You Should Know about Simple Present section on p20.





18
Basic Stuff about Simple Present
2. How do I make simple present?
Statements
1. If the subject is I, you, we, or they, use the simple form of the verb. Examples:
I go to bed at 11:00.
You go to bed at 11:00.
We go to bed at 11:00.
George and Gracie (they) go to bed at 11:00. I usually walk to the store.
2. If the subject is he, she, or it, add -s or -es to the simple form of the
verb.
Examples:
Ralph (he) goes to bed at 11:00.
Alice (she) goes to bed at 11:00.
Carmens pet elephant (it) goes to bed at 11:00. Ahmed usually walks to the store.
Negative Statements
do/does + not + simple form.
Examples:
Americans usually do not eat soup for breakfast. I usually dont buy lunch on Thursdays.
John does not play tennis.
Ralph often doesnt drive to work.

Questions1
(Question word) + do + subject + simple form Examples:
Does your pet gorilla bite?
Do you buy your groceries at Alberstons?
What do Norton and Trixie usually do on weekends? Where does Alice buy her groceries?


1 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the
Subject on p142.





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Basic Stuff about Simple Present
Why do leaves turn brown in the autumn? When does Ward eat dinner?





20
More Stuff...about Simple Present
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Simple
Present

1. The verb be
The verb be in English is just plain weird. It almost never follows the same rules as other verbs. For the verb be,
simple present statements,
negative statements, and
questions
are all formed in unusual ways. Although you probably learned the information below in one of your very first English lessons, here it is again for the sake of
completeness.
Simple Present Statements with Be
If the subject is I, use am.
Examples:
I am a teacher.
Im often absent-minded.
I am in class every Wednesday at 10:00.


If the subject is you, we, or they, use are Examples:
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine (from an old song). Were so happy that you didnt eat our cat!
Fred and Ethyl are in the kitchen with Lucy and Ricky.

If the subject is a he, she, or it, use is.
Examples:
Arnold Schwarzenegger (he) is the governor of California. (This sentence
was true in 2005, when this guide was written. California may have
a new governor by the time you read this.)
Paris Hiltons rich. She isnt an English teacher.





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More Stuff...about Simple Present
My car (it) is in the parking lot at beautiful Chabot College.

Simple Present Negative Statements with Be Add not after be.
Examples:
I am not a millionaire or a rock star. Im not rich or famous.
Im probably not in Paris Hiltons address book.
You are not my boss, so stop telling me what to do. Bats arent birds.
Were not in Kansas any more.
George W. Bush is not my uncle.
A wet cat isnt very happy.
Its not cold; you dont need to wear a coat.


Simple present questions with Be2
Put be in front of the subject
Examples:
Am I taller than your cousin in Utah? Are George and Gracie married? Where are my car keys?
Why is the sky blue?


2. Stative verbs use simple present, not present progressive.
Some verbs, such as want, understand, and know, dont use present
progressive; instead, they usually use simple present even if the action is
happening right now. This point is explained more on p29 in More Stuff...about Present Progressive.


2 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the
Subject on p142.





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More Stuff...about Simple Present
3. Simple present in future time clauses and if-clauses
Time clauses and if-clauses in the future do not use future tense; instead, they use one of the present tenses, usually simple present.
Examples:
After I will go go to the store tomorrow, Ill give you a call.
Before Trixie will leave leaves for school next Tuesday, shes going to do
her English homework.
When Mohammed will get gets home tonight, he will cook dinner and then
help his kids with their homework.
If John will find finds a new job, hes going to have a party.
Ill be at the library tonight if you will need need to find me.
This point is explained a little more in More Stuff...about Future Tense on pp63 & 64.
We can use some other present tenses, like present progressive or present perfect in future time clauses and if-clauses; however, these usually arent
necessary. You can find them explained in the Extra Stuff about Future Tense section on pp70 & 71.

4. Scheduled events in the future
If you want to, you can use simple present for future scheduled events such
as plane arrivals & departures, classes, and so on. You cant do this for most
future actions; you can only do it for actions that are scheduled. Its not necessary
to use simple present for scheduled events; the future tense is also okay.
Examples:
My class will start tomorrow morning at 9:00. My class starts tomorrow morning at 9:00. (Both sentences mean the same thing.)
Johns plane is going to arrive tonight at 10:00. Johns plane arrives tonight at 10:00.
(Both sentences mean the same thing.)





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More Stuff...about Simple Present
The BART train to Richmond will arrive in five minutes. The BART train to Richmond arrives in five minutes. (Both sentences mean the same thing.)
My brother calls will call me sometime tomorrow. (I cant use simple
present in this sentence because this action isnt scheduled.)


5. Simple present when discussing literature
In academic situations, especially when writing papers, its traditional to use simple present as the main tense to tell the story of a work of fiction like a novel, a play, or a short story, even if the work itself is written in the past tense.
Example:
Romeo and Juliet tells the tragic story of two young lovers.
Two families in the town of Verona, the Capulets and the Montagues,
hate one another. Romeo is the son of the Montague family and
Juliet is the daughter of the Capulets. Romeo and Juliet meet at a
party, fall in love, and secretly make plans to get married.
Soon after the young couple marry, Juliets cousin, Tybalt, kills Romeos closest friend. Romeo, in a blind rage, kills Tybalt. This starts a series of events that ends in the two lovers deaths.
There are also other tenses that we can use together with simple present to make the order of events clearer. You can read more about these in Extra Stuff about Simple Present on p24.





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Extra Stuff about Simple Present
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Simple Present (You May Not
Need to Know This)

1. More about simple present when discussing literature
Normally, we use simple present to summarize a work of fiction, but there are other tenses that we can use together with simple present to make the order of events clearer.
We can use
present perfect tenses to show that an action began before the time were
discussing and
future tenses to show that an action will happen after the time were
discussing.
Examples:
In the fairy tale The Little Mermaid, a handsome prince falls in love with
a mermaid who has given her voice to a witch for a pair of legs.
(Present perfect makes it clear that the mermaid traded her voice
before the prince fell in love with her.)
When Romeo and Juliet meet, their families have hated one another for
many years, and recently they have been openly fighting in the
streets of the city. (Both these actions start before the time were
discussing and have continued until that time. We can show this by using present perfect + a length of time or present perfect
progressive. For more about using these tenses see More
Stuff...about Meaning #1 on p86.
Tybalts death starts a series of events that will end in the two lovers
deaths. (The events will end later in the story, and we can emphasize this by using future tense.)
If we tell the events of a story in the order they happen, from beginning to
end, then present perfect or future tenses arent necessary; simple present will
work. However, if the order of events isnt already clear, we can use the other
tenses so show the reader which actions happened earlier and which actions will
happen later.





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Extra Stuff about Simple Present
2. Simple present when telling a story
When Americans are telling a story about something that happened in the past, youll often hear them start to use simple present as the basic tense. Other tenses can be used in the same way we use them to discuss literature (point #1
above). Because its informal and because Americans dont do this consciously, Americans will often switch back and forth between simple present and past tenses when they use simple present this way.
Heres an example of how Americans use simple present in this way:
Ralph: Hey, Norton! How did you get that dent in your fender?
Norton: Well, I was driving to the store to get some bananas, okay?
(Notice that Norton starts his story in the past.) I get off the freeway
(Here Norton switches to simple present.) and Im coming down
Hesperian when this guy in red SUV pulls into my lane without
looking and dents my fender. We both pull over and hes very
apologetic. He tells me that he was talking (Here Norton has
switched back to past tenses.) on his cell phone and wasnt paying
attention to the road.
Americans talk like this when theyre speaking informally, but its not standard English. You never need to use simple present this way; in fact, if youre speaking in a formal situation or if youre writing, you should probably avoid it. Still, youll hear Americans do this a lot.

3. Time clauses used with simple present main clauses
If the main clause of a sentence uses simple present tense, then a time clause in that sentence will usually use simple present too.
Example:
After George brushes his teeth each morning, he goes to the kitchen and
starts the coffee.
However, if the action in the time clause happens first, we can also use present perfect:
Example:
After George has brushed his teeth each morning, he goes to the kitchen





26
Extra Stuff about Simple Present
and starts the coffee. (This means the same thing as the first
sentence.)
Heres another example:
Every evening after he cooks dinner, Ralph washes the pots and pans.
Every evening after he has d dinner, Ralph washes the pots and pans. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
So far as I can tell, in this type of time clause (present habit / the action in the time clause happens first), both simple present and present perfect are always correct, so you never really need to use present perfect here. If youd like to read more about present perfect in time clauses, check out Some Final Points about the Present Perfect on p113.





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Basic Stuff about Present Progressive
Present Progressive

Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Present Progressive

1. What does present progressive mean?
Usually, present progressive tense means
1) the action is happening right now
or (more generally)
2) the action is unfinished and still continuing.
Examples:
Youre reading a booklet about verb tenses. (This action is happening
right now.)
John isnt in class. Hes taking care of his son, whos sick today.
(This action is happening right now.)
Is Norton doing his homework? (I want to know if this action is happening
right now.)
This is my friend Joe. Hes writing a book titled Who Moved
My Chicken Soup from Venus? (The action of writing is unfinished and still continuing, so I use present progressive even if Joe is not writing right now.)
Where is Ralph studying English this semester? (This action is unfinished
and still continuing, so I use present progressive even if Ralph is not
studying right now.)
Present progressive can have other meanings and uses. You can find out about them in More Stuff...about Present Progressive.





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Basic Stuff about Present Progressive
2. How do I make present progressive?
Statements
am/is/are + verb-ing
Examples:
I am writing this book on the computer in my living room. We are studying verb tenses.
Norton is learning to drive.
Negative Statements
am/is/are + not + verb-ing
Examples:
John isnt watching TV; hes playing with his dog. Trixie and Norton arent eating dinner now.
You are not reading a book about elephants; this is a book about
verb tenses.
Im not writing this book in the bathtub. Im writing it on my
computer.
Questions3
(question word) + am/is/are + subject + verb-ing Examples:
Is John eating dinner now?
Are you taking a math course this semester? Where is Alice studying?
Why are you looking at me?









3 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the
Subject on p142.





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More Stuff...about Present Progressive
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Present
Progressive
1. Stative verbs usually dont use present progressive
Some verbs such as want, understand, and know dont usually use present progressive (or other progressive tenses); instead, they use simple present even if the action is happening right now. These verbs have several different names: stative verbs, non-action verbs, nonprogressive verbs, or noncontinuous verbs; all these names mean the same thing.
Examples of stative verbs:
Right now, I am wanting want to go home. (We usually cant use stative
verbs in progressive tenses.)
Ah! Now I am understanding understand what you mean. (We usually
cant use stative verbs in progressive tenses.)
My mother isnt liking doesnt like George W. Bush. (We usually cant
use stative verbs in progressive tenses.)
I didnt know Norton last year, but now I am knowing know him well.
(We usually cant use stative verbs in progressive tenses.)
Some Common Stative Verbs
agree doubt love remember
amaze envy look* resemble
appreciate equal matter see*
be* exist mean seem
believe fear mind* smell*
belong feel* need sound
care* forget owe taste*
concern hate own think*
consist have* please understand
contain hear possess want
dislike know prefer wish
disagree like recognize weigh*
Youll notice that some of these verbs are marked with asterisk (*). These





30
More Stuff...about Present Progressive
are stative verbs which are also often used as active verbs (verbs that use simple
present and present progressive the same way that most verbs do). Ill explain the
two of the most common ones (think and have) in point #2 below. I explain a
few more stative verbs in point Extra Stuff about Present Progressive on p34..

2. Two very common stative verbs that are sometimes progressive: think and have
A. Think
Stative meaning of think
Sometimes think means the same as believe. When we use think this way, its stative.
Examples:
Maria thinks (believes) that English is difficult to learn.
I think (believe) that the movie starts at 7:00, but Im not sure. Do you think (believe) its going to rain?
Active meanings of think
When think doesnt mean believe, its just an action verb. It uses present
progressive and simple present the same way that most verbs do.
Examples:
Right now, youre thinking about verb tenses, right?
Ralph is thinking about buying a new bowling ball.
Would you please turn down the TV? Im thinking.

B. Have
The verb have has A LOT of different meanings and uses in English. Some of these meanings are stative, and some not. Here are some guidelines to help you figure out when have is stative and when it isnt.
Stative meaning of have
Most of the time, have means about the same as own or possess. When we use have in this way, its stative.





31
More Stuff...about Present Progressive
Examples:
Minnie Mouse has a boyfriend named Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse has big ears and a friendly smile.
Mickey and Minnie have a dog named Pluto.
Mickeys sick today. He has the flu. (In English, diseases are something
that we own. We can have diseases, and we can also give diseases to
other people.)
Mickey has a job on a steamboat. (In English, we also think of jobs as
something we own or possess. We can also lose our jobs or give
them to someone.)
Minnie is drinking a second cup of coffee because she has ten more
minutes before she needs to leave for work. (In English, we often
think that we can possess time. We can also give time to other people.)

Active meanings of have
Sometimes we use have to show other meanings (not possession). When we use it this way, its almost always an active verb. It uses present progressive and simple present the same way that most verbs do.
Examples:
Mickey and Minnie are having a party! (Having a party means the same
as giving a party or throwing a party.)
Right now, everyone is having cake and ice cream. (Having cake and ice
cream means the same as eating cake and ice cream. Have can mean
eat or drink.)
Everyones having a wonderful time! (Having a wonderful / good
/ lovely / fun / bad / difficult / terrible, etc. time is a common
expression in English. In this expression, have is an action verb, not a stative verb.
A Note about Possession in English
You might be wondering, Wait! How can I know for sure when have
shows possession and when it doesnt? Why do English speakers think that they can possess a disease but they cant possess a party? And why can English
speakers possess amounts of time, but they cant possess a wonderful time? Who made these crazy rules, anyway?





32
More Stuff...about Present Progressive
I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that English
probably has ideas about possession that are different from the ones in your native
language. Thats the bad news. If you use the rules of your native language when
you speak English, youll probably make some mistakes. Some languages (like
Spanish and French) are pretty similar to English in their ideas about possession.
Other languages, like Japanese and Vietnamese, have a lot more differences. But
so far as I know, no language thinks about possession in exactly the same way.
Heres the good news. The examples above can show you some of the
more common times that have shows possession, and if you want a really
complete and painstaking explanation of the different meanings of have, the
Longman Advanced American Dictionary (or another good ESL dictionary) is a good place to look.
After a while, youll develop an intuition for when have means possession
and when it doesnt. It will help develop this intuition if you listen carefully
when youre talking to English speakers and pay attention to the way have is used
when you read. Another point to remember: Have is usually stative. If youre
not sure and you have to guess, its usually safer to use it statively.
And by the way, the British made these rules. You can blame them. 8-)

One more important time we use have.
In English, we make perfect tenses using have + past participle. When we use have to show that a tense is perfect, then it isnt doesnt have a stative
meaning and it doesnt have an action meaning. It means that this verb is in one of the perfect tenses.


4. We can use present progressive for future plans
If we want to, we can use present progressive for plans in the future. It cant be used for all future actions; it can only be used for plans.
Examples:
Fred and Ethyl are going to have a party next Friday.
Fred and Ethyl are having a party next Friday.
(Both sentences mean the same thing; they show a future plan.)





33
More Stuff...about Present Progressive
Im going to go to Hawaii next summer. Im going to Hawaii next summer.
(Both sentences mean the same thing; they show a future plan.)
Ricky and Lucy will get married in July.
Ricky and Lucy are getting married in July.
(Both sentences mean the same thing; they show a future plan.)
BUT
I think it is raining will rain tomorrow. (Rain is not something that
we can plan, so we cant use present progressive.)





34
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive (You May
Not Need to Know This)


1. More stative verbs that are sometimes progressive
A. Be
Stative meaning of be
Be is stative nearly all of the time. When be is stative, it shows that
someone (or something) has a characteristic or a quality.
Examples:
Norton is stubborn. He usually doesnt change his mind.
Moe is rude. He almost never thinks about the way other people feel. Jack is friendly. He almost always has a smile for everyone.
Bill is a dad. He has three kids.
Im really happy today!
Ralph and Trixie are sick, so theyre staying home today.
Active meaning of be
If were talking about the way that someone is acting, then we use be in
present progressive (or another progressive tense) to show this.
Examples:
Ralphs being stubborn. He knows that hes wrong, but he wont
apologize to Alice for forgetting her birthday. (When I say Ralph
is being stubborn, I mean that he is acting stubborn now because
he wont apologize. This sentence doesnt tell us how he is usually; maybe hes usually stubborn and maybe he isnt.)
Homers eating all the food at the party! Hes being really rude and
thoughtless. (When I say Homer is being rude, I mean that he is
acting rude now. This sentence doesnt tell us how he is usually;
maybe hes usually rude and maybe he isnt.)
Bill is being really friendly towards Laura, but she knows he only wants to
borrow her car. (When I say Bill is being friendly, it means that Bill
is acting friendly now, but maybe he isnt really friendly.)





35
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
Bill used to be wild and crazy when he was young, but now that he has
teenage children, hes really strict. Im not surprised by his
change in attitude; Bill is simply being a dad. (When I say Bills
being a dad, it means that Bill is acting like a dad; in this sentence, Im not saying that he is a dad, even though this is true.)

B. FEEL
Feel has a lot of meanings in English, some of which are stative and some of which arent. Here are some of the more common ones.
Stative Meanings of Feel
When we use feel as a linking verb to talk about the tactile characteristics of
an object, its stative. (If youre sitting there thinking, What the heck are tactile
characteristics? heres a simpler (but a little less accurate) rule: If the subject is a thing, then feel is almost always stative.
Examples:
This blanket feels really soft.
This piece of wood feels rough now, but after we sand it will be as
smooth as glass.
Fred hasnt shaved today. His face feels like sandpaper.

When feel means about the same as believe, its stative. Examples:
I feel (believe) that youre making a big mistake, George.
The Dalai Lama feels (believes) that compassion and kindness are the
essence of religion.
A Meaning of Feel That Can Be Either Stative or Active
When we use feel to talk about someones health or mood, then we can use it as a stative verb or an active verb. Both are okay.
Examples:
I feel sick; I need to go home.
Im feeling sick; I need to go home.
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)





36
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
Elmer feels light headed and happy; hes in love.
Elmer is feeling light headed and happy; hes in love. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Active Meaning of Feel
When we use feel to mean about the same as touch, then its an action verb.
It uses present progressive and simple present the same way that most verbs do.
Examples:
Barney is feeling (touching) the water in the swimming pool with his
toe.
George: Why are you feeling (touching) that melon?
Laura: Im feeling (touching) it to see if its ripe.


C. LOOK
Stative Meanings of Look
When we use look to mean about the same as seem or appear, then its usually stative.
Examples:
That house looks (appears) empty.
My dog looks (appears) ugly, but he has a heart of gold.

When we use look like to mean about the same as resemble, then look is a stative verb .
Examples:
Do you think that I look like (resemble) Tom Cruise?
Whales look like (resemble) big fish, but they arent really fish. Theyre
mammals.

A Meaning of Look That Be Either Stative or Active
When we use look to talk about someones health or mood, then we can use it as a stative verb or an active verb.
Examples:
John looks sick. Maybe he should go home now.





37
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
John is looking sick. Maybe he should go home now. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
You look really happy. Whats up?
Youre looking really happy. Whats up?
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Active Meanings of Look
Look can have a lot of other meanings and uses. So far as I can tell, in all of the other meanings, look is an active verb. It uses present progressive and
simple present the same way that most verbs do.
Examples:
John is looking at his watch. Maybe its time to go home.
Im looking over a four-leaf clover. (from an old song)
Norton is looking forward to his next vacation. Dont worry. Im looking out for you.
Clark is looking for his keys.

D. SEE
Stative Meanings of See
See is usually stative. It has so many meanings that I cant explain them all, but here are some common meanings of see:
When we are talking about using our eyes, see is stative. Examples:
AAAHHH! I see a ghost! (Im using my eyes.)
I dont see John now. He probably went home. (Im using my eyes.)

Also, when see means about the same as understand, its stative. Examples:
Does Ralph see (understand) why Alice is mad? Do you see (understand) what I mean?

Active Meanings of See
When see means about the same as meet with, then its an active verb. It
uses present progressive and simple present the same way that most verbs do.
Examples:





38
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
The doctors busy now. Hes seeing (meeting with) a patient.
Im seeing (meeting with) my brother in an hour, but I can talk to you
now.

E. SMELL
Stative meaning of smell
When we use smell to talk about the olfactory characteristics of an object,
then its a stative verb. Again, if youre wondering What in heavens name are
olfactory characteristics?! then heres the simpler (but less accurate) rule: When
the subject is a thing, then smell is stative.
Examples:
That bean soup smells delicious!
Melvin, your socks smell terrible! Take them off and put them in the
laundry right now!
Marys perfume smells like roses.
If your refrigerator smells, you should put in a box of baking soda. The
baking soda will absorb the odors.
I smell like oil and gasoline because I just finished working on my car. I
need to take a shower. (Do you remember that I said the simple
rule isnt 100% accurate? This example doesnt follow the simple
rule because the subject is not a thing. Can you see why this
sentence is okay even though it doesnt follow the simple rule?)
Active meaning of smell
When were talking about someone (or an animal) that is using their nose, then smell is an active verb. It uses present progressive and simple present the same way that most verbs do.
Examples:
Trixie: Norton, why are you smelling that t-shirt?
Norton: Im smelling it to find out if its clean.

F. TASTE
Stative Meaning of Taste
If were talking about the gustatory characteristics of an object, then taste is
stative. If that rule is a little confusing, heres a much simpler (but a little less





39
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
precise) rule: If the subject is food, then taste is stative. Examples:
This milk tastes sour! We should throw it out.
The food at Taco Bell tastes okay, but it doesnt taste like real Mexican
food.
Cannibal: Wow! This missionary tastes great! (Here, the missionary is
food.)
Norton: Hey Ralph, what do chocolate-covered grasshoppers taste like? Ralph: I dont know, Norton. Ive never eaten chocolate-covered
grasshoppers.

Active Meaning of Taste
When were talking about someone (or an animal) that is using their tongue to get information, then taste is an active verb. It uses present progressive and simple present the same way that most verbs do.
Examples:
The cook is tasting the soup to make sure its okay.
Ralph: Norton! Stop eating my sandwich!
Norton: Whoa! Calm down, Ralphie-boy! Im not eating your
sandwich! Im just tasting it!

G. WEIGH
Stative meaning of weigh
When we tell how much someone or something weighs, weigh is stative. Examples:
My cat weighs six pounds.
I weigh 150 pounds.
Wow! Your book bag weighs a lot!
Mary weighs less than she did last year.
Active meanings of weigh
So far as I can tell, weigh is an active verb in all its other meanings. It
uses present progressive and simple present the same way that most verbs do.





40
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
Examples:
The grocer is weighing some apples.
Ralph is weighing himself in the bathroom.
Norton is calling a talk radio program. Hes weighing in on the topic of
sewer renovation.
I feel sad. All these worries are weighing me down.
Im weighing my alternatives. Maybe Ill buy a Honda, or maybe Ill buy
a Volvo.

A final note about stative verbs that can be used progressively
In addition to the exceptions Ive explained here, there are many more
small exceptions to the general rules for using stative and active verbs. I wish I could give you a single, clear rule, but I dont think that one exists. This is just one of those points in English that you will learn by a lot of listening, reading, and practicing. Again, blame the British. 8-)

2. We use present progressive with simple present to show This action happens over time.
Usually present progressive shows that an action is happening right now, but it can also be used with simple present to show that an action happens over time when the other action happens. That sounds a little obtuse, so lets look at some examples which might help make it clearer.
Example #1:
Every day when Alicia gets home, her roommate is studying English.

In this sentence, is studying (present progressive) doesnt mean that the action is happening right now. It means that the action is happening over time everyday when Alicia gets home. In other words, the roommate starts to study before Alicia gets home, and the roommate is still studying when Alicia arrives. This is very similar to the way we usually use past progressive (see More
Stuff...about Past Progressive on p51).
Note: We also use present progressive this way in future time clauses (see p70) and future if-clauses (see p65).





41
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive


If I use simple present instead of present progressive in this case, the meaning is different.
Example #2:
Every day when Alicia gets home, her roommate studies English.
In this sentence, Alicias roommate always starts to study at about the same time (and a little bit after) Alicia gets home. This is different from Example #1, in which the roommate always starts studying before Alicia arrives.


The one exception I can think of is the verb be. When we use be in this type of sentence, it can have two meanings:
*it can mean the same thing as if we used present progressive: that the
action started before the time were talking about and has
continued until that time.
Example:
Every day when Alicia gets home, her roommate is in the kitchen. (This means that the roommate went into the kitchen before Alicia got home.)

or
*it can mean that the action happened shortly after the other action (like most verbs).
Example:
Every day when Alicia gets home, her roommate is really happy to see her. (This sentence means that the roommate became happy at about the same time (and a little bit after) Alicia got home.)

So, youre probably wondering, How do I know when be has the first
meaning and when it has the second meaning? As far as I can tell, the only way to know is context. You just have to look at the situation and guess what the
speaker means.





42
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
4. Present progressive (and other progressive tenses) can be used for temporary habits
Present progressive can show a temporary habit in the present
When you first started to study verb tenses, you probably learned that we
use simple present for present habits and present progressive for actions that are
happening right now (actions still in progress). Thats true. But we also use
present progressive (and sometimes the other progressive tenses) to show
temporary habits.
If the present habit is temporary, we show this by using present progressive instead of simple present.
Examples:
Usually I drive to school, but this semester I take Im taking BART.
(Present progressive shows that the habit is temporary. Ill probably start driving again sometime in the future.)
Because its Lent, Maria and Jorge eat are eating fish instead of
meat. (Present progressive shows that the habit is temporary. It
suggests that Maria and Jorge will start eating meat again when Lent is finished.)
Its Ramadan, so Suhaila and Ahmed fast are fasting every day from
sunrise to sunset. (Present progressive shows that the habit is
temporary. It suggests that Suhaila and Ahmed will stop fasting
when Ramadan ends.)
Other tenses can also be used for temporary habits
We can use the other progressive tenses to show temporary habits, but
unlike present progressive, we can also use the nonprogressive form and (as far as I can tell) the meaning is always the same.
Examples:
Simple past and past progressive both can show a temporary habit in the
past:
The week before his wedding, Ralph woke up every night in a cold sweat.
The week before his wedding, Ralph was waking up every night in a cold
sweat.
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)

Past perfect and past perfect progressive both can show a temporary habit





43
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
that happened before something in the past:
Vlad had practiced every day before his piano recital, so he played
beautifully.
Vlad had been practicing every day before his piano recital, so he played
beautifully.
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Present perfect and present perfect progressive both can show a temporary habit that started in past and has continued until now:
John has gotten up at 4:30 every morning ever since he got that job at the
bakery.
John has been getting up at 4:30 every morning ever since he got that job
at the bakery.
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Future tense and future progressive both can show a temporary habit in the future:
During finals week, Ill grade papers every night until midnight.
During finals week, Ill be grading papers every night until midnight. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Future perfect and future perfect progressive both can show a temporary habit that will happen before something in the future.
When they finally pay off their mortgage, John and Marsha will have made
a house payment every month for thirty years!
When they finally pay off their mortgage, John and Marsha will have been
making a house payment every month for thirty years!
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)

A little more this point can be found in Extra Stuff about Past Progressive on p57 and Extra Stuff about Future Progressive on p77

5. Another time we can use present progressive for habits: present progressive + always
English speakers sometimes use present progressive with always to talk





44
Extra Stuff about Present Progressive
about a habit. The most common time that we do this is when were complaining
about someones habit that we find annoying. Simple present can be used with
the same meaning, but then it sounds more like a statement of fact rather a
complaint. We can also use keep + verb-ing for this type of complaint.
Examples:
Nortons driving me crazy! Hes always leaving his dirty socks on
the living room floor!
Nortons driving me crazy! He always leaves his dirty socks on the
living room floor!
Nortons driving me crazy! He keeps leaving his dirty socks on the
living room floor!
(These three sentences mean the same thing.)

My son is always getting parking tickets! He needs to learn to pay more
attention when he parks his car.
My son always gets parking tickets! He needs to learn to pay more
attention when he parks his car.
My son keeps getting parking tickets! He needs to learn to pay more
attention when he parks his car.
(These three sentences mean the same thing.)

However, youll sometimes hear Americans use present progressive +
always when theyre not complaining. I havent been able to figure out a rule about when this sounds natural to Americans and when it doesnt, but here are some examples:
Examples
Hakim is such a hard worker! Hes always staying late at the office to
finish his work!
Diedre is really kindhearted; shes always helping people.




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Simple Past

Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Simple Past
1. What does simple past mean?
The simple past tense usually means that this action ended in the past.
Simple past can be used for most past actions; we can use it for
actions that happened quickly,
actions that happened over time, or
actions that were habits in the past.
Heres a very rough rule: If an action happened in the past, youll
probably be correct if you use simple past for it. However, there are some
exceptions to this rule. To find out about them, go to More Stuff You Should Know about Simple Past p47.
Examples:
I arrived home at five. (This happened in the past.)
Yesterday I worked on my math homework for three hours. (This
happened over time in the past.)
When he was five, my son Hoku watched the videotape The Land Before
Time every day. (This was habit in the past.)
I didnt drink coffee in college, but I drank it a lot in grad school.
(These were habits in the past.)
Did you call me last night? (I want to know if this happened in the
past.)
Where did Rob sleep last night? (I want to know where this happened in
the past.)
When you were traveling in Asia, did you call your parents every week?
(I want to know if this was a habit in the past.)
Bill didnt tell his wife about the snakes in the bathtub. (This didnt
happen in the past.)





46
Basic Stuff about Simple Past
When I was in high school, I didnt study very much. (This wasnt a habit
in the past.)
Simple past has other uses and meanings. You can find out more about them in More Stuff You Should Know about Simple Past.


2. How do I make simple past?

Statements
verb-ed or irregular past form (if the verb is irregular) Examples:
Ralph called his mother to wish her happy birthday.
I taught high school for seven years before teaching at Chabot. Wayne and Garth studied Chinese in college.
Yesterday I cut my finger while I was opening a can of cat food.

Negative Statements
did + not + simple form
Examples:
George W. Bush did not attend Chabot College. I didnt see Betty at the mall.
The kids didnt eat their vegetables at dinner tonight.


Questions4
(question word) + did + subject + simple form Examples:
Did you wash the dishes?
Why did you pour ketchup on my head?
Did I tell you about the party that Rosa is having next Friday?
When did Shakespeare write A Midsummer Nights Dream?
4 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142.





47
More Stuff...about Simple Past
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Simple Past


1. When should I use simple past?
Most past actions can use simple past tense. As I wrote earlier, if an action ended in the past, youre pretty safe using simple past. However there are some (but not too many) times when you need to use past progressive, present
perfect, past perfect, or past perfect progressive instead.
To find out when you should use these tenses instead of simple past, check the sections that explain them:
past progressive--p51
present perfect--p99
past perfect--p122
past perfect progressive--pp128

2. The verb be
In More Stuff...about Simple Present (p20), we saw that be is a mighty
strange verb in simple present; questions and negative statements using be follow a different pattern than questions and negative statements using other verbs. The same is true with simple past; the patterns we follow with the verb be are different from the the patterns we usually follow.
Statements with be
If the subject is I, he, she, or it, use was. Examples:
I was a high school teacher before I started teaching college.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was a famous body builder before he became an
actor.
Tina was at work when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit.
The weather was warm yesterday, but its cold and windy today.





48
More Stuff...about Simple Past
If the subject is you, we, or they, use were. Examples:
My mother often tells me, You were always a stubborn child.
Fred and Ethyl were upset when Lucy and Ricky wanted to break their
lease.
Did you see us at the movie? We were in the third row.
Negative statements with Be
Add not after be.
Examples:
Norton was not a football player when he was in high school. I wasnt at the White House last night.
President and Mrs. Bush were not at my house last night, either.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver werent at my house last night. We werent surprised to learn that John got the job.
Questions with Be
Put be in front of the subject
Examples:
Was I noisy when I was a baby?
Were you in class last Tuesday? I was sick, so I need to get the homework. Why was Trista so sad last week?
How long were you at the store?

3. Unreal conditionals (subjunctive)
Simple past is also often used in unreal if-clauses in the present (e.g.--If
Ralph had $1,000,000.00 right now, he would quit his job in the blink of an eye).
I didnt have time to include this grammar point in this guide, but you can find a
pretty good discussion of conditionals in Understanding and Using English
Grammar chapter 20. Theres a more complete explanation that includes
progressive tenses in unreal conditional sentences in Grammar Links 3 chapter 19.





49
Basic Stuff about Past Progressive
Past Progressive

Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Past Progressive

1. What does past progressive mean?
Progressive tenses always happen over time, so past progressive means that the action happened over time in the past.
Examples:
I was studying all night for that history test! (This action happened over
time in the past.)
Were you sleeping when I called? (I want to know if this action was
happening over time when I called.)
No, I wasnt sleeping when you called. (This action was not happening
over time when you called.)
While Norton and Ralph were bowling, they ran into Fred and Barney.
(This action was happening over time in the past when Norton &
Ralph met Fred and Barney.)
If you have a really good memory, you might remember I said that simple past can also be used to show actions that happened over time in the past. This brings us to an important question: When should I use simple past for an
action that happened over time in the past, and when should I use past
progressive? Youll find the answer to this question in More Stuff You Should Know about the Past Progressive, p51.





50
Basic Stuff about Past Progressive

2. How do I make past progressive?
Statements
was /were + verb-ing
Examples:
Norton was watching T.V. when the microwave exploded.
While Thelma and Louise were driving down the highway, they noticed
that a police car was following them.
Marilyn and I were sleeping when the earthquake happened.


Negative Statements
was /were + not + verb-ing
Examples:
When I woke up, I knew that it was still nighttime because the sun was not
shining.
Eddie and Lumpy werent studying yesterday afternoon; they were
watching the Lakers game.
Im sorry; could you say that again? I wasnt listening.


Questions5
(question word) + was /were + subject + verb-ing Examples:
Was Governor Schwarzenegger ng dinner when you called him last
night?
Why was Eddie doing his math homework in English class? What were you reading last night?



5 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





51
More Stuff...about Past Progressive
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Past
Progressive

1. When should I use past progressive? A simple rule.
Both the simple past and the past progressive can be used to show actions that happened over time in the past. Because of this, there are many times when both tenses are okay.
Examples:
While John studied for his history test, Ludwig watched TV.
While John was studying for his history test, Ludwig was watching TV. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Miguel played soccer all yesterday afternoon.
Miguel was playing soccer all yesterday afternoon. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)

However, there are some times when only one tense is okay.
Examples:
Ward drove was driving to work when his car ran out of gas.
When Lucy called, Fred and Ethyl ate were eating dinner, so they didnt
answer the phone.
When I backed my car out of the driveway, a red Toyota suddenly was
hitting hit the rear of my car.

Okay, so when should I use past progressive and when should I use simple past? The rules for this are kind of complicated, so in this section Im going to give you a simple rule. If you follow this rule, youll write correct sentences even though there may be other correct ways to say the same thing. If youre interested you can find a more complete (but more complicated) explanation in Extra Stuff about Past Progressive section on p54





52
More Stuff...about Past Progressive
Heres the simple rule:
SIMPLE RULE FOR USING PAST PROGRESSIVE:
Use past progressive for actions that were happening over time when something else happened.6
If we draw a picture of this type of action, it looks like this:













The past progressive action started first and was happening over a period of
time. In the middle of the past progressive action, another action (one that
happened pretty quickly) occurred. (Sometimes, instead of another action, a time,
like at 10:00 or at the end of the movie, will happen in the middle of the past progressive action.)
Examples:
I was thinking about you when you called. (I started to think about you
first, and this action was happening over time when you called.)
At 10:00 last night, Bill was studying his math homework. (Bill started to
study first, and this action was happening over time when 10:00
came.)
While Lucy was shopping, she met her friend Ethyl in the produce section.
(Lucy started shopping first, and this action was happening over time
when she met Ethyl.)
6 For other times that an action happened over time in the past, simple past is almost always okay. See pages 122 and 128 for the times we need to use past perfect and past perfect progressive.





53
More Stuff...about Past Progressive
Everyone in the theater was crying at the end of the movie. (Everyone
started crying first, and this action was happening over time at the
end of the movie.)
Was Ralph walking down the street when the elephant bit him? (I want
to know if this action was happening over time when the elephant bit Ralph.)


2. When and while
When we use past progressive with simple past (see point #1), we can use either when or while to join the two clauses. When comes at the beginning of a clause that uses simple past, and while comes at the beginning of a clause that uses past progressive. Either clause can come first.
Examples:
While Barney was eating dinner, the cat jumped into the soup!
Barney was eating dinner when the cat jumped into the soup!
The cat jumped into the soup while Barney was eating dinner!
When the cat jumped into the soup, Barney was eating dinner.
All these sentences basically mean the same thing: Barney started eating
dinner first, and this action was happening over time when the cat jumped in the
soup.





54
Extra Stuff about Past Progressive
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Past Progressive (You May
Not Need to Know This)
1. I want to know more than the simple rule; whats the
difference between past progressive and simple past?
Lets start by reviewing what we already know about these two tenses. First, simple past can be used for several different types of actions:
actions that happened quickly,
actions that happened repeatedly, or
actions that happened over time.
Past progressive, on the other hand, can be used for only one type of action:
actions that happened over time.
Now that weve established that, lets look at the different ways we use these two tenses.
A. A single action
If were only talking about one action that happened over time, then often
both simple past and past progressive are okay, but we can use past progressive
when we want to emphasize that the action happened over time.
Examples:
Lisa rode her bike all morning.
Lisa was riding her bike all morning.
(These sentences have basically the same meaning, but the second sentence
emphasizes that Lisa rode her bike over a period of time.)
Eddie: So Wally, what did you do last night?
Wally: I worked on that report for history class. What about you?
or
Eddie: So Wally, what did you do last night?
Wally: I was working on that report for history class. What about you? (These sentences have basically the same meaning, but the second sentence
emphasizes that Wally worked over a period of time.)





55
Extra Stuff about Past Progressive
Dolly worked from 9:00 to 5:00 yesterday.
Dolly was working from 9:00 to 5:00 yesterday.
(These sentences have basically the same meaning, but the second sentence
emphasizes that Dolly worked over a period of time.)
Although you have a choice here, its always okay (at least in all the
examples I can think of) to use simple past. If you want to keep your
grammatical life simple, you can use simple past all the time in this situation.


B. An action that happened over time and was interrupted by another action that happened quickly
This is the same situation you read about in the simple rule on p51 . For
this situation, use past progressive for the action that was happening over time and simple past for the action that happened quickly.
Examples:
While Norton was working in the sewers, he found a bag full of money.
When Norton got home, Trixie was talking to Alice in the kitchen.
Two Jehovahs Witnesses rang the doorbell while Pam was eating
dinner.
I was sleeping when the Martians came in through the bedroom window.


C. Two actions that happened over time together.
There are three ways we can express this idea. They all mean the same
thing.
i. Past progressive and past progressive
Use while to join the two clauses. Either clause can come first. Examples:
While Ward was grilling the hamburgers, June was making her famous
potato salad.
Erika was reading her history textbook at the kitchen table while her
husband was talking on the phone
Milton got a ticket because he was trying to dance the Macarena while he





56
Extra Stuff about Past Progressive
was driving his car down the freeway.

ii. Simple past and simple past
Use while to join the two clauses. Either clause can come first. Examples:
While Ward grilled the hamburgers, June made her famous potato
salad.
Erika read her history textbook at the kitchen table while her
husband talked on the phone.
Milton got a ticket because he tried to dance the Macarena while he
drove his car down the freeway.

iii. Simple past and past progressive
Use while to join the two clauses. Either clause can come first. Examples:
While Ward was grilling the hamburgers, June made her famous potato
salad.
While Ward grilled the hamburgers, June was making her famous potato
salad.
Erika was reading her history textbook at the kitchen table while her
husband talked on the phone.
Erika read her history textbook at the kitchen table while her
husband was talking on the phone.
Milton got a ticket because he was trying to dance the Macarena while he drove his car down the freeway.
Milton got a ticket because he tried to dance the Macarena while he was
driving his car down the freeway.
At this point you might be saying, Wait! Some of these sentences look just like the sentences in section B on p55! (while + past progressive clause / simple past clause) Youre right.
When we use this form, context is often the only way that we can tell the
difference between this type of sentence and the type of sentence in section B. If
you dont like this ambiguity, you dont have to use this form. Remember that
there are two other ways you can use to say the same thing (see parts i and ii).





57
Extra Stuff about Past Progressive



2. Past progressive can be used to show a temporary habit in the past.
When a habit in the past is temporary, we can use past progressive. Simple past is also okay and means the same thing.
Example:
Before the karate tournament, Tony was practicing five hours every day. Before the karate tournament, Tony practiced five hours every day.
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Tony didnt always practice karate for three hours every day; he only did this before the tournament. Because it was a temporary habit, we can use past progressive or simple past.
But if the habit lasted for a long time, we only use simple past. Example
When Jackie Chan was a little boy, he was practicing practiced karate five
hours every day.
Here were looking at a much longer time: the time that Jackie was child. Because it was a pretty permanent habit, not a temporary one, we cant use past progressive.
If you want to keep your life simple, you can just use simple past for habits
in past; as far as I know, its never necessary to use past progressive for temporary
habits.
For more about temporary habits and more examples, see Extra Stuff about Present Progressive on p42.


3. Unreal conditionals (subjunctive)
Past progressive is also often used in unreal if-clauses in the present (e.g.--





58
Extra Stuff about Past Progressive
If I were eating lunch with President Bush now, Id tell him my opinions about politics.). I didnt have time to include this grammar point in this guide, but you can find a pretty good discussion of it in Grammar Links 3 Chapter 19.





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08-21-2009, 02:12 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Future Tense
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Future Tense

1. What does future tense mean?
Future tense is pretty straightforward; it means that the action will happen in the future, in other words, sometime after this moment.7 Like simple past, it can be used for actions that will
happen quickly,
happen over time, or
happen repeatedly.
Examples:
Johnll be here in a second or two. (This action will happen in the future.)
Tomorrow, Milton will apply for a job at beautiful Chabot College.
(This action will happen in the future.)
Norton is probably going to study his math homework for a few
hours at the library. (This action will happen in the future.)
Tonight George and Gracie will watch TV for a few hours after they get
home. (This action will happen over time in the future.)
Is Ralph going to bring his CDs to the party? (I want to know if this
action will happen in the future.)
When is Ricky going to wash the dishes? (I want to know when this
action will happen in the future.)
Barney wont eat dinner with George W. and Laura Bush tonight. (This
action will not happen in future.)
When Im 75 years old, Ill play with my grandchildren every day. (This
will be a habit in the future.)

7 Sometimes a student will ask, How can you know that an action will happen in the future? Nobody knows for sure what will happen in the future. These
students are absolutely right; we can never be 100% sure about the future. Future tense just means were pretty darn confident.





60
Basic Stuff about Future Tense
There are some times in the future when I cant use future tense. Take a
look at More Stuff...about Future Tense on pp63 & 64 to find out about these
times.
By the way, you may get a teacher who tells you that English doesnt have a future tense. Although thats technically true, most ESL teachers use the words future tense to talk about will and be going to. Its a clear and simple way to talk about these forms.

2. How do I make future tense?
The future tense can be made two ways
a) with will
b) with be going to.
Statements
Statements using will
will + simple form
Examples:
John will do his homework after he eats dinner. Ill call you tomorrow.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Statements using be going to
am/is/are going to + simple form Examples:
John is going to do his homework after he eats dinner. Im going to call you tomorrow.
The beatings are going to continue until morale improves.

Negative statements
Negative statements using will
will + not + simple form Examples:
Wayne wont go to the party because he needs to finish the homework for





61
Basic Stuff about Future Tense
his Chinese class.
I will not marry you, Beauregard!
Fred and Barney wont attend the lodge meeting tomorrow.

Negative statements using be going to
am/is/are + not going to + simple form Examples:
Wayne isnt going to go to the party because he needs to finish the
homework for his Chinese class.
I am not going to marry you, Beauregard!
Fred and Barney arent going to attend the lodge meeting tomorrow.
Questions8
Questions using will
(question word) + will + subject + simple form Examples:
Will you be in class tomorrow?
When will I find the love of my dreams? sighed Snow White. Who will Mortimer ask to the prom?
Questions using be going to:
(question word) + am/is/are + subject + going to + simple form Examples:
Are you going to be in class tomorrow?
When am I going to find the love of my dreams? sighed Snow White. Who is Mortimer going to ask to the prom?






8 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





62
More Stuff...about Future Tense
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Future
Tense


1. Sometimes will and be going to are different--Simple rules.
Most of the time, will and be going to have the same meaning. There are a
few times, however, that only one sounds right to an American. The complete
rules are pretty involved and have a bunch of exceptions, but if you follow the
rules below, youll be okay nearly all of the time. (If you want a more complete
explanation, see Extra Stuff about Future Tense on p67.)

A. You can use both will and be going to to show that someone thinks that this action will happen in the future (predictions).
Examples:
Ricky and Lucy will visit Havana next month.
Ricky and Lucy are going to visit Havana next month.
(These two sentences mean the same thing: I think Ricky and Lucy will
visit Havana .)
The newspaper says that it will rain tomorrow.
The newspaper says that it is going to rain tomorrow.
(These two sentences mean the same thing: The weatherman for the
newspaper believes it will rain.)


B. If you are volunteering to help or promising to do something, use will. Examples:
Jose: Dang! I lost my pencil.
Maribel: Here, Im going to Ill loan you one of mine. (Maribel is
volunteering to help, so she uses will. Be going to sounds strange
here.)





63
More Stuff...about Future Tense
Lois: Help us, Superman! A giant robot is destroying Metropolis!
Superman: Have no fear! Im going to Ill stop him. (Superman is
volunteering to help, so he uses will. Be going to sounds strange
here.)

Lumpy: Hey, Eddie, do you want to go to a movie tonight?
Eddie: Sure. Im gong to Ill call you after I finish washing my
Lamborghini. (Eddie is promising to call, so he uses will. Be going to sounds strange here.)

C. If you are describing a plan that was made in the past but will be
completed in the future, its safer to use be going to. Will often
sounds wrong.
Example:
Ralph: Norton! Why are you carrying that shotgun?
Norton: Theres a mosquito in my room. I will Im going to kill it!.
(Norton made the plan to kill the mosquito in the past, so he uses be going to. Will sounds wrong here.)



2. Dont use the future tense in time clauses
Most time clauses are logical; past time clauses use past tenses, and present
time clauses use present tenses, but future time clauses are strange; they dont use
future tenses. Instead, future time clauses usually use simple present. There is no
logical reason for this. It is simply one of many dumb things about English.
Sorry.
Examples of different types of time clauses: Past time clauses:
I called my mom after I got home from work. (Past time clauses are
normal; they use past tenses.)
Present time clauses:
I usually call my mom after I get home from work. (Present time clauses
are normal; they use present tenses.)





64
More Stuff...about Future Tense
Future time clauses
Ill call my mom tomorrow after I get home f rom work. (Future time
clauses are strange; they usually use simple present.)
Before I go to bed tonight, Im going to write a letter to my brother.
(Future time clauses are strange; they usually use simple present.)
Ill mow the lawn while you go shopping tomorrow. (Future time clauses
are strange; they usually use simple present.)
Because it is almost always correct to use simple present in future time
clauses, in this section, Im not going to explain when you can use other present
tenses in them. However, if you would like to know the other tenses that you can
use in future time clauses, check out Extra Stuff about Future Tense on pp70 &
71.

3. Dont use future tense in (most) future if-clauses
Like future time clauses, future if-clauses dont use future tense (with one exception--you can read about it at the end of this point). Past if-clauses use past tenses. Present if-clauses use present tenses. But future if-clauses almost always use simple present. Other tenses are also possible, but theyre less common. Lets look at each one individually.

i. Simple present in future if-clauses
Most future if-clauses use simple present. In fact, its so common that this is the only form that most ESL grammar books teach. If youre writing a future ifclause and youre not sure which tense to use, use simple present. Youll
probably be right.
Examples:
If Azumi buys a car next week, shell teach her sister how to drive.
(Future if-clauses usually use simple present.)
If I go to the store, Ill buy some bananas for you. (Future if-clauses
usually use simple present.)
Ill call you if Im in town next week. (Future if-clauses usually use simple
present.)
Man: Why are you selling lemonade for $500.00 a glass? No one will buy
it.





65
More Stuff...about Future Tense
Little Boy: Maybe, but if I only get one customer, Ill be rich!

ii. Present progressive in future if-clauses
When the action in a future if-clause is going to start first and still be in progress when the other action happens, then we use present progressive to show this. For this meaning, we cant use simple present.
Examples:
If you drive youre driving when the next earthquakes hits, you should
pull over to the side of road and wait until the shaking stops. (We
use present progressive here to show that the driving will start before
the next earthquake and this action may be in progress when the
earthquake happens. We cant use simple present here.)
Well go to a movie at 8:00 if John doesnt study isnt studying. (We use
present progressive to show that well go to the movie if Johns studying is not in progress when its time to leave. We cant use simple present here.)
If Ralph and Alice eat are eating when we arrive, maybe theyll invite us
for dinner! (We use present progressive to show that maybe Ralph
and Alices dinner will be in progress when we get there. We cant
use simple present to show this meaning.)

iii. Present perfect in future if-clauses
This form is possible,but we almost never need to use it. For this reason youll find it in Extra Stuff about Future Tense on p71.

iv. Simple past in future unreal if-clauses
Highly unlikely statements about the future (future unreal conditionals) use
past verb forms (e.g.-- If I went to the moon tomorrow, Id bring you back a
souvenir.) I dont explain conditionals in this booklet, but you can find a short
discussion in Chapter 20 of Understanding and Using English Grammar. Theres
a more complete explanation of conditional sentences in Grammar Links 3 Chapter
19.

The exception: As we saw earlier, we usually dont use future tense in if-clauses.
The only exception is when if starts a noun clause. (Usually, if starts an adverb





66
More Stuff...about Future Tense
clause.) When if starts a future noun clause, then we just use future tenses in normal way.
Note: This type of if-clause can also start with whether. If you have a good
intuition for English, this is one way that you can tell if you have a noun clause.
When you can substitute whether for if, then its noun clause.
Examples:
I dont know if (whether) John calls will call me tonight.
Can you tell me if (whether) Norton is will be at the party next Friday?

3. Sometimes other verb tenses can be used for future events.
In some situations, you can use other verb tenses instead of future if you want, but its not necessary; the future tense is also okay in all these situations.
*Simple present can be used for scheduled events in the future (see More
Stuff about Simple Present p22).
*Present progressive can be used for future plans (see More
Stuff about Present Progressive p32.).
*Future progressive can be used for future plans (see More
Stuff about Future Progressive p76).





67
Extra Stuff about Future Tense
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Future Tense (You May Not
Need to Know This)
1. I want more than the simple rule! What are the differences between will and be going to?
Id guess that over 90% of the time, will and be going to mean the same
thing, and even when they are different, the difference often isnt very important. We looked at the most important differences in More Stuff...about Future Tense on p62, but heres a more complete explanation.
A. Times that we can use both will and be going to
i. Predictions
We can use either will or be going to talk about things that we think will
happen in the future. (For more about this, see More Stuff about Future Tense on
p62.) This will probably be the vast majority of the times that you use future
tense
ii. Refusals
We can use either wont or be not going to to refuse to do something. Examples:
Randy: Im really worried about my karate test tomorrow. Will you help
me practice, Bob?
Bob: Forget it! Im not going to help you study tonight. The last time I
helped you, you broke my arm!
or
Bob: Forget it! I wont help you study tonight. The last time I helped
you, you broke my arm!
(For refusals, both wont and be not going to sound okay.)
Donald: I love you Daisy! Will you marry me?
Daisy: Never! For the last time, Donald, I am not going to marry you!
or





68
Extra Stuff about Future Tense

Daisy: Never! For the last time, Donald, I wont marry you! (For refusals, both wont and be not going to sound okay.)
B. Times that we should only use be going to
i. Future plans that were made in the past
If were talking about a plan that someone made in the past, then its best to use be going to.
Example:
Fred: Got any plans for spring break?
Barney: Yeah, Fred. I will Im going to paint my house. (Will sounds
wrong because Barney is obviously talking about a plan that he made in the past.)
However, its often hard to know whether a sentence is a prediction or
whether its explaining a plan. In these cases, either will or be going to usually sounds okay.
Example:
Fred and Ethyl have a lot planned for their vacation! First, theyre going
to drive down to LA and visit Disneyland for three days; then
theyre going to head east and visit the Grand Canyon. On their
way home, theyre going to stop at Yosemite National Park.
or
Fred and Ethyl have a lot planned for their vacation! First, theyll drive
down to LA and visit Disneyland for three days; then theyll head
east and visit the Grand Canyon. On their way home, theyll stop at
Yosemite National Park.
or even
Fred and Ethyl have a lot planned for their vacation! First, theyll drive
down to LA and visit Disneyland for three days; then theyre
going to head east and visit the Grand Canyon. On their way home,
theyll stop at Yosemite National Park.
Thats starting to get a little confusing, isnt it? Bottom line: If you want to be safe, remember that be going to always sounds okay both for predictions and for plans, so if youre not sure, its a very safe bet.
ii. When we see that something is about to happen
When we see (or hear or feel or maybe even smell) that something is about





69
Extra Stuff about Future Tense

to happen, then we use be going to instead of will. Examples:
Listen! Theres a noise coming from this egg! It will Its going to hatch! Help! Godzilla will is going to step on my car!















Call the police! Dracula will is going to bite President Bush!





70
Extra Stuff about Future Tense

Normally, this use happens in spoken English rather than written English. Again, this isnt a very important difference; if you use will, everyone will still understand you, even if it sounds a little strange. Also, if Dracula really is going to bite someone, nobody will care if what you say sounds a little odd.


C. Times When We Should Use Will
i. When we volunteer to help or when we promise to do something.
If were volunteering or promising to do something, we need to use will
instead of be going to. Be going to sounds wrong to Americans when we use it
this way.
Examples:
Randy: Im really worried about my karate test tomorrow. Are you going
to Will you help me practice, Bob? (Randy is asking if Bob will
volunteer to help her study.)
Bob: Sure, Im going to Ill help you practice. (Bobs volunteering to help,
so he uses will instead of be going to.)
Donald: I love you Daisy! Are you going to Will you marry me? (Donald
is asking if Daisy will promise to marry him.)
Daisy: Oh yes, Donald! Im going to Ill marry you! (Daisy is promising
to marry Donald, so she uses will instead of be going to.)
Did you notice that these are almost the same examples as the ones I used in
the explanation of refusing on p67? Volunteering and promising are like the
opposites of refusing, so they happen in similar situations. But remember: I can
only use will to volunteer or promise but to refuse, either will or be going to is
okay.


2. Present progressive in future time clauses
If an action in a time clause will be in progress (happening over time) when
another action happens, we can use present progressive to show this. So I far as I
can tell, this is never necessary. In all the examples I can think of, simple present
is also okay. In some cases, present progressive sounds a bit more natural to me,





71
Extra Stuff about Future Tense

but I cant think of a rule to explain why. If you can think of a good rule, please send me an e-mail.
Examples:
Norton will give Trixie a call tomorrow while hes working in the sewers. Norton will give Trixie a call tomorrow while he works in the sewers. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
While Lupe is taking her kids to school tomorrow, shell stop at the store
to pick up some milk.
While Lupe takes her kids to school tomorrow, shell stop at the store to
pick up some milk.
(These two sentences mean the same thing, but present progressive sounds a
little more natural to me.)


3. Present perfect in future time clauses
If the action in a time clause will happen first, then you can use present
perfect if you want. So far as I can tell, in future time clauses, you never need to
use present perfect; simple present is always fine, and both tenses mean the same
thing.
Examples:
Norton and Trixie will eat dinner after Trixie has called her
mom.
Norton and Trixie will eat dinner after Trixie calls her mom. (Both sentences mean the same thing.)
When George has finally fixed his car, hes going to drive to
San Jose.
When George finally fixes his car, hes going to drive to San Jose. (Both sentences mean the same thing.)


4. Present perfect in future if-clauses
Like future time clauses, future if-clauses usually use simple present. If the





72
Extra Stuff about Future Tense
action in the if-clause happens first, I can almost always use either simple present or present perfect, and the meaning will be the same.
Examples:
Mary will be grouchy tomorrow if she doesnt get enough sleep.
Mary will be grouchy tomorrow if she hasnt gotten enough sleep. (Both sentences mean the same thing.)
If Ralph cooks dinner before Norton and Trixie arrive, the food will
be ready when they get there.
If Ralph has d dinner before Norton and Trixie arrive, the food
will be ready when they get there.
(Both sentences mean the same thing.)

Sometimes (VERY rarely), when we need to show that one action in a
future if-clause will happen before another, we need to use present perfect to mark the action that will happen first.
Example:
If Ralph has d dinner when Norton and Trixie arrive, the food will
be ready when they get there. (In this sentence, Ralph will cook
dinner before Norton and Trixie arrive. Using present perfect tells
the reader that cook will happen first.)
but
If Ralph cooks dinner when Norton and Trixie arrive, theyll help him
chop the vegetables. (In this sentence, Ralph will cook dinner at
about the same time [and a little bit after] Norton and Trixie
arrive. The time is very different from the sentence above.)
If that seems confusing, I have some advice for you: Dont worry about it.
This type of sentence is very, very uncommon. If you use simple present for all
your future if-clauses, you will probably never make a mistake, even if you live to
be 105. You can find more information about using present perfect to show that
one thing happens before another in Some Final Points about Present Perfect on
p113.





73
Basic Stuff about Future Progressive
Future Progressive
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Future Progressive


1. What does future progressive tense mean?
Basically, future progressive means that an action will happen over time in the future. Its used in the same way as past progressive, except that we are
talking about the future instead of the past.
Examples:
Ill be studying all night for that history test! (This action will
happen over time in the future.)
Will you be sleeping at 11:30 tonight? I might need to call you if I
need a ride home from work. (I want to know if this action
will be happening over time at 11:30.)
No, Im not going to be sleeping at 11:30. Feel free to call me until
1:00. (This action will not be happening over time at 11:30.) Norton and Ralph will be bowling when Trixie gets home from
work. (This action will be happening over time when Trixie
gets home from work.)
Future present has another common meaning: it can also show a future plan. To find out more about it, you can read More Stuff You Should Know about Future Progressive on p76.


2. How do I make the future progressive tense?
The future progressive tense can be made two ways
a) with will
b) with be going to.





74
Basic Stuff about Future Progressive

Statements
Statements using will:
will + be + verb-ing
Examples:
Ricky will be working at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon.
Tomorrow Norton and Ralph will be fixing the plumbing in
Ralphs apartment.
I leave for Hawaii on Sunday, and on Monday Ill be body surfing at
Sandy Beach.
Statements using be going to:
am/are/is going to + be + verb-ing Examples:
Ricky is going to be working at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow Norton and Ralph are going to be fixing the
plumbing in Ralphs apartment.
I leave for Hawaii on Sunday, and on Monday Im going to be body
surfing at Sandy Beach.

Negative Statements
Negative Statements using will:
will not be + verb-ing
Examples:
Barney wont be working tomorrow. He has the day off. Fred and Ethyl usually eat dinner at 6:00, so they wont be
eating dinner if you call them at 7:30.

Negative Statements using be going to:
am/are/is not going to + be + verb-ing Examples:
Barney isnt going to be working tomorrow. He has the day off.
Fred and Ethyl usually eat dinner at 6:00, so they arent going to be
eating dinner if you call them at 7:30.





75
Basic Stuff about Future Progressive

Questions9
Questions using will:
(question word) + will + subject + be + verb-ing Examples:
Will you be working at 11:00 tomorrow?
Where will John be going to school next year?
Questions using be going to:
(question word) + be + subject + going to be + verb-ing Examples:
Are you going to be working at 11:00 tomorrow?
Where is John going to be going to school next year?




















9 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





76
More Stuff...about Future Progressive
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Future
Progressive

1. Future progressive for future plans
If you want to, you can use future progressive for future plans. In fact, there are
three tenses you can use for future plans: future tense, present progressive, and
future progressive. All of these are correct, and all mean the same thing. (If
youd like more information about future plans, see p63 and p32.) Examples:
Trixie is going to meet Norton in San Jose this weekend. (Future tense to
show a future plan.)
Trixie is meeting Norton in San Jose this weekend. (Present progressive to
show a future plan.)
Trixie will be meeting Norton in San Jose this weekend. (Future
progressive to show a future plan.)
(These sentences mean the same thing.)


Were going to buy a new car next week! (Future tense to show a future
plan.)
Were buying a new car next week! (Present progressive to show a future
plan.)
Well be buying a new car next week! (Future progressive to show a
future plan.)
(These sentences mean the same thing.)





77
Extra Stuff about Future Progressive
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Future Progressive (You May
Not Need to Know This)

1. Future progressive can be used to show a temporary habit in the future.
When a habit in the future will be temporary, we can use future progressive. Future tense is also okay and means the same thing.
Example:
Johns going to Hawaii next week! While hes there, hell be surfing every
day.
Johns going to Hawaii next week! While hes there, hell surf every day. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
If you want to keep your life simple, you can just use future tense for habits in the future; as far as I know, its never necessary to use future progressive.
For more about temporary habits and more examples, see Extra Stuff about Present Progressive on p42.





ΪrǾή♕MĂή   
08-21-2009, 02:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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♞DeSpErAdO♘
 
  ΪrǾή♕MĂή
 
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Present Perfect
Introduction
Present perfect can have four very different meanings, depending on how we use it:
We can use present perfect
*with a length of time (meanings #1 and #1b) *with no time phrase (meaning #2)
*with a time phrase that includes the present (meaning #3)

Because present perfect has so many meanings, most of my students agree that of all the English verb tenses, its the most confusing. Thats the bad news for beginning English learners. The good news for beginners is that there arent very many times when we absolutely need to use present perfect. Very often, another tense works just as well.
This chapter on the present perfect is organized differently from the others because there is so much information. Im going to start with A Short Survival Guide to Present Perfect, in which youll find the basic information youll need to deal with present perfect. After that, Ill explain each of the four main
meanings of present perfect in a separate section.





79
Present Perfect: A Short Survival Guide
Present Perfect:
A Short Survival Guide
1. How do I make present perfect?
Statements
have/has + past participle
Examples:
Ralph has won many bowling trophies.
I have often wondered why Ludwig is always late.
Ricky has been a nightclub singer for many years.
Negative Statements
have/has not + past participle
Examples:
I have not washed the dishes yet.
John and Marsha havent seen each other since 1987. Melvin hasnt had an easy life.


Questions10
(question word) + have/has + subject + past participle Examples:
Have you seen the movie Cecil B. Demented?
Where have all the flowers gone? (from a song by Pete Seeger) Hows your mom been?





10 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





80
Present Perfect: A Short Survival Guide
2. How do I know what present perfect means when I read it or hear it?
A. With a Length of Time
If you see present perfect used with a phrase that shows a length of time,
then it almost always means that the action started in past and has continued until
now.
Examples:
Ralph and Alice have lived in their apartment since 1994. Norton has worked in the sewers for eleven years.
Have you lived in Hayward a long time?
(For more examples and explanation, see Meaning #1 on p83.)


B. Without a Time
If you see present perfect used without a time phrase, it almost always
means that the action happened in the past, but the time is not known or not
important.
Examples:
Johns finished his homework, so he might go to a movie tonight. Arnold Schwarzenegger has won many bodybuilding contests. Have you met my cousin Ludwig?
(For more examples and explanation, see Meaning #2 on p98.)

C. With a Time Phrase that Includes the Present
If you see present perfect used with a time phrase that includes the present (like today, this week, or this month), then it means almost exactly the same as
simple past.
Examples:
Today, Fred and Ethyl have washed the windows. Lucy has dyed her hair twice this month.
Have you eaten lunch this afternoon? (If its afternoon)
(For more examples and explanation, see Meaning #3 on p110.)





81
Present Perfect: A Short Survival Guide
3. When do I need to use present perfect?
There are a lot of times when you can use present perfect, but only a few
times when its absolutely necessary. Most of the time, another tense will work
instead. As far as I can tell, there are only a few times you absolutely need to use present perfect:
A. in your life sentences,
B. stative verbs that started in the past and have continued until now,
and
C. Meaning #1b sentences.
Lets look at each of these:

A. In Your Life Sentences (For more about these, see More Stuff...about Meaning #2 on p100.)
In your life sentences tell about someones life from the time a person was born until now. There are four types of in your life sentence. :
i. Asking if someone has ever done something in her or his life
Examples:
Have you (ever) visited Yosemite National Park? Has John (ever) lived in Japan?
ii. Saying that someone has never done something in his or her life
Examples:
I have never eaten dog meat, have you?
John is lucky. He has never broken a bone in his life.
iii. Superlatives in someones life
Examples:
Thats the ugliest dog Ive seen in my life!
That was the hardest test Ive ever taken (in my life)!
Im going to cook you the best dinner youve ever eaten in your life!
iv. Telling how many times someone has done something in her or his life if it might happen again.
Examples:
Diep has visited San Diego three times. (It might happen again.)





82
Present Perfect: A Short Survival Guide

Elizabeth Taylor has been married eight times. (It might happen again.)
You can find out more about in your life sentences in More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #2, p100.
B. A stative verb that started in the past and has continued until now.
If you want to show that the action of a stative verb started in the past and
has continued until now, use present perfect + a length of time.
Examples:
Ive owned (stative verb) this book since I was little kid.
Garth has seemed (stative verb) sad for the past few days. I hope hes
okay.
C. Meaning #1b sentences
Present perfect meaning #1b is when we use present perfect with a length of time AND we indicate the number of times the action happened (For more about them, see Present Perfect Meaning #1b, p93)
Examples:
Ralphs eaten dinner at Solomons Deli three times since it opened last
week.
How many times have you called your parents since you came to the
United States?
Quentin has watched 232 movies since he joined Netflix.
John hasnt eaten meat once since he visited the local slaughterhouse.

Note--When we use meaning #1b with an action that happened once, sometimes well leave out the word once. This can be confusing to ESL students because now the sentence doesnt look like a meaning #1b sentence. Usually we only do this with questions and negative sentences. If you want, you can find more about this type of sentence in Extra Stuff about Meaning #1b, p96.
In the meantime, here are some examples:
Julia hasnt eaten meat (even once) since she visited the local
slaughterhouse.
Ludwig! I havent seen you (even once) since were in high school
together!
Have you called your parents (at least once) since you came to the United
States?





83
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #1
Present Perfect Meaning #1
Present perfect + a length of time
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Meaning #1

1. What does present perfect meaning #1 mean?
When I use present perfect with a phrase that shows a length of time like
for two hours, since 1911, since I came to America or twenty minutes,
then it usually means that the action started in the past and has continued until
now.
Examples:
Norton has studied English for the past three semesters. (Norton started
studying three semesters ago and has continued until now.)
Ludwig has worked at McDonalds since last March. (Ludwig started
working there last March and has continued until now.)
Fred and Ethyl have owned this building a long time. (Fred & Ethyl
bought the building in the past and have continued to own it until
now.)
Has Lulu worked at Costco since she graduated from high school? (I
want to know if Lulu started working when she graduated and
has continued until now.)
Dick Cheney has never kissed a cow. (This situation [not kissing a cow]
started in the past and has continued until now.)
Why have you been quiet for so long? (I want to know why you started to
be quiet in the past and have continued to be quiet until now.)
Joe hasnt smoked ever since his doctor told him to stop. (Joe stopped
smoking when his doctor told him to and this situation has continued
until now.)
Melvin has smoked since he was seventeen. (He started this habit when
he was seventeen and has continued the habit until now.)





84
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #1
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Present
Perfect Meaning #1
1. When should I use present perfect meaning #1?--A simple
rule
Present perfect meaning #1 and present perfect progressive mean the same thing; they both mean that the action started in the past and has continued until now. If we draw a picture of this meaning, it looks like this:












If present perfect meaning #1 and present perfect progressive mean the
same thing, that raises the question, How do I know when to use present perfect and when to use present perfect progressive? Im going to give you a simple rule that you can use. If you follow it, youll always create a correct sentence, even though there may be other correct ways to say the same idea:
SIMPLE RULE:
When you want to show that an action started in the past and has continued until now,
*for most verbs, use present perfect progressive, but
*for stative verbs, use present perfect meaning #1 (in other words, present perfect + a length of time).





85
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #1
Examples:
Betty and Barney have been eating dinner for forty-five minutes.
(For most verbs, use present perfect progressive)
Wayne has been doing his Chinese homework since 7:00. (For most
verbs, use present perfect progressive)
Barney has known Fred since they were little kids. (For
stative verbs, use present perfect + a length of time.)
Homer has loved Marge since they were in high school. (For
stative verbs, use present perfect + a length of time.)
If you want the complete story on when we use present perfect meaning #1 and
when we use present perfect progressive, see Extra Stuff about Meaning #1, p88


2. Using since, for, and in
We often use since, for and in with present perfect meaning #1 to show a length of time. Lets look at each one individually.
A. Using since with meaning #1
*We almost always use since with a point in time.11 Examples:
I have taught at Chabot since 1992.
since June, 1992.
since June 12, 1992.
since 10:00 a.m. on June 12, 1992. since I moved to El Cerrito.
Sometimes youll hear American use since + a present perfect clause (e.g.--
Im so blue since youve been away), which is different from since + a point in time. Its also a lot less common. If youd like to find out more about it, theres a brief discussion in Extra Stuff about Meaning #1 on p90.
IMPORTANT NOTE:
11 Since can have another meaning; it can also mean because. For example:
Since (because) she was feeling sleepy, Lucy decided to make a pot of coffee. This is a completely different meaning from since + a point in time.





86
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #1
Since + a point in time is only used with perfect tenses. Theoretically, it can be used with any perfect tense (although we dont use it very much with
future perfect tenses. For is a lot more common with future perfect and future perfect progressive).
Examples:
Ricky has worked at the Copacabana since 1998. (present perfect)
Wayne has been studying Cantonese ever since he fell in love with a
Chinese girl. (present perfect progressive.)
Melvin was crushed when he learned the truth. He had believed in Santa
Claus since he was a child. (past perfect)
Mary pulled over to the side of the road for a nap. She had been driving
since the sun came up. (past perfect progressive.)
Johns going to be exhausted when he gets off work tonight; he will have
been working since five this morning. (future perfect progressive.)
IMPORTANT POINT TO REMEMBER: If you use since + a point of time, you need to use a perfect tense!



B. Using for with meaning #1
We use since with a point in time, but we use for with a length of time. Examples:
I have taught at Chabot for thirteen years.
for two months.
for three weeks.
for ten minutes.
If we want, we can omit for and just say a length of time: Examples:
I have taught at Chabot thirteen years.
two months.
three weeks.
ten minutes.
Although since + a time is only used with perfect tenses, for can be used





87
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #1
with almost any tense. (The exception is present progressive. We almost never use time phrases with present progressive.)
Examples:
Trixie has lived in New York for fifteen years. (present perfect)
When I was young, I lived in Hawaii for two years, but now I live in
California. (simple past)
Dont cry, honey. Ill only be in prison for a few months. (future)
Fred and Barney were bowling for three whole hours last night. (past
progressive)
Using in with meaning #1
If we want to tell the length of time a person has not done something, then we can use either for or in. Both are okay and they mean the same thing when we use them in this way.
Examples:
You havent written your mother for a long time. You should write
her today. She may be getting worried about you.
You havent written your mother in a long time. You should write
her today. She may be getting worried about you.
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)

John hasnt practiced the piano for two years, but he wants to start
playing again soon.
John hasnt practiced the piano in two years, but he wants to start
playing again soon.
We only use this meaning of in with present perfect, past perfect, and
future perfect.





88
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #1
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Meaning #1 (You May Not
Need to Know This)
1. I want to know more than the simple rule! How are
meaning #1 and present perfect progressive different?
This point will take a while to explain because there are several things you
need to know. (Remember: if you want to skip this LONG explanation, you can
always use that SIMPLE RULE on p86.) Are you still here? Okay, lets get
started:
First, you need to know that present perfect meaning #1 and present perfect progressive mean the same thing: the action started in the past and has continued until now. Very often, we can use both tenses to say the same idea.
Examples:
I have taught at Chabot for twelve delightful years.
I have been teaching at Chabot for twelve delightful years. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Has Mary lived in Hayward since 1992?
Has Mary been living in Hayward since 1992?
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Okay, now we know that present perfect meaning #1 and present perfect
progressive have the same meaning. However, theres a problem: present perfect
meaning #1 sounds wrong with some verbs. With these verbs, when we use
present perfect + a length of time, it doesnt sound right to American ears.
Examples:
Barney has fixed the TV for an hour. (Sounds wrong to an American.)
Mina has written her history paper since 2:00. (Sounds wrong to an
American.)
The next question that comes up is, Which verbs sound strange with
present perfect meaning #1? Okay, heres the answer: Verbs that have a clear





89
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #1
result or ending point often dont sound right with meaning #1; for these verbs I need to use present perfect progressive instead. I know that probably sounds a little unclear, so lets look at some more examples:
Norton has baked has been baking a cake for an hour. (Bake a cake has a
clear result: the cake, so we dont use meaning #1. We use present
progressive instead.)
Ralph has washed has been washing the dishes for about twenty minutes.
(Wash the dishes has a clear ending point, so we dont use meaning
#1. We use present perfect progressive instead.)
George and Gracie have eaten have been eating dinner for about half an
hour. (Eat dinner has a clear ending point, so we dont use meaning
#1. We use present perfect progressive instead.)
Barney has fixed has been fixing the TV for an hour. (Fix the TV has a
clear result: a working TV, so we dont use meaning #1. We use present perfect progressive instead.)
Mina has written has been writing her history paper since 2:00. (Write her
history paper has a clear result: the history paper, so we dont use meaning #1. We use present perfect progressive instead.)

Because some verbs sound wrong with present perfect meaning #1, its
usually safer to use present perfect progressive for actions that start in the past and have continued until now.
At this point you may be thinking, Okay! Maybe I can forget about
present perfect meaning #1! Ill just use present perfect progressive all the time.
Well, youre almost right, but theres one more thing you need to know: We
cant use present perfect progressive with stative verbs. (Thats because we
usually cant use stative verbs in progressive tenses [see p29].)
To show this meaning (the action started in the past and has continued until now) with stative verbs, we have to use present perfect meaning #1.
Examples:
George has been loving has loved Gracie since the night they met. (Love is
a stative verb, so I cant use present perfect progressive. To show the
action started in the past and has continued until now, I need to use
present perfect meaning #1.)
Wayne has been understanding has understood Chinese ever since he
studied it in college. (Understand is a stative verb, so I cant use





90
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #1
present perfect progressive. To show the action started in the past and has continued until now, I need to use present perfect
meaning #1.)
Ahmed has been believing has believed in God since he was a child.
(Believe is a stative verb, so I cant use present perfect progressive. To show the action started in the past and has continued until now, I need to use present perfect meaning #1.)
Okay, lets summarize what weve learned:
When we want to show an action started in the past and has continued until
now,we can use either present perfect meaning #1 or present
perfect progressive for many verbs,
BUT
*I cant use present perfect meaning #1 with verbs that have a clear result
or ending point.
*I cant use present perfect progressive with stative verbs.
Thats a lot to remember, isnt it? If that seems like a bit too much,
remember that you can always follow the SIMPLE RULE on p86. If you follow this rule, youll always make a correct sentence.

2. Since + a present perfect clause
Usually English speakers use since + a point in time, but sometimes youll
also hear people use since + a present perfect clause, like this:
Wilma must be a good cook! Freds gained ten pounds since theyve been
together.

When we use since + a present perfect clause, it means something like
during this time. So the sentence about Fred means that hes gained ten pounds during the time that hes been married to Wilma.
The main clause can be simple present, present progressive, present perfect or present prefect progressive.
Examples:
My life seems empty since youve been gone. (simple present)
John is looking really fit since hes started working out. (present





91
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #1
progressive)
Luisa has made a lot of friends since shes come to the United States.
(present perfect)
Luisa has also been going to a lot of parties since shes been here.

Youll also sometimes hear people use since + a present perfect progressive
clause.
Examples;
Wally looks so happy since hes been dating Betty Lou.
Your English has really improved since youve been taking those ESL
classes!
Weird, huh? Nonetheless, youll hear it pretty often.
There are a couple things that Im not sure about when it comes to this structure.
First, Im not 100% sure this is a standard usage. I hear it a lot, but I almost never see it written.
Second, Im not completely sure about the rules that govern this usage.
Sometimes it sounds okay to me as a native speaker, and sometimes it doesnt, but
I cant always tell why. I havent found it mentioned in any grammar books, and
so far I havent been able to figure out exactly whats going on here. (If you
know, please e-mail me and fill me in: [email protected]. Thanks!)
The good news, however, this form is never necessary; you can always
create a sentence using present perfect meaning #1 or present perfect progressive to mean the same thing.
Examples:
My life has seemed empty since you left.
Johns been looking really fit since he started working out.
Luisa has made a lot of friends since she came to the United States.
Luisa has also been going to a lot of parties since she came here.
Wally has looked so happy since he started to date Betty Lou.
Your English has really improved since you started those ESL
classes!





92
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #1
3. If its already clear, we dont need to say the length of time with meaning #1.
If the length of time is clear to both of us, then I can leave it out.
However, its always okay to leave it in, and we actually do leave it in nearly all the time.
Examples:
Juans cousin from Mexico is visiting me. Shes really enjoyed her time
here (since she arrived). (Because its clear that I mean since she
arrived, I can leave it out, but its also okay to say it.)
John and Martha got married forty years ago, and they have had a
wonderful life together (since that day). (Because its clear that I
mean since the day they were married, I can leave it out, but its also okay to say it.)
Leaving out the length of time makes meaning #1 look like meaning #2, which can be confusing. In your own writing, its usually best to include the length of time to make sure that your meaning is clear, especially if youre not 100% confident about it.





93
Basic Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #1b
Present Perfect Meaning #1b:
Present perfect + the number of times something happened +
since + a point in time
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Meaning #1

1. What does present perfect meaning #1b mean?
As we learned earlier, when I use present perfect meaning + since & a point in time, it means that the action started at the point of time and has continued until now (present perfect meaning #1).
However, if I say the number of times an action happened, the meaning of present perfect changes. To see how the meaning changes, lets look at a few sentences. First, heres a sentence that uses present perfect meaning #1.
Liz has loved Mickey Mouse since she was a little kid. (She started to love
Mickey Mouse in the past, and this action (loving Mickey) has
continued over time until now.)

But now look at this sentence:
Liz has visited Disneyland ten times since she was a little kid.
When I say the number of times something happened, it means the action didnt happen over time; instead, the action happened repeatedly.
Examples:
Ive tried to call John seven times since he broke his leg.
Norton has written seven reports since the semester started. Ricky and Lucy have seen three movies since last July.





94
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #1b
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Present
Perfect Meaning #1b
1. We can only use since for this meaning
If I use present perfect meaning #1b, I can use since & a point of time, but I cant use for + length of time.
Examples:
Ive tried to call John seven times for two weeks since he broke his
leg.
Norton has written seven reports for three months since the
semester started.
Ricky and Lucy have seen three movies seven weeks since last July.
Thats because for means this action happened over this period of time.
Ive played basketball for half an hour means that the playing happened over a period of half an hour.
Since has slightly different meaning. It means this action happened
between this point of time and the time were talking about. Ive played
basketball since 6:30 means that the playing happened between 6:30 and now. Ive played basketball three times since last Tuesday means that the playing happened three times between last Tuesday and now.

2. Present perfect progressive doesnt work for meaning #1b
Remember that for meaning #1 of present perfect, its often safer to use
present perfect progressive (see p86). However, for meaning #1b (when I say the number of times something happened), I cant use present perfect progressive; I need to use present perfect.
Examples:
Barney has been going has gone bowling three times since I last saw
him.
Fred has been seeing has seen five movies since last November.
Since the semester started, we have been having have had five tests.





95
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #1b

Thats because present perfect progressive (like all progressive tenses ) shows that Im thinking of the action happening over time, like this:












But if I say the number of times, it means the action happens repeatedly, like this:














Usually, we cant use progressive tenses to show repeated action; we almost always use it for actions that happen over time. Theres an interesting, but not very important, exception to this idea: progressive tenses to show temporary
habits. If youd like to know about this point, you can find it on p42.





96
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #1b
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Meaning #1b (You May Not
Need to Know This)
1. Sometimes meaning #1b can be used for actions that only happened once.
Usually we use present perfect meaning #1b for actions that happen more than once.
Examples:
Thuy and Ngoc have written their parents three times since the semester
started.
Freds mother-in-law has come to visit ten times since he married Wilma.

However, its possible to use meaning #1b for actions that have only happened once.
Examples:
Thuy and Ngoc have written their parents once since the semester started. Freds mother-in-law has come to visit once since he married Wilma.
Sometimes when an action has happened only once, we dont say the
number of times, but we dont usually do this in affirmative statements. I think that this may be because the sentence looks just like present perfect meaning #1, which can be confusing.
Examples:
Thuy and Ngoc have written their parents since the semester started.
Freds mother-in-law has come to visit since he married Wilma.
(Both sentences are possible, but they sound a little clunky to my ear.)
Its a lot more common to see questions and negative sentences that use meaning #1b in this way.
Examples:
Have Thuy and Ngoc written their parents since the semester started? (I
want to know if they have written their parents once, or maybe more, since the semester started.)





97
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #1b
Has Freds mother-in-law come to visit since he married Wilma? (I want
to know if Freds mother-in-law has come to visit once, or maybe
more, since he married Wilma.)
Mortimer hasnt dated anyone since Mildred broke his heart. (Mortimer
hasnt dated anyone even once since Mildred broke his heart.)
I havent gone skiing since I broke my leg last on the bunny slope last
winter. (I havent gone skiing even once since I broke my leg.)
Note: When we use present perfect meaning #1b this way in negative sentences,
we have another (kind of strange) option. Usually, we cant use for + a length of
time with meaning #1b; we can only use since, as in the examples above.
However, in a negative sentence like this (the action didnt happen even once),
then we CAN use for + a length of time. I dont know exactly why this is; I have
a few speculations, but I think it would more confusing than helpful if I explained
them here. Instead, let me just give a few examples and leave it at that.
Examples
Mortimer hasnt dated anyone for a long time. I havent gone skiing for over a year.
If you have a good explanation of why we can use for in these sentences, Id be really interested to hear it.





98
Basic Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #2
Present Perfect Meaning #2
Present perfect without a time phrase
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Meaning #2


1. What does present perfect meaning #2 mean?
Present perfect meaning #2 means that the action was finished in the past, but the time is not known or not important. When you see present perfect used without a time phrase, its almost always meaning #2.
Examples:
Wayne and Garth have visited Disneyland. (It happened before now but
its not clear when.)
Mary has e-mailed President Bush thirty-seven times. (It happened before
now, but its not clear when.)
I have already finished my homework. (It happened before now, but its
not clear when. Already is not really a time phrase. It just
emphasizes that the action happened before now.)
Have you visited Disneyland? (I want to know if this happened sometime
in your life, but the time is not important.)
Have you ever kissed a duck? (I want to know if this happened sometime
in your life, but the time is not important.)
Have you washed the dishes? (I want to know if this happened before
now, but the time is not important.)
Yes, Ive washed them already. (It happened before now, but its not clear
when.)
You might be wondering, If present perfect meaning #2 happened in the
past, how is it different from simple past? Good question! 8-). This point is
explained in More Stuff You Should Know about Meaning #2 on p99.





99
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #2
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Meaning #2


1. When should I use meaning #2?--The simple rule.
Both simple past and present perfect meaning #2 show things that happened in the past, and so we can often use either tense and the meaning will be the
same.12
Examples:
We can drive to the store now because John fixed the car.
We can drive to the store now because John has fixed the car. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Did you wash the dishes?
Have you washed the dishes?
(These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Ron: Wow! Mortimer is a wonderful dancer!
Sherry: He should be. He studied with the New York City Ballet.
or
Sherry: He should be. Hes studied with the New York City Ballet. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
Alice is mad because Ralph didnt take out the trash. Alice is mad because Ralph hasnt taken out the trash. (These two sentences mean the same thing.)
At this point, many students ask, Okay! I can see that both present perfect
meaning #2 and simple past mean that the action ended in the past! Can I always use both tenses for past actions?
That would make life a lot simpler for ESL students, but sadly, the answer
is No. There are many times when both of these tenses are okay, but sometimes
only one is correct. Im going to give you a simple rule here. If youd like to
12 This is in American English. I am told in British English there is a clear difference between the two.





100
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #2
know more, take a look at Extra Stuff about Meaning #2 on p104. SIMPLE RULE
For most actions in the past, use a past tense. Simple past is okay nearly all of the time. The only times that I absolutely need to use present prefect for past actions are
in your life sentences (see the examples below) and
sentences that show that an action hasnt happened up to now (see the
examples below).
In Your Life Sentences
i. Asking if someone has ever done something in her or his life until
now
Examples:
Have you ever visited Yosemite National Park (in your life)? (Usually we
dont use the words in your life; sometimes we use the word ever to
show this idea, and sometimes we leave it out and assume that the
other person understands.)
Has John lived in Japan?
Have Fred and Ethyl visited Hollywood?
Has the United States ever lost a war? (The USA isnt a person,but we
can think of it in a similar way.)
ii. Saying that someone has never done something in his or her life
until now
Examples:
I have never eaten dog meat, have you?
Clarence Keokolenui lives in Hawaii, so he has never seen snow.
John is lucky. He has never broken a bone in his life.
Chabot College has never offered courses in the Basque language.
(Chabot College isnt a person, but we can think of it in a similar
way.)
iii. Superlatives in someones life until now
Examples:
Thats the ugliest dog Ive seen in my life!
That was the hardest test Ive ever taken (in my life)!
Im going to cook you the best dinner youve ever eaten in your life!





101
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #2

iv. Telling how many times someone has done something in her or
his life until now if it might happen again.
Examples:
Diep has visited San Diego three times in her life. (This might happen
again. We can use the words in her life, but usually we leave them
out.)
Elizabeth Taylor has been married eight times. (This might happen
again.)
My sons friend Amanda has written many poems. (This might happen
again.)
Shakespeare has written wrote many poems. (This wont happen again
because Shakespeare is dead, so we cant use meaning #2. Instead,
we use simple past)
Amnesty International has helped many victims of torture around the
world. (Amnesty International isnt a person, but we can think of it in a similar way.)
If youre not sure whether to use simple past or present perfect
meaning #2, you can often solve your problem easily just by stating the time that the action happened in the past.
If I say the time that an action happened in the past, or if the time is
clear, then I cant use present perfect; I have to use a past tense instead.
Examples:
Last night Ralph has eaten ate dinner with his friend Andre. (I cant use
present perfect because I said the time: last night.)
I have gone went swimming almost every summer day when I was a child.
(I cant use present perfect because I said the time: when I was a
child.)
Liz has met met Mickey Mouse when she visited Disneyland. (I cant
use present perfect because I said the time: when she visited
Disneyland.)


2. Using already and yet.
We often use already and yet with present perfect meaning #2. So far as I





102
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #2
can tell, these words are never absolutely necessary, but they add a little extra meaning.
Already emphasizes that the action happened before now. We use it with affirmative statements and questions.
Examples:
Have you already written your English paper? Yes, Ive already written it.
Yet also emphasizes that were talking about a time before now. We use yet with questions and negative statements.
In questions, yet, suggests that I think that if the action hasnt happened before now, it will happen sometime.
In negative statements, yet suggests that the action hasnt happened before now, but that I think that it will happen sometime.
Examples:
Have you written your English paper yet? (Yet emphasizes that I think that
either youve already written your paper or you will do it sometime.) No, I havent written it yet. (Yet emphasizes that I havent written the
paper before now, but that I plan to write it.)

In informal English, Americans often use yet and already with simple past to mean the same thing as present perfect meaning #2: that this action was
finished before now. This isnt standard English, but youll hear Americans say it when theyre talking informally.
Examples:
Formal: Informal:
Have you eaten yet? Did you eat yet?
Yes, Ive already eaten. Yeah, I ate already.
No, I havent eaten yet. No, I didnt eat yet.
Using already and yet with simple past is informal, but we can use them
formally with other tenses. When we use them with other tenses, already and yet have a meaning thats similar to the meaning that they have with present perfect meaning #2.
Examples:
Its only September, but Angela is already buying Christmas presents for
her family. (Already emphasizes that Angela started buying presents





103
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #2
before the normal time.)
Its only September! Why is Angela already buying her Christmas gifts?
(Already emphasizes that Angela started buying presents before the
normal time.)
We tried to stop John but he had already married the gorilla by the time
we arrived. (Already emphasizes that John married the gorilla before
we arrived.)
Khatols baby doesnt walk yet. (Yet emphasizes that I think that the baby
will start to walk sometime in the future.)
Does Mariams baby walk yet? (Yet emphasizes that I think that the baby
will start to walk sometime in the future if she doesnt walk now.) My son finished college last month, but he isnt working yet. (Yet
emphasizes that I think he will start working and that he will not be sleeping on my couch forever.)
Again, as far as I can tell, already and yet are never absolutely necessary. We can take them out of all the sentences above, and the basic meaning stays the same. Therefore, thats all Im going to say about these two words here, but if youd like to know more about them, you can find more information in Extra Stuff about Meaning #2 on p106.





ΪrǾή♕MĂή   
08-21-2009, 02:19 AM   #8 (permalink)
ΪrǾή♕MĂή
-
♞DeSpErAdO♘
 
  ΪrǾή♕MĂή
 
.

Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Meaning #2 (You May Not
Need to Know This)

1. More about the differences between meaning #2 and simple
past.
Present perfect meaning #2 and simple past are both used for actions that ended in the past. In fact, these two tenses are so similar that Americans
sometimes use them side by side when talking informally:
I have often walked down this street before, but the pavement always
stayed beneath my feet before. (From a song in the movie My Fair
Lady)

But there are some important differences. If you dont want to memorize
them all, you can just use the Simple Rule on p100. However, if youre the type
of person that likes more explanation, heres a rundown of the main differences:
A. If the time is stated or clear, use simple past, not meaning #2.
Remember: Present perfect meaning #2 means that an action ended in the past, but the time is not known or not important. If we say the time that the action happened or if the time is already clear between us, then we cant use meaning #2, we have to use simple past.
Examples:
President Bush has called called his mother yesterday. (We cant use
meaning #2 because the time is stated: yesterday.)
When Tam was a little boy, he has ridden rode his bicycle to school. (We
cant use meaning #2 because the time is stated: when Tam was a
little boy.)
B. If youre telling a story about the past, use simple past, not meaning #2.
Usually we use present perfect meaning #2 to briefly mention something that happened in the past. If we are telling the story about the past, even a short one, then we use simple past.





105
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #2
Examples:
Ive called my mom. (This is okay because the time isnt clear and its
only briefly mentioning an action in the past.)
Ive called (or called) my mom. She has said said that we should come
home soon. She also has said said to stop and get some milk on the way home. (As we explain more about what happened, present perfect doesnt sound okay anymore; this has started to become a story, so I need to use simple past.)
C. Use simple past, not meaning #2, for statements about people who are dead.
Examples:
George Washington has chopped chopped down a cherry tree. (Even
though the time isnt clear, we cant use meaning #2 because
George Washington is dead; we need to use simple past.)
My grandfather has arrived arrived in America with no money, no
English, and a lot of hope. (Even though the time isnt clear, I cant
use meaning #2 because my grandfather is dead; I need to use simple
past.)

D. Use meaning #2 for in your life sentences.
Remember that in your life sentences are sentences
i. Asking if someone has ever done something in her or his life
ii. Saying that someone has never done something in his or her life iii. Telling how many times someone has done something in her or his life if it might happen again.
If youd like to read a more complete explanation of in your life sentences, its back in More Stuff...about Meaning #1 on p100.
And again, if that seems like too much to keep in mind, remember that you always use the Simple Rule on p100.





106
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #2
2. More about already and yet
` Because already and yet are often used with present perfect, sometimes
students think that they can only be used with this tense, but this isnt true.
Already and yet can be used other tenses as well. Even though it doesnt directly relate to present perfect, I thought it might be good to explain these words a little more here.
As we discussed in More stuff about Meaning #2 (p101), already and yet dont change the basic meaning of tense. Already emphasizes that the action
happened or started before the time were talking about, and yet suggests that I think the action happened or will happen. Again, its never absolutely necessary to use already and yet.
Already with progressive tenses
With progressive tenses, already emphasizes that the action started before the time were discussing.
Examples:
Its only 6:00 a.m., but Fred is already mowing his lawn. Is Fred already mowing the lawn? Its only 6:00!
When Lucy went to kiss Little Ricky goodnight, he was already sleeping. Fred usually starts work at the gravel pit at 9:00, so tomorrow at 10:00
hell already be working.
Fred usually starts work at the gravel pit at 9:00, so tomorrow at 10:00
hell already have been working for an hour.

Already with perfect tenses
With perfect tenses, already emphasizes that the action was finished before the time were discussing.
John told his wife to come quickly, but when she came to the window, the
dinosaur had already left.
Ralph is amazing! Weve only been eating for seven minutes and hes
already eaten five hamburgers!
Will Vice President Cheney have already eaten dinner when you visit him
tonight?
Already with simple tenses
When we use it with simple tenses, already suggests different meanings





107
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #2
depending on whether the verb is stative or action verb and on whether were using formal or informal English.

Action verbs in simple tenses
When we use already with action verbs in simple tenses, it means that
action was a habit or something that was/is/will be always or usually true. (In
other words, the meaning is similar to the usual meaning of simple present with
action verbs.)
Examples:
Before he became a professional musician, John already practiced his
tuba for four hours a day. (This was a habit before he became a
professional musician and it continued until he became one.)
Juanita should apply for the job in Tokyo; she already speaks fluent
Japanese. (This was true before now, and it has continued until
now.)
Did Linda Lee already practice kung fu when she married Bruce Lee? (I
want to know if she had this habit before she married Bruce Lee.)

Stative verbs in simple tenses
When we use already with stative verbs in simple tenses, it means that the
action started before the time were discussing and continued until that time.
(This is very similar to the meaning we get when we use already with progressive
tenses.)
Examples:
John already liked American food when he moved to the United States.
(He started to like American food before he moved, and this
continued until [and probably after] he moved.)
Did Herman already hate opera when Hildegard started singing
lessons? (I want to know if he started to hate opera before this time.) Im getting old! Its only 10:00 and Im already tired! (I started being
tired before now, and this has continued until now.)


Already--formal and informal usage
As we saw in More Stuff...about Meaning #2 (p102), Americans sometimes use already with simple past to mean the action was finished before now. This is an informal usage.





108
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #2
Examples:
John already washed the car. (informal)
Mother: Jeremy, you cant watch TV until you finish your homework. Jeremy: But Mom, I already did my homework! (informal)
In more formal American English, we need to use already + present perfect or simple past alone to show this meaning.
Examples:
John has already washed the car.
or
John washed the car.

Mother: Jeremy, you cant watch TV until you finish your homework.
Jeremy: But Mom, Ive already done my homework!
or
Jeremy: But Mom, I did my homework!


Using yet
Yet in negative statements
When we use yet in a negative statement, it means that the action didnt happen before the time were discussing, but I think that action either happened later or that it will happen in the future.
Examples:
Its only eight oclock, so Barney isnt mowing his lawn yet; hes still in
bed. (Barney hasnt started mowing, but I think he will later.)
When Lucy went to kiss Little Ricky goodnight, he wasnt sleeping yet.
(Little Ricky hadnt started sleeping when Lucy came in, but I think he probably went to sleep later.)
Fred usually starts work at the gravel pit at 9:00, so tomorrow at 8:30
he wont be working yet. (Fred wont be working when 8:30
comes, I think he will start work later. )
However, Noras baby doesnt read yet. (Noras baby doesnt read now,
but I think she will in the future.)





109
Extra Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #2
yet in questions
When we use yet in questions, it shows that we expect that the action will happen if it hasnt happened before now.
Your baby is so cute! Does she talk yet? (Yet emphasizes that I think that
she will talk if she hasnt already started.)
When you called him last night, had Melvin washed the dog yet? (Yet
emphasizes that I think Melvin washed the dog, either before you
called or later.)





110
Basic Stuff about Present Perfect Meaning #3
Present Perfect Meaning #3
Present perfect + a time phrase that includes the present

Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Meaning #3

1. What does present perfect meaning #3 mean?
If we use a time phrase that includes the present (such as today, this week, this month, this year, this morning [when its morning], this afternoon [when its afternoon] and so on) we can use either the present perfect or the simple past; they are both correct and they mean almost exactly the same thing.
Examples:
I have eaten breakfast today.
I ate breakfast today.
(Both sentences mean the same thing.)

Have you brushed your teeth today?
Did you brush your teeth today?
(Both sentences mean the same thing.)
Thats pretty simple, huh?
As you read this, you may be thinking, A simple meaning of present
perfect? Thats too good to be true! There must be exceptions or something to make this more complicated... Well, youre right, but the additional points we need to make here arent all that important. Theres a slight difference in
meaning between meaning #3 and simple past
*when we say the number of times something happened, *in negative statements, and
*in questions.
But these differences are pretty small. If you want, you can read more about them in More Stuff...about Meaning #3 on p111.





111
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #3
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Meaning #3

1. Sometimes meaning #3 and simple past are a little different
As we saw in Part 1 (p110), meaning #3 of present perfect and simple past usually mean pretty much the same thing. However, there are a couple of times when the meaning is a little different. Lets look at each of these.
A. When we say the number of times something happened
When we say the number of times that an action happened with present perfect meaning #3, it suggests that I think this action may happen again during this period of time. Simple past suggests that I think this probably wont happen again during that period of time.
Examples:
Norton has gone bowling three times this week. (Present perfect suggests
that I think he may go bowling again this week.)
Norton went bowling three times this week. (Simple past suggests that I
think he probably wont go bowling again this week.)
Laura Bush is mad because her husband has left cracker crumbs in the bed
four times this week. (Present perfect suggests that I think he may
eat crackers in bed again this week.)
Laura Bush is mad because her husband left cracker crumbs in the bed
four times this week. (Simple past suggests that I think he probably wont eat crackers in bed anymore this week.)

B. Negative statements.
In negative statements, present perfect meaning #3 suggests that I think the action still may happen during this time. Simple past suggests that I think it
wont happen during this time.
Examples:
Vice President Cheney hasnt invited me over for dinner this month.
(Present perfect suggests that I think he might invite me later this





112
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Meaning #3
month.)
Vice President Cheney didnt invite me over for dinner this month.
(Simple past suggests that I dont thinks hes going to invite me later this month.)
Gracie hasnt bought bananas this month. (Present perfect suggests that I
think she might buy bananas later this month.)
Gracie didnt buy bananas this month. (Simple past suggests that I dont
think shell buy bananas at all this month.)
C. Questions
Questions using present perfect meaning #3 are similar to negative
statements. Using meaning #3 suggests that that action might happen if it hasnt happened already, but using simple past suggests that if it hasnt happened by now, it probably wont.
Examples:
Have you eaten breakfast today? (Present perfect suggests that if you
havent eaten breakfast today, you might eat it later.)
Did you eat breakfast today? (Simple past suggests that if you havent
eaten breakfast today, you probably wont.)
Has Fred washed his car this week? (Present perfect suggests that if Fred
hasnt washed his car this week, he might polish it later.)
Did Fred wash his car this week? (Simple past suggests that if Fred hasnt
washed his car this week, he probably wont.)





113
Some Final Points about Present Perfect
Some Final Points about the Present Perfect

1. When we use it with simple present, present perfect means this happens first.
Generally, perfect tenses show that the action happens before something.
Past perfect shows that an action happened before something in the past:
Norton was tired when he got home last night because he had worked all
day long in the sewers. (Past perfect makes it clear he worked before
he got home.)
Future perfect shows that an action will happen before something in the
future:
Nortons going to be tired when he gets home tonight because he will have
worked all day long in the sewers. (Future perfect makes it clear hes
going to work before he gets home.)

We can also use present perfect to show that something happens before a simple present action:
Norton is always tired when he gets home because he has worked all day
long in the sewers. (Present perfect makes it clear he works before he
gets home.)
We only use present perfect this way in times when we normally use simple
present. In most of these cases, we dont need to use present perfect; simple
present is okay if its easy to see which action happens first. For example, if I
say,
Norton is always tired when he gets home because he works all day long
in the sewers,
youll probably understand that he works before he gets home. Thats why hes
tired.





114
Some Final Points about Present Perfect

Some other times that I can use present perfect in this way are
*future time clauses and if-clauses (See Extra Stuff about Future Tense
pp70-72 for more about these.)
*time clauses in simple present sentences. (See Extra Stuff about Simple
Present p25)





115
Basic Stuff about Present Perfect Progressive
Present Perfect Progressive

Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Present Perfect Progressive

1. What does present perfect progressive mean?
Unlike present perfect, present perfect progressive has only one meaning
(thank goodness!) Present perfect progressive always means this action started in
the past and has continued until now (or almost until now). In other words,
present perfect progressive means the action has been happening over time until
now.
Examples:
Ive been cleaning my house since eight this morning. (This action has
been happening over time until now.)
Ive been cleaning my house. (This action has been happening over
time until now.)
Ralph hasnt been getting enough sleep since he started working nights.
(This action has been happening over time until now.)
Norton has been writing a term paper titled Wabbit Dweams:
Jungian Symbolism in the 1940s-50s Looney Tunes Oeuvre. (This action has been happening over time until now.)
Norton and Trixies hair is wet because theyve been walking in the rain.
(This action has been happening over time until ( or almost until)
now.)
Have you been using my razor? (I want to know if this action has been
happening over time before now.)
If you have a good memory, you might be thinking, Hey! this is the same
meaning as present perfect meaning #1! Youre right, present perfect with a
length of time almost always means the same as present perfect progressive.
That raises some questions: Are present perfect and present perfect progressive





116
Basic Stuff about Present Perfect Progressive
always the same? And if theyre not, when should I use present perfect, and when
should I use present perfect progressive? Youll find the answers to these
questions in More Stuff You Should Know about Present Perfect Progressive.


2. How do I make present perfect progressive?
Statements
have/has been + verb-ing
Examples:
John has been thinking about getting a tattoo.
Betty and Barney have been remodeling their garage.
Weve been studying verb tenses for so long that now were going crazy.

Negative Statements
have/has not been + verb-ing
Examples:
My car hasnt been running smoothly. I think Ill take it to the mechanic.
Manuel hasnt been doing his homework since he got a third job.
Im going to stay home from work today. I havent been feeling well
lately.

Questions13
(question word) + have/has + subject + been + verb-ing Examples:
Has Fred been working nights? He looks tired. Why have you been avoiding me?
Where have you been keeping yourself? (An informal way of saying I
haven't seen you in a long time.)



13 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





117
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Progressive
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Present
Perfect Progressive
1. How is present perfect progressive different from present perfect?
The biggest difference between these two tenses is that present perfect has a lot of meanings, but present perfect progressive has only one meaning.
Present perfect is a bit of a headache because it has three (!) different
meanings depending on the time phrase that I use with it. If we count meaning
#1b, then its even worse: four different meanings! (see p80 for more about
this). Just in case you need a review of these, here are meanings 1, 2, and 3.
Meaning #1: Ms. Hunt has taught ESL 110c since the beginning of the
semester. (When I use present perfect + a length of time, it means
the action started in the past and has continued until now.)
Meaning #2. Ms. Hunt has taught ESL 110c. (This sentence has a
different meaning. When I use present perfect without a time phrase, it means the action ended in the past, but the time is not clear.)
Meaning #3. Ms. Hunt has taught ESL 110c today. (This sentence has
yet a different meaning. When I use present perfect with a time
phrase that includes the present, it means about the same as the simple
past.)
Present perfect progressive on the other hand, is nice and simple. It only
has one meaning, which is the same as present perfect meaning #1; it always
means this action has been happening over time until now (or almost until now).
With present perfect meaning #1, we almost always need to use a length of time to
show its meaning #1, not meaning #2 or meaning #3. But with present perfect
progressive, it doesnt matter if I use a time phrase or not; it always means the
same thing.
Examples:





118
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Progressive
I have been reading a good book since last Tuesday. (This action
has been happening over time until now.)
I have been reading a good book. (This action has been happening
over time until now.)
I have been reading a good book today. (This action has been
happening over time until now.)


2. When should I use present perfect progressive?--A simple
rule.
As I mentioned earlier, present perfect progressive means the same as
meaning #1 of present perfect, so we can often use either one and the meaning will be the same.
Examples:
I have taught at Chabot for eight years.
I have been teaching at Chabot for eight years.
(These two sentences mean the same thing: This action has been happening
over time until now.)
Norton has worked in the sewers for many, many years.
Norton has been working in the sewers for many, many years.
(These two sentences mean the same thing: This action has been happening
over time until now.)
It would be great if we could always use either tense, but unfortunately,
sometimes only one sounds correct to native speakers (e.g.--Barney has eaten
dinner for an hour sounds wrong.) When should we use present perfect
progressive and when should we use present perfect meaning #2? The actual rule
for this is complicated, but if you follow this simpler rule, youll always be okay.
(If you really want to know the whole story, look at Extra Stuff about Meaning
#1 on p88.)
SIMPLE RULE FOR USING PRESENT PERFECT PROGRESSIVE:
*When an action started in the past and has continued until now, use
present perfect progressive EXCEPT for the stative verbs. For these, use





119
More Stuff...about Present Perfect Progressive
present perfect + a length of time (present perfect meaning #1).
Examples:
Ms. Murray has been teaching ESl since she was 22. (This action started
in the past and has continued until now. Teach isnt a stative verb, so
I used present perfect progressive.)
Ever since he was a child, Jim has believed in treating others kindly. (This
action started in the past and has continued until now, but I have to
use present perfect + a length of time because believe is a stative
verb.)
Norton has been trying to fix that toaster for hours. (This action
started in the past and has continued until now. Try isnt a stative verb, so we use present perfect progressive.)
Ralph has known Norton since they were both twelve. (This action
started in the past and has continued until now, but I have to use
present perfect + a length of time because know is a stative verb.)
You can find lists of stative verbs More Stuff...about Present Progressive on p29.





ΪrǾή♕MĂή   
08-21-2009, 02:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
ΪrǾή♕MĂή
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♞DeSpErAdO♘
 
  ΪrǾή♕MĂή
 
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Past Perfect
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Past Perfect


1. What does past perfect mean?
Past perfect usually means that this action finished before something in the
past.
Examples:
Ralph had eaten dinner before he started his homework. (He ate dinner
first, and later he started his homework.)
When Alice got home, Ralph had finished his homework . (He finished
his homework first, before Alice got home.)
I got a low grade on the test because I hadnt studied. (I didnt study
before the test.)
Had Ishmael eaten breakfast when he left the house this morning? (I want
to know if Ishmael ate breakfast before he left the house.)
Past perfect can also have another meaning. Past perfect + a length of time means about the same as past perfect progressive, but we cant use it all the time. To read more about this, see More Stuff....about the Past Perfect on p123
Most of the time,we dont need to use past perfect; simple past is usually okay. To find out more about this, take a look at More Stuff....about the Past Perfect on p122.





121
Basic Stuff about Past Perfect
2. How do I make past perfect?
Statements
had + past participle
Examples:
Lucy and Ethyl had worked at the candy factory for only
three hours before they quit.
Ricky loved Havana because he had grown up there.
Norton and Trixie invited me to dinner, but I said no because I
had already eaten.
Negative Statements
had not + past participle
Examples:
I felt nervous when I got to class because I had not done my homework. Maria was overjoyed to see her mother because she hadnt seen her for
three months!
Someone stole Ralphs car because he had forgotten to lock the doors.

Questions14
(question word) + had + subject + past participle Examples:
Had you ever eaten American food before coming to the United States?
Wilma saw that Betty was crying after she talked to Barney. What had he
told her?









14 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





122
More Stuff...about Past Perfect
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Past
Perfect

1. We often dont need to use past perfect
Past perfect works like an extra signal that this action happened before something in the past. If its already obvious that the action happened first, we can also use simple past and the meaning will be the same.
Examples:
Trixie got home after Norton had washed the dishes .
Trixie got home after Norton washed the dishes. (These two sentences
mean the same thing. I can use simple past because its obvious that Norton washed the dishes before Trixie got home. The word after clearly shows which action happened first.)
Norton had washed the dishes before Trixie got home.
Norton washed the dishes before Trixie got home. (These two sentences
mean the same thing. I can use simple past because its obvious that
Norton washed the dishes before Trixie got home. The word before
clearly shows which action happened first.)
However, if we need to make it clear that one action happened first, then
we should use past perfect to show that this action happened before the other one.
Examples:
Norton washed the dishes when Trixie got home. (Unlike before and
after, when doesnt really show that one action happened first. It
means that the two actions happened at about the same time. If both actions are in simple past, as in this sentence, the action in the whenclause usually happens a little bit earlier than the other action. So this sentence means that Trixie got home first, and then Norton washed the dishes at about the same time.)
Norton had washed the dishes when Trixie got home. (This sentence
means something completely different. The past perfect shows that
the action wash happened first. So this sentence means that Norton





123
More Stuff...about Past Perfect
washed the dishes first, and he was finished when Trixie got home.) Trixie walked through the apartment door and her jaw dropped in surprise.
Norton had washed the dishes! (In this sentence, there isnt a time
word to show that Norton washed the dishes before Trixie got home,
so we use past perfect to make this point clear.)

Theres another time that we need to use past perfect instead of simple past (when we use the words by the time), but its not very common, so Im putting in Extra Stuff about Past Perfect on p124.



2. Past perfect + a length of time means the same as past perfect progressive
Often, past perfect + a length of time can be also used to mean about the same as the past perfect progressive.
For example, these two sentences mean the same thing:
I was really tired because I had been studying since 7:00. (past
perfect progressive)
I was really tired because I had studied since 7:00. (past perfect)
However, I cant do this with all verbs. Sometimes only past perfect + a length of time is correct, and sometimes only past perfect progressive is correct. See More Stuff...about Past Perfect Progressive on p128 for a rule about when to use past perfect and when to use present perfect progressive.


3. Past perfect in unreal conditional (subjunctive) sentences
Another time that you may see past perfect is in unreal conditional
sentences such as Id be able to write Japanese if I had gone to school in Japan.
I didnt have time to include this grammar point in this guide, but you can find a
pretty good discussion of conditionals in Understanding and Using English
Grammar chapter 20. Theres a more complete explanation that includes
progressive tenses in unreal conditional sentences in Grammar Links 3 Chapter 19.





124
Extra Stuff about Past Perfect
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Past Perfect (You May Not
Need to Know This)

1. One more time that we need to use past perfect
Another time that we usually use past perfect instead of simple past is when we use the words by the time. By the time and before mean the same thing when theyre followed by a clause. However, we usually only use by the time with
perfect tenses15 . Therefore, the first three sentences mean the same thing, but the last sentence doesnt sound correct.
Norton had washed the dishes before Trixie got home. (Sounds okay.)
Norton had washed the dishes by the time Trixie got home. (Sounds
okay.)
Norton washed the dishes before Trixie got home. (Sounds okay.)
Norton washed the dishes by the time Trixie got home. (Sounds odd
because we usually only use by the time with perfect tenses).















15 The one exception I know to this is when we use a stative verb in the main clause. In this case, the meaning is a little different. It means that the action started in the past and has continued until the time were discussing, e.g.-- By the time the
semester ended, everyone hated Professor Martinet.





125
Basic Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive
Past Perfect Progressive
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive


1. What does past perfect progressive mean?
Perfect actions happen before something. Progressive actions happen over time. We use past perfect progressive when we want to make it clear that the action was happening
*over time
*until (or almost until) something *in the past.
Another way to say the same thing is that we use past perfect progressive to show that an action started before a time in the past and that the action continued until (or almost until) that time.
If we draw a picture of past perfect progressive, it looks like this:










Examples:
When the earthquake occurred, Barney had been watching the World
Series on T.V. (Barney started watching T.V. before the earthquake
and was watching until (or almost until) the earthquake hit.)
Mortimer and Ludwig were acting strange last night. Had they been





126
Basic Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive
drinking before they came to the party? (I want to know if they
were drinking shortly before they arrived.)
Ralph almost had an accident; he hadnt been paying attention to the road.
(Ralph was not paying attention for a period of time until he almost
had an accident.)
Where had Ralph and Trixie been living before they found the apartment
they have now? (I want to know where Ralph and Trixie were living
until they found their new apartment.)
At twelve oclock I had been correcting papers for three hours. (I was
correcting papers for three hours before twelve oclock.)

The main questions my students usually have about past perfect progressive
are
*When should I use past perfect progressive?
*How is past perfect progressive different from past perfect?
*How is past perfect progressive different from past progressive?
Youll find the answers to these questions in More Stuff You Should Know about Past Perfect Progressive.

2. How do I make past perfect progressive tense?
Statements
had been + verb-ing
Examples:
When Trixie finally arrived, Norton had been waiting for 20 minutes. Lucys eyes were red. Ricky could tell she had been crying.
Wilma was exhausted. She had been ng all afternoon.
Negative Statements
had not been +verb-ing
Examples:
Betty looked so thin the last time we met! I think she hadnt been eating
properly.
Billys teacher sent a note to his parents saying that he had not been doing
all of his work.
After the camping trip, Barney had a beard because he hadnt been





127
Basic Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive
shaving for a couple weeks. .

Questions16
(question word) + had + subject + been + verb-ing Examples:
What had Fred been doing before Wilma got home?
Where had Ricky been working before he got his job at the Copacabana?


























16 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





128
More Stuff...about Past Perfect Progressive
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Past
Perfect Progressive

1. When should I use past perfect progressive?--A simple rule
We use past perfect progressive to make it clear that an action happened
over time until something in the past. A lot of the time, we can also use past
perfect + a length of time to show this. Often, both tenses are okay and they both mean the same thing.
Example:
I had studied for three hours before the test.
I had been studying for three hours before the test. (These sentences mean the same thing.)
Unfortunately, sometimes only one of these tenses is correct. Im going to
give you a simple rule here; it wont tell you everything, but if you follow this
rule, youll create correct sentences. If youre interested in a more detailed
explanation, you can go to Extra Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive on p128.
SIMPLE RULE:
If you want to show that an action was happening over time until something in the past,
*use past perfect progressive with most verbs
*use past perfect + a length of time with stative verbs
Example:
Ricky had been washing his car when it started to rain. (We can use past
perfect progressive because wash isnt a stative verb.)
Fred loved Ethyl. He had loved her since the day they met. (Love is a
stative verb, so we cant use past perfect progressive. Instead, we
need to use past perfect + a length of time.)
Note: This is almost exactly the same rule that I use for
*present perfect vs. present perfect progressive and
*future perfect vs. future perfect progressive.





129
Extra Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive (You
May Not Need to Know This)


1. I want to know more than the simple rule! How are past perfect and past perfect progressive different?
In More Stuff You Should Know about Past Perfect Progressive I gave
you a simple rule about when to use past perfect progressive and when to use past
perfect + a length of time. Heres the more detailed explanation that lies behind
that rule.
A lot of the time, both past perfect progressive and past perfect + a length of time are okay.
Example:
Fred had been driving for six hours when he almost had an accident.`
Fred had driven for six hours when he almost had an accident.
(In this case, both sentences are correct, and they mean the same thing.)
But sometimes one of these tenses isnt correct. This can happen for two reasons:
A. Stative verbs cant be used in progressive tenses, so they cant be
used in past perfect progressive. For stative verbs, we have to use
past perfect + a length of time.
Example:
Captain Ahab had been hating had hated Moby Dick for many years before
Ishmael joined the crew. (I cant use past perfect progressive because
hate is a stative verb. I have to use past perfect + a length of time.)
B. Some verbs sound strange to Americans when we use them with a
perfect tense + a length of time.
Example:
John and Marsha had eaten had been eating dinner for about twenty
minutes by the time we got there. (Had eaten dinner for about
twenty minutes sounds strange to Americans. I need to use past
perfect progressive





130
Extra Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive
Youre probably wondering, Okay, how can I know which verbs sound
strange when we use them in past perfect + a length of time? Theyre the same
verbs that sound strange when we use them with present perfect + a length of
time. You can find them explained in Extra Stuff about Meaning #1 on p88
2. There are other ways to say the same thing.
Past perfect progressive is one way to show that an action was happening
over time until something in the past. There are also other ways that we can show the same information. If we use these other ways, we dont need to use past
perfect progressive; we can use other past tenses.
Examples:
Governor Schwarzenegger had been lifting weights when the reporters
arrived for a press conference . (In this sentence, past perfect
progressive shows that the action lift was happening over time until (or almost until) the reporters arrived.)
Governor Schwarzenegger had lifted weights for an hour when the
reporters arrived for a press conference. (In this sentence, past
perfect + a length of time shows that the action lift happened over time until the reporters arrived. )
Governor Schwarzenegger was lifting weights before the reporters arrived
for a press conference. (In this sentence, past progressive shows that
the action lift was happening over time. The word before shows that it happened before the reporters arrived. When I use before together with past progressive, it suggests that the action continued until the reporters arrived.)
Governor Schwarzenegger lifted weights for an hour before the reporters
arrived for a press conference. (In this sentence, the words for an
hour show that the action happened over time, and the word before
shows that it happened. When I use before together with for an hour,
it suggests that the action continued until the reporters arrived.)
(These sentences all mean the same thing.)

3. For and Since with past perfect progressive
When we use past perfect progressive with a time clause, we usually use for
+ a length of time (or just a length of time) instead of since + a point in time.
Examples:





131
Extra Stuff about Past Perfect Progressive
John had been running since 10:00 for three hours when he finally
crossed the finish line of the marathon.
When June got home, Ward had been grilling hamburgers since
6:00 for about 10 minutes.

4. Unreal conditionals (subjunctive)
Past perfect progressive is also used in unreal if-clauses in the present (e.g.-
-Thank goodness John is safe! He might have been killed if he had been driving on the Bay Bridge when the earthquake hit.). I didnt have time to include this grammar point in this booklet, but you can find a pretty good discussion of it in Understanding and Using English Grammar Chapter 20. Theres a more
complete discussion that includes progressive tenses in unreal conditional
sentences in Grammar Links 3 Chapter 19.





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08-21-2009, 02:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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.

Future Perfect
Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Future Perfect

1. What does future perfect mean?
Future perfect means that this action will happen before something in the
future. It has exactly the same meanings as past perfect, except the time is the
future.
Examples:
When Betty gets home this evening, Barney will have washed the dishes.
(Barney will wash the dishes before Betty gets home.)
You will have studied twelve verb tenses by the time you finish reading
this booklet. (Youll study the verb tenses before you finish the
booklet.)
I have eight more chapters to study! I wont have finished by the time we
have the test tomorrow. (I will not finish before the test.)
Will you have finished your homework before its time to go to the party?
(I want to know if you will finish your homework before its time to
leave for the party.)
NOTE--As with past perfect, I dont need to use future perfect if its already clear
which action happened first. I can also use future tense and the meaning will be
the same. Because of this, most of the time, I dont need to use future perfect.
Examples:
Ralph will have d dinner before Alice gets home.
Ralph will cook dinner before Alice gets home. (These two sentences mean
the same thing. I can use future tense instead of future perfect
because its obvious that Ralph will cook dinner first. The word
before makes this clear.)
Another meaning: Future perfect + a length of time has the same meaning
as future perfect progressive. For more about this, take a look at More Stuff You





133
Basic Stuff about Future Perfect

Should Know about Future Perfect on p134.

2. How do I make future perfect?
Statements
will have + past participle
Examples:
I will have eaten dinner before I go to bed.
By the time they go on vacation, Wilma and Fred will have packed their
bags.
When we get to the airport, Nortons plane will have already arrived.
NOTE: We usually dont use be going to in future perfect. Its not really wrong
to do this, but it makes the verb so long that we generally avoid it. It sounds
clunky.
Negative Statements
will not have + past participle
Examples:
The mail usually comes at 1:00, so at 12:00 tomorrow, the mail probably
wont have arrived yet.
Dinner is taking longer to cook than I thought. When our guests arrive, I
will not have finished making dinner.
Were going to arrive at the bus station early. The bus to Tahoe will not
have left by the time we get there.


Questions17
(question word) + will + subject + have + past participle Examples:
How many cities will Ralph and Trixie have visited by the time they
finish their vacation?
Will you have washed the car when I get home?
17 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





134
More Stuff...about Future Perfect
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Future
Perfect

1. Future Perfect + a length of time has the same meaning as future perfect progressive.
When I use it with a length time, future perfect can also mean the same as
the future perfect progressive. For example, these two sentences mean the same
thing:
When we finally get to Los Angeles, I will have driven for six hours.
(future perfect)
When we finally get to Los Angeles, I will have been driving for six
hours. (future perfect progressive)
However, I cant use this meaning of future perfect with all verbs. See More Stuff...about Future Perfect Progressive on p138 for a rule about when to use future perfect to show this meaning.





135
Basic Stuff about Future Perfect Progressive
Future Perfect Progressive


Part 1:
Basic Stuff about Future Perfect Progressive

1. What does future perfect progressive mean?
Future perfect progressive is a verb tense that you might never use; its pretty rare and almost never necessary. Personally, I would bet $5.00 that I
havent used future perfect progressive in the last two years (except when I was teaching grammar).
Future perfect progressive has almost exactly the same meaning as past
perfect progressive; the difference is that it happens in the future, not the past.
We use future perfect progressive when we want to make it clear that the action will happen
*over time
*until (or almost until) something * in the future.
Thats one reason we dont use this tense very much; it doesnt happen
often that we need to say that something will happen over time until something in future. Another reason is that we can usually use other tenses instead of future perfect progressive.
If we draw a picture of future perfect progressive, it looks like this (see next page):





136
Basic Stuff about Future Perfect Progressive













Examples:
When I go to bed tonight, I will have been working on this darn verb tense
book for three hours. (I started working about half an hour ago, and
I will continue working until I go to bed later tonight.)
How long will Ralph have been driving a bus when he retires? (Ralph
probably started driving a bus in the past and will continue until he
retires.)
Fred said that dinner will start at 6:30. Well get there a little late,
probably at 6:45, so by the time we get there, they wont have been eating long.


2. How do I make future perfect progressive?
Statements
will have been + verb-ing
Examples:
I hope that when I get home tonight, my son will have been doing his
homework.
When June gets home, Ward will have been grilling the burgers for about
10 minutes.
Johns shift at work starts at 8:00 tonight, but Marshas starts at 6:00. That
means that Marsha will have already been working a couple of hours
before John arrives.





137
Basic Stuff about Future Perfect Progressive

NOTE: We usually dont use be going to in future perfect progressive. Its not exactly wrong to do this, but it makes the verb so long that we generally avoid it. It sounds clunky.
Negative Statements
will not have been + verb-ing
Example:
Dont worry. The movie starts at 7:00, and we should get to the theater at
about 7:05, so the movie wont have been playing very long when
we get there. We wont have missed much.
(Its hard to think of good examples for future perfect progressive! Like I
said, we dont use it very much. I hope one example is enough. If
you can think of some good examples of negative future perfect
progressive, please e-mail me and I may include them in the
website.)

Questions18
(question word) + will + subject + have been + verb-ing Examples:
How long will John have been driving that old piece of junk when he
finally gets his new car next week?
How many years will Barney have been working on his novel when he
finally finishes it?
Ill be going to the study group after I finish work, so Ill get there at about
6:45. Will you guys have been studying long before I arrive? Will
I miss much?







18 Remember : Questions that ask who did something or what did something don't
follow the normal question patterns. See Appendix: Questions about the Subject
on p142





138
More Stuff...about Future Perfect Progressive
Part 2:
More Stuff You Should Know about Future
Perfect Progressive
1. We usually use future perfect progressive with a length of
time.
Usually (not always, but usually) we use future perfect progressive with a
length of time. (For) + a length of time is most common; its less
common to use since + a point of time in this case.
Examples:
When she finishes the marathon, June will have been running for
three hours!
How long will you have been training in karate when you get your
black belt?

2. When should I use future perfect progressive?--A simple
rule
As we already learned, we use present perfect progressive to show that an
action will happen over time before something in the future. In many cases, we
can also use future perfect + a length of time to show the same idea. Usually,
both of these verb tenses sound correct and mean the same thing, but similarly to
past perfect progressive and present perfect progressive, sometimes only one of
them sounds correct. If you want to learn the complete story, you can check out
Extra Stuff about Future Perfect Progressive on p140, but if you follow the
simple rule below, youll always create correct sentences.
SIMPLE RULE
When you want to show that an action will happen over time before something in the future
*use present perfect progressive for most verbs
*use present perfect + a length of time for stative verbs
Examples:
Fred and Ethyls wedding anniversary is next Friday. On that day, they





139
More Stuff...about Future Perfect Progressive
will have been living as husband and wife for thirty years. (Live is
not a stative verb, so future perfect progressive is okay.)
Fred and Ethyls wedding anniversary is next Friday. On that day, they
will have been (will have been being) husband and wife for thirty
years. (Be is a stative verb, so I cant use future perfect progressive.
Instead, I use future perfect + a length of time.)





140
Extra Stuff about Future Perfect Progressive
Part 3:
Extra Stuff about Future Perfect Progressive
(You May Not Need to Know This)
1. I want to know more than the simple rule! How are future perfect and future perfect progressive different?
Future perfect progressive and future perfect + a length of time mean the same thing, and often we can use both tenses to show that an action will be
happening over time before something in the future. Sometimes, however, only one verb tense is okay. There are two times that this happens:
A. Stative verbs cant be used in progressive tenses, so they cant be
used with future perfect progressive.
Because we cant use stative verbs with progressive tenses, we have to use
future perfect + a length of time for them.
Example:
Chabot College was founded in 1961. In 2011, Chabot will have
been existing will have existed for 50 years! (Because exist is a
stative verb, I need to use future perfect + a length of time, not future perfect progressive.)
B. Some verbs sound strange to Americans when we use them with a
perfect tense + a length of time.
Example:
John and Marsha will have eaten will have been eating dinner for
about twenty minutes by the time we get there. (Eat dinner
sounds strange to Americans when we use future perfect + a
length of time. I need to use present perfect progressive.)
That raises a question: How do we know which verbs sound strange when
we use them in future perfect + a length of time? Theyre the same verbs that
sound strange when we use them with present perfect + a length of time. You can find them explained in Extra Stuff about Meaning #1 on p88.





141
Extra Stuff about Future Perfect Progressive
2. There are other ways we can say the same thing.
If we use other ways to make it clear that an action will happen over time until something in the future, then we can use other tenses and the meaning will be the same.
Examples:
I will have been working on this book when I go to bed tonight at 12:00.
(In this sentence, future perfect progressive shows that the action
work on this book will happen over time before the action go to bed.) I will have worked on this book for three hours when I go to bed tonight
at 12:00. (In this sentence, future perfect shows that the action work
on this book will happen before the action go to bed and the words
for three hours show that the action will happen over time.)
Ill be working on this book until I go to bed tonight at 12:00. (In this
sentence future progressive shows that the action will happen over
time and the word until shows that it will happen over time before I go to bed.)
Ill work on this book until I go to bed tonight at 12:00. (In this sentence
the word until shows that the action will happen over time before I go to bed.)
These sentences feel a bit different to a native speaker of English, but
they all mean about the same thing: Ill work on the book over time until I go to
bed.

3. For and Since with future perfect progressive
When we use future perfect progressive with a time clause, we usually use
for + a length of time (or just a length of time) instead of since + a point in time.
Examples:
I will have been working on this darn verb tense guide since 8:00
for three hours before I go to bed tonight.
When June gets home, Ward will have been grilling hamburgers
since 6:00 for about 10 minutes.





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