Friday, March 21, 2014

IELTS Training: A Lesson on Verb Tenses

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Speaking and Writing are two language core skills where grammar is evaluated. Without grammar, it is impossible to create sentences and be understood. Hence, grammar is very important in learning English. The importance of grammar is evident in language schools as grammar is included in any English language course. For non-native speakers, learning English grammar is difficult as it can be very technical. However, the advantage in learning grammar makes the candidate express his or her ideas better in both oral and written context. 

For starters, learning the verb tenses is a good foundation in creating effective sentences. Verb tenses show when the action happens, happened and will happen. In the English grammar, we have 12 different verb tenses. Let us find out what these verb tenses are and how they are used in a sentence.

1. Simple Present

Pattern: subject + am/is/are or subject + verb (s/es)

The simple present is used to:

a. show habitual actions

  • I always take a shower in the evening.
  • She works here every day.

b. facts or generalizations

  • The moon revolves around the sun.
  • Rain falls from the sky.

2. Simple Past

Pattern: subject + was/were or subject + past form of the verb

The simple past is used to show a completed action in the past. The action started and finished in the past. In addition, we use the simple past tense to talk about dead people.


  • My mother did the laundry last weekend.
  • Mozart wrote a lot of masterpieces.

3. Simple Future

Pattern: subject + will + base verb or subject + am/is/are going to + base verb

The simple future shows that an action will or going to happen in the future. It has not happened yet.

  • I will go to New Orleans next month.
  • She will be arriving soon.

4. Present Progressive

Pattern: subject + am/is/are + verb~ing

The present progressive is for actions that are happening at the time of speaking.


  • I am currently writing a new novel about my travels.
  • She is working at her desk at the moment. She seems very busy.

5. Past Progressive

Pattern: subject + was/were + verb ~ing

This verb tense is used to show that an action in the past was happening was interrupted by a shorter action.


  • Rico was cooking dinner when Honey arrived.
  • They were answering the test when the bell rang.

6. Future Progressive

Pattern: subject + will be +verb~ing

Subject + am/is/are going to be + verb~ing

This verb tense shows that an ongoing action in the future will be interrupted by another future action.


  • The chef will be preparing the food tonight when I arrive.
  • I will be studying tonight for the exam, so don’t call me.

7. Present Perfect

Pattern: subject + has/have + past participle

The present perfect is used to show that an action has started in the past and has a result in the present time.


  • I have washed the car. It is now clean and shiny.
  • My sisters have been to Canada for three times. They like it very much.

8. Past Perfect

Pattern: subject + had + past participle of the verb

The past perfect is used to show that a past action happened before another action in the past.


  • Joel had had a car before he sold it to our family.
  • I had studied Spanish before I went to Spain.

9. Future Perfect

Pattern: subject + will have been + past participle

subject + am going to have + past participle

This verb tense focuses on an action that will happen before another action in the future.


  • I will have finished cooking dinner for Macky before he arrives tonight.
  • By the time I complete this course, I will have taken five tests.

10. Present Perfect Progressive

Pattern: subject + has/have been + verb~ing

To show that an action has started in the past and is still happening until now, use the present perfect progressive.


  • She has been painting the walls for two hours. She really looks tired now.
  • I have been teaching Koreans for 8 years. I like what I am doing.

11. Past Perfect Progressive

Pattern: subject + had been + verb~ing

This shows that an action had started in the past and continued until another action in the past.


  • They had been talking about me when I arrived.
  • Mr. Kim had been teaching in the academy before he left for the UK.

12. Future Perfect Progressive

Pattern: subject + will have been + verb~ing

subject + am/is/are going to have been + verb~ing

The future perfect progressive is used to show that an action will be happening until another future action.


  • They will be cleaning the house for six hours before the visitors arrive.
  • How long will you have been travelling before your trip ends?

Verb tenses are confusing; hence, it is a must to be familiar with all the rules. Effective use of these verb tenses will better express your ideas in your essay.

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