TENSES IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE
The present simple
-Present habitual actions. Whenever I go to Tesco, I spend too much money.
-Permanent situations (always true or true for a long time). My uncle lives in California, but he works in Amsterdam.
-Scheduled, timetabled or fixed events. The match starts at 9:30 tomorrow evening.
The past simple
-Actions or events, which are finished and:
a) Took place at a specific time and place in the past. Judy went to Mexico in 1956.
b) Took place over a specific period in the past. She lived in Mexico between 1956 and 1967.
c) Were habitual during a specific period in the past. When Judy lived in Mexico, she ate dinner at about 10 p.m. Habitual or repeated actions in the past can be accompanied by a frequency expression. When she worked in Mexico as a waitress, she usually got home at 9 o’ clock.
-Refers to future actions or events, which have already been arranged. Are you doing anything interesting at the weekend? We are spending the summer with Judy’s son in Mexico. We are leaving tomorrow.
a) A continuous event in the past (which may or may not be unfinished). Dick was working for the CIA when I knew him.
b) A temporary event in the past, which was in progress, before another event took place. I’ll always remember what I was doing when I heard about Princess Diana’s death.
c) An event, which started before another event in the past and continued. When Brandon and Kelly eventually turned up, all the other guests were already eating their desserts.
d) Simultaneous, continuos actions in the past. While I was trying to phone her, she was trying to phone me!
e) Repeated actions occurring over a period of time in the past. Before I got my own flat, I was always arguing with my parents.
-Past event or situation, which occurred before another past event or situation. I‘d been awake for quite a while before the alarm rang. Although I arrived on time, Mike had already left.
Past perfect continuous
-We use the continuous form, when we want to emphasise the continuity and duration of this event. Brain had been trying to get the job for over a year before he was offered his present one.
a) An event that started in the past continues in the present and may continue into the future. My parents have been married for over twenty years.
b) A recent event in the past, which has relevance to the present. Your taxi has arrived.
c) An event, which happened in the past without saying when it happened (because we do not consider this is important). Have you seen Jill? I’ve read Hamlet but I’ve never seen it performed.
d) An event, which happened in the past but in unfinished time (with expressions like today, this month, this year, etc.) I didn’t see Tim last week, bit I’ve been out with him twice already this week.
Present perfect continuous
a) Emphasising the continuity and duration of the event. The Smiths have been living in the same house ever since they got married.
b) Indicating that a continuous activity in the recent past is responsible for the present situation. This activity may or not may be unfinished. I’m not crying; I’ve been peeling onions.
If + present…present or imperative
-Conditions that are always true. If means when or whenever. If Mike reads on the train, he feels sick.
-Scientific facts. If you put paper on the fire, it burns quickly.
-Giving instruction. If the phone rings, answer it.
If + present simple…will future
-A possible condition and its probable result in the future. If we leave now, we won’t need to hurry. If we don’t leave now, we’ll miss the plane.
-Promises, warnings, threats and offers. If you do that again, I’ll tell your mother! (=a threat) Careful! If you touch that, you’ll explode! (=a warning) I’ll get you a boyfriend if you like. (=an offer) If you sleep with me tonight, I’ll love you forever! (=a promise)
If + past simple…would/could/might
-Speculating about imaginary or improbable situations (the implication is that the conditions will not be met). You’d feel healthier if you did more exercise. If you went to Africa, you’d have to have several injections. (It’s not likely you’ll go to Africa, bud it is possible.)
-Unreal situation and its probable result. If I were taller, I’d play basketball. (Being taller is impossible for me.) If I were the president of my country, I’d increase taxation.
-Giving advice. If I were you, I wouldn’t drive so fast.
If + past perfect…would/might/could have + past participle
-Looks back at the past and speculates about possibilities which didn’t happen. If I’d had your address, I’d have sent you a postcard. (I didn’t have your address, so I didn’t send you a postcard.) You might not have crashed into the bus if you’d been driving more slowly.