Monday, April 18, 2005

Verb Tenses - Mystery Solved

Remember I had that hated interview for a CELTA course in Cape Town, the one where the guy wanted to know a.....smoker. Answer: heavy. Remember? Well, in the grammar poortion of today's ;ecture we dealt with it, and it's actually quite simple:

There are 12 tenses:
present, past and future x each of the following:
- simple (3)
- continuous (progressive) (3)
- perfect (3)
- perfect progressive (continuous) (3)

Simple: merely simple forms of the verb in present, past and future:
I drink milk/I am happy/I eat food/I am a teacher
I drank milk/I was happy/I ate food/I was a teacher
I will drink milk/I will be happy/I will eat eat food/I will be a teacher

Simple is basically the be verb form in present , past and future, but in the next tense, Progressive (continuous) it is be + ing.
I am drinking milk/I am enjoying the movie/I am eating food/I am teaching you
I was drinking milk/I was enjoying the movie/I was eating food/I was teaching yesterday
I will be drinking milk/I will be enjoying the movie in an hour/I will be eating food with you this evening/I will be teaching tomorrow

Perfect: have/had + past particple (pp = know - known/ pp = know - knew)
I have eaten that since I was five/I have enjoyed that movie as long as I can remember/I have taught you for a while now
I had enjoyed that movie, until the part where I vomitted/I had taught English for a while, then I changed directions
I will have studied for a week by the end of the month.

Perfect Progressive is a combination of have/had + pp + be + ing
I have been eating all day
I had been eating all day when you found me
I will have been eating all day by this time tomorrow

It's easy when you know, but when you don't, it's a mystery. Another flick at Mick Riggs: today the entire class spent by far the most time debating just this area of grammar. It goes to show that almost no one automatically knows about this, and I am not sure that they must. I agree that it is good to know, that we as teachers should, but it is being very unreasonable, and daft, really, to suggest that the seat of English lies here. If you want to confuse, bore and terrify students, all at once, (or teachers for that matter), focus on verb tenses ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

No comments: