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Importance of Tenses in the English Language

Tenses are the most important part of the English language and can rightly be termed as the backbone of the language. Your learning about English is incomplete unless you are adept at using the right form of tenses in your English usage. A slight mistake in the use of tenses may change the meaning of a sentence completely and might as well, land you in trouble. 

To understand exactly what tenses are, let’s understand their etymology. The word tense is derived from the Latin word “tempus” which means “time”. Tenses are mainly used to describe the time of occurrence of an action or the state of being and the verbs are changed accordingly. They play an important role in constructing meaningful sentences. 

Tenses are broadly classified into three kinds:

– Past

– Present

– Future

Each of the above is further classified into Simple, Continuous, and Perfect. 

Let’s have a complete look at these tenses. When to use, how to use, and example.

1.Present Simple:

When: for anything that generally/always happens and is true. 

How: Use the original form of the word.

Example: I love dancing.

2. Present Continuous

When: For anything that is happening in a continuous fashion, right now.

How: Use helping verb i.e. is/are + Verb + ing.

Example: It is raining since morning. 

3. Present perfect

When: For any action that happened in the very recent past.

How: Helping verb has/have + Verb ending with en/ed

Example: I have taken my medicine. 

4. Past Simple

When: For anything that happened in the past. 

How: Verb + ed

Example: Harry lived in the cupboard under the stairs.

5. Past Continuous

When: For any action that was happening continuously in the past. 

How: Helping verb was/were + verb + ing

Example: I was studying at the University. 

6. Past Perfect

When: For any action that happened in the past and was completed then.

How: Helping verb had+ Verb + ed/en

Example: I had finished my dinner by the time he arrived. 

7. Future Simple

When: For anything that is going to happen in the future.

How: Helping verb ‘will’ +verb

Example: I will reach Delhi in 2 hours by the morning flight. 

8. Future Continuous

When: For action that will be happening continuously in the future.

How: Helping verb ‘will be’ + verb + ing

Example: I will be visiting my parents this month. 

To improve clarity in your English communication, you ought to have a command over tenses usage. Here are a few tips to help you improve your knowledge of tenses: 

  1. Understand and learn the rules. By heart a few examples of each type. This will help you recall the rules when needed. Learn the exceptions.
  2. Practice writing sentences of each type as per rules. Practice as many sentences as you can. The more you practice, the more you get the rules of tenses imbibed subconsciously in your mind rather than mugging them up. 
  3. Get English into your daily life. Read a lot across different genres, practice writing on different topics, watch English shows, documentary, movies, etc. The more you expose yourself to English, the more you get the rules right without thinking about them. 

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Vaishali Pandey

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