A Meaning Approach to Learning Verbs (cont’d)
4c. Inappropriate sequence of verb tense
Students usually have problems with the perfect tenses. Sometimes present perfect and simple past are mixed up. Let’s take a meaning approach to understanding them.
Perfect (have + p.p.)
Whether “have/has”, “had” or “will have” should be used depends on the reference time. For example, when the reference time is present, present perfect should be used.
1. Express actions that have finished before a reference time
James has just posted the letter.
Helen had handed in the proposal before last Friday.
Peter will have painted the wall before next Tuesday.
2. Express actions that started before a reference time and have continued until the reference time
Christine has lived in London for five years (since five years ago until now).
Joseph had never seen such a beautiful night scene before he went to Hong Kong.
They will have waited for over two weeks by then.
3. Express finished actions that have significance in a later reference time. This is subjective. Using, for example, present perfect or simple past depends on whether you want to stress the significance of the action in the reference time.
I have finished my homework (so I can hand it in now.)
Had you passed the English test before you studied in the US?
I will have arrived home when the delivery comes at 3 o’clock tomorrow.
1. Express finished/habitual actions that happened in the past. No stress is put on the significance of the action in a reference time.
Elizabeth travelled to Paris in 1999.
Tom ate an egg every morning when he was young.
Perfect and simple in the same sentence
When perfect and simple are used together in a sentence, the action in perfect happens earlier than that in simple.
Since the electricity had blacked out, they lit candles.
(The blackout happened before they lit the candles.)
4d. Mismatch of temporal element and verb form
Temporal elements restrict the time frame and dictate the tense we need to use.
The “No error” option
I have mentioned in a previous article that many students find the ”no error” option tricky. This is particularly so when it comes to verbs and tenses. Remember Identifying Sentence Errors tests your ability to identify grammatical mistakes but not to perfect the sentence. Don’t overly correct the sentence. If there is an error, it must be one of the underlined and lettered options. If you always find verbs difficult, you can check other easier options first and consider later whether the verb form is correct.
If you have any questions or enquires, feel free to visit my facebook page: www.facebook.com/allylo.english.
(Next Tue: Identifying Sentence Errors cont'd)