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June 27, 2013

Verb Tenses

Verb tenses in any languages can be confusing. In English, as one might imagine...

...a simple grammatical essential like verb tenses can be baffling beyond belief.

I work with ESL and native English speakers; ESL students tend to have difficulty and make frequent errors with verbs - native speakers tend to just give up - and end up making more mistakes than ESL students. And, what is worse is that these usage errors become language usage habits. And even worse than that, these errors become shared language habits.

Clusters of people, families, even neighborhoods and regions take these usage errors as 'standard' and become isolated - but also self-confirming communities. If you grow up in one of these areas, you won't know (or perhaps even believe) that you are in error until you go somewhere else - like college.

Of course many people from these areas don't travel much and don't go far away for college and become even more self-referential in their spoken grammar.

In a sense, verb tense should be simple; past, present and future are direct and basic ways to organize time.

It is the more subtle and specific uses that make us crazy; how do you describe that something will happen after something else that hasn't happened yet?

An example might be "After I get paid, I will pay my rent", another example might be "In November, I will have been working here for six years".

As you can see, a simple past, present or future tense may not always work.

Just to be certain that your grammar regarding verbs tenses is correct take a look at this chart - http://esl.about.com/library/lessons/blgr_tenses.htm.

Be sure to send us any language usages or historical nuances that interest you, and be sure to let us know what it is about language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.


Also: for the first time in several years, Morf is available this July and August (and possibly the first half of September) to visit your school or program. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com. As you can probably guess, Morf can talk or teach about just about anything related to language learning, linguistics and cultural changes.

Posted by mmorf at June 27, 2013 02:38 PM


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