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    SFL/ METU October 2015

    Dept. of B.E.


    (Tenses, the Passive & Forms of used to)


    Students Copy

    Study the given explanations and examples on the tenses and write your own example(s) in the blanks provided.



    The present simple tense is used :

    1. to refer to long-term or permanent situations. e.g. They live in Brighton.

    It rains a lot in this part of the world.


    2. to refer to general truths such as scientific facts. This use is particularly characteristic of scientific and technical English used to describe activities, characteristics or appearance.

    e.g. Nine planets orbit the sun.

    Broken bones in adults dont heal as fast as they do in children. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    3. to refer to regular, repeated or habitual actions, often with adverbs of frequency (always, usually, often, sometimes, never, etc.) and expressions of frequency (every, once a, etc.).

    e.g. I always spend Christmas with my family.

    Share prices usually change on a daily basis but often by very little. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    4. (with certain verbs) to express thoughts, feelings, impressions and immediate reactions. Note: With certain verbs, e.g. think, feel, there is a difference in meaning between the present simple and

    present continuous. There is a list of these verbs on page 8.

    e.g. I think you are wrong. (opinion)

    Im thinking about what you said earlier. (mental process). e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    5. in time clauses introduced by when, as soon as, once, before, after, until, by the time (that), the moment (that). e.g. We will let you know about the goods in stock as soon as we hear from the suppliers.

    He wont be satisfied until he gets an apology. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    6. to talk about future plans with reference to timetables / schedules. e.g. The plane arrives at Heathrow Airport at 12.30 a.m. tomorrow.

    The concert starts at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday evening.


    7. in reviews, sports commentaries, dramatic narrative and when reporting what has been heard or told (with say/ tell/ hear).

    e.g. Ronaldinho passes the ball to Deco but he misses...

    I hear you have decided to move.


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    PRESENT CONTINUOUS The present continuous tense is used :

    1. to talk about actions which are happening at the moment of speaking, to talk about changing

    /developing situations or to talk about present trends, even if these are long-lasting. Common adverbial

    expressions with this form are now, currently, still, at the moment and these days.

    e.g. Stop that! I am reading something.

    The country is slowly coming out of the economic recession.

    Nowadays, more and more students are making use of on-line activities and exercises.


    2. to refer to actions or situations which are temporary.

    e.g. They are living in a rented house (temporarily for a short period). Im feeding the neighbors cat this week while shes in hospital. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    3. to express pre-arranged future actions.

    e.g. Were seeing a musical at the theatre next week. (Weve got the tickets.) Im meeting John at 6.30 tomorrow. (Weve made an appointment.) e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    Note: Some verbs do not usually occur in continuous tenses. See the list on page 8.


    The present perfect simple tense is used :

    1. to refer to actions or states which began in the past and have continued up till now. Since is used to express the starting point, and for is used to express its duration.

    e.g. Theyve been friends for over 35 years. He has lived here since he finished university.


    2. in addition to since and for, the following expressions are often used: lately, recently, so far, until now,




    the last

    the past






    e.g. Have you seen him recently?

    Has the sports centre increased its membership over the last year?

    No agreement on passing the new law has been reached so far.


    3. common adverbs with this form are just, already, before, ever, never, yet, still, often, seldom. e.g. Theyve already finished writing the report. Ive never eaten raw fish. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    4. to refer to an action or state which was completed in the past but where the time is unknown or unimportant. The present result is generally more important than when or how the action or event occurred.

    e.g. The taxi has arrived (its now here). The avalanche has devastated the skiing industry in the area (The industry is still having problems).


    5. often used in news broadcasts and reports to introduce a story, before moving into past tenses to give the details.

    e.g. Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere has died at the age of 77 in a London hospital. He came to London in e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

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    6. in time clauses introduced by when, as soon as, after, before, until, once, by the time(that), the moment (that) to describe an action which will be completed before the action in the main clause.

    e.g. Well make the announcement once everyone has arrived. The builders will start work as soon as the plans have been approved.


    7. used after superlatives, e.g. the best/worst, the greatest, and ordinal numbers, e.g. the first, the second, often followed by ever.

    e.g. Its the worst sports program I have ever seen and the first I have ever written to complain about. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________


    In some cases there is little difference between the two forms.

    The choice between the simple and continuous form may be determined by the nature of the action.

    e.g. Ive lived here all my life. OR: Ive been living here all my life.

    Contrast this with:

    e.g. Ouch! Ive cut my finger (The accident is the work of a moment). Im not crying. Ive been cutting up onions.

    1. The simple form suggests that an action is complete while the continuous form suggests that it is still going on.

    e.g. Ive painted the kitchen (The job is finished). Ive been painting the kitchen (The job is probably unfinished). e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    2. The simple form must be used when the actual quantity of actions or finished products is mentioned.

    e.g. Ive called you several times this morning. Where have you been? e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    3. The continuous form tends to emphasize how long an action has continued. e.g. Its been raining all day. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    4. The continuous form may suggest that an action is temporary rather than long-term or permanent. e.g. Hes been staying with his sister till he finds somewhere to live. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    5. The continuous form can be used to explain a present result. The focus is on the activity rather than

    the result.

    e.g. This test result is much better. Its clear that youve been revising. e.g.____________________________________________________________________________________

    Note: Some verbs do not usually occur in continuous tenses. See the list on page 8.

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    The past simple tense is used:

    1. to refer to completed actions or events which took place at a particular time or over a period of time in the past. A past time reference is either given or understood from the context.

    e.g. Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 BC.

    We lived just outside Oxford in the nineties.


    2. to refer to repeated or habitual actions in the past. e.g. He went for a walk every day before lunch.

    When I was a child, we always went to Dover for our summer holidays.