Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Present simple and other tenses

The Queen's English
Debby Kean

Present simple:
This use is so called, because it's very simple! No, that's not why it's called Present Simple, but as can be seen, it is simple. Maybe it is the first thing a learner knows - “I am a girl” for instance. A baby learns her name, she learns to say Mama and Daddy, and then she learns “I am hungry”. “Eat!” (she means “I (want to, I am, I have) eat/eating/eaten.
You will have learned that in your native language...
Present simple is used in the following situations.
To refer to a regular repeated habit : “We swim every day”
To refer to a future event, (used in temporal/conditional subordinate clauses): “If she comes I'll stop writing”
To refer to a general truth: “Many flowers blossom in spring”
To refer to a fixed event - 'time table tense': “The plane leaves at 10.00”
To refer to events in the past (often used in vivid headlines): “Whina Cooper dies” (This is known as the “historic present”. Whina Cooper was an important person in New Zealand's recent history. )
Past simple
This is used to refer to an event in the past that happened at a particular time: “She left at 5 o'clock”.
Future tenses
Are also very simple - English does not have a future tense as such. What if we want to talk about the future? We need to use modal auxiliaries such as the verbs to have, to be, and would, should and must/might.
To express a decided intention: “We will go swimming every day”
To express a hope with a condition: “If he sends me a text message with his address then I'll be able to send him a birthday present”.
To express a rule and the means of complying: “In order to sit NCEA level 3 physics, you must be enrolled and pay your exam fee by the 7th of October this year”.

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