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Grammar Tutorial – Tenses

Verbs play an important role in all sentences. Here is what they do.
  1. The verbs tell what action is taken or state of being is described. I explain this in Lesson 3.
  2. The tenses announce when the action takes place – now (present); some time ago (past); or some time in the future (future). Think of it like this:

  1. The verbs change depending on whether they refer
a)     to oneself or ourselves (I, we) which is called first person
b)    to person or persons spoken to (you) which is called second person
c)     to a person, place or thing spoken about (she, he, it) which is called third person
  1. The verbs also change when they apply to one person (called singular) or to more than one person (called plural).
Notice how the verbs and pronouns (which take the place of nouns) change from singular to plural … and for 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person.
Let’s read the following Chart together. It shows the simple tenses and the pronouns used with each tense.
Verb ‘Be’ Present Tense Past Tense Future Tense
First Person singular I am I was I will be
Second Person Singular You are You were You will be
Third Person Singular He/she/it is He/she/it was He/ she/it will be
First Person Plural We are We were We shall be
Second Person Plural You are You were You will be
Third Person Plural They are They were They will be
How can you keep all these rules in mind every time you use a verb in a sentence … which is every time you write a sentence?
In the following story, I demonstrate how to apply these rules. In the sidebar, Verb Tenses, I name the subject and verb used in each sentence. In the Think-aloud, I explain why I used each subject and verbs.
First, let’s read the story together. Then we will read it paragraph by paragraph. With each paragraph, we will read the Think-aloud comments which explain why I chose each verb tense.

 Never Say Never

 

I love my cat Moggie. She is charming, loving and totally loyal. Look at her coat … her beautiful multi-colored fur. I love her soft and fluffy fur coat. Just listen to her purr as she curls up on your lap. It is heavenly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three days ago, Moggie walked away from our tent in Jasper Park in the middle of the night and never returned for days. I practically grew up with Moggie and I cannot be without her for a single day. I cannot eat or sleep without her. Will I NEVER see her again?

Just image how Moggie feels without me? I’m sure she is very lonely. She needs me to hold her, feed her and put her to bed. Is she lost? Has someone taken her home? I hope she is not hurt. Will she find her way back to our tent in the Park? Is she out there under the tall trees close to our tent? Does she remember where we set up our tent? Will I ever find her? All these questions are racing through my mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For three days, my Dad, Mom, brother and I searched for Moggie. We searched in the bush around our tent. We did not find any clues to help us in our search. Dad drove to the nearest town and asked people if they had seen a cat that matched the picture we had of Moggie. Mom placed a lost & found notice in the local paper. The local radio station gave a detailed description of Moggie. Nobody had seen our cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the fourth day, our family, without Moggie, sat down for dinner. Nobody was hungry but we ate something so that we could continue our search. Just as we finished our dessert, I heard a faint ‘mew’. I listened up. Was that Moggie calling for me or was I just imagining things again? I listened again and stared into the direction of the sound of a cat. You will not believe it. There was Moggie running out of the forest towards us. She darted straight at me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moggie looked healthy without a scratch on her. What had she done? Nobody will ever know. I guess she just went for a walk … a very long walk. But, she came back. I was so happy I drew a picture of Moggie and myself.

Verb Tenses

 Paragraph 1

I – 1st person singular

love – present tense

she – 3rd person singular

is – present tense

Surprise – no subject: ‘you’ is assumed as the subject

(you) – 2nd person singular/plural

Look – present tense

I – 1st person

Love – present tense

Surprise – no subject: ‘you’ is assumed as the subject

(you) – 2nd person singular/plural

listen – present tense

she – 3rd person singular

curls – present tense

It – 3rd person singular

Is – present tense

 

Paragraph 2

Moggie – 3rd person singular

walked, returned – past tense

I – 1st person singular

grew – past tense

I – 1st person singular

be – present

I – 1st person singular

eat, sleep – present tense

I – 1st person singular

will see – future tense

 

Paragraph 3

Moggie – 3rd person singular

feels – present tense

she – 3rd person singular

is – present tense

she – 3rd person singular

needs – present tense

she – 3rd person singular

is – present tense

I  1st person singular

hope – present tense

she – 1st person singular

find – present tense

she – 1st person singular

is – present tense

she – 3rd person singular

remember – present tense

I – 1st person singular

will find – future tense

 

Paragraph 4

Dad, Mom, brother – 3rd person singular

Searched – past tense

I – 1st person singular

searched – past tense

Dad – 3rd person singular

drove, asked – past tense

Mother – 3rd person singular

placed – past tense

radio station – 3rd person singular

gave – past tense

 

Paragraph 5

family – 3rd person singular

sat – past tense

nobody – 3rd person singular

was – past tense

we – 1st person plural

ate – past tense

we – 1st person plural

finished – past tense

I – 1st person singular

heard – past tense

that – 3rd person singular/plural

was – past tense

I – 1st person singular

was – past tense

I – 1st person singular

listened, stared – past tense

you – 2nd person singular/plural

will believe – future tense

Moggie – 3rd person singular

was – past tense

she – 3rd person singular

darted – past tense

 

Paragraph 6

Moggie – 3rd person singular

looked – past tense

she – 3rd person singular

had done – past tense

nobody – 3rd person singular

will know – future tense

I – 1st person singular

guess – present tense

she – 3rd person singular

came – past tense

1st person singular

was – past tense

1st person singular

drew – past tense

Writer’s Think-aloud

 The writer, who is the 1st person in the story, records her reflections in this column.

 

In the first paragraph, I introduce myself, but mostly the cat, Moggie. I use the present tense because this paragraph describes the present. I refer to myself as ‘I’ and to my cat as ‘she’. I started one sentence with the verb ‘Look’. The subject is implies or understood to be ‘you’. I had to use ‘it’ in the last sentence because I was referring to an experience – which requires the third person singular ‘it’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the second paragraph, I begin to write about something that happened a few days ago – the disappearance of my cat. So, I had to use the past tense. I still have to use the present tense for some of the things I want to say about myself. I finish the paragraph by talking about the future. So, I have to use the future tense. Since I spoke mostly about myself, I used the singular personal pronoun ‘I’.

 

 

 

 

 

In the third paragraph, I talk about my cat – how she is managing without me. I am back to writing in the present. In the second last sentence, I wonder about whether I will ever see my cat again. So, I have to use the future tense. In the last sentence, I use a complicated verb which I cannot explain … it just sounds right. Since I talk mostly about my cat in the third paragraph, I use the third person singular ‘she’. I end the paragraph wondering about the future. I use the singular future tense, ‘Will I’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the fourth paragraph, I talk about how for three days we tried to find my cat. Hence, I wrote in the past tense. I used the third person singular to write about how my family was involved in searching for my cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the fifth paragraph, I describe my surprise when my cat showed up at our tent. Again, this happened in the past. Therefore I used the past tense. There is one exception when I use the expression ‘You will not believe it’ to express my surprise. I used the second person singular/plural – you. I wrote mostly about Moggie and myself. Hence, I used the first person singular for myself and the third person singular for Moggie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the sixth and closing paragraph, I use a mixture of tenses as I was thinking about how Moggie felt when she was ‘lost’. Again, since I wrote mostly about Moggie and myself, I used the first person singular for myself and the third person singular for Moggie.

 

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 Try the following activities to find out how well you understand verb tenses:
After you have watched this Lesson, go to www.sponsoravillage.ca, for the NOTES, ASSIGNMENT and ANSWER KEY on TENSES.
Go to GRAMMAR in the top navigation bar; go to TENSES and move to the right to SIMPLE TENSES – click on it.
To send any questions you may have about grammar, go to www.sponsoravillage.ca and click on
ASK Dr. OTTO. I will reply to your questions as quickly as possible.