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How many verb tenses are there in your language? 6, 23, 4 or 16?

It’s a sure thing, that there are major grammatical differences between your language and the one you’re trying to learn.

You might be surprised that some languages don’t have verb tenses. Mandarin Chinese is one of them. Instead, they have aspects, mood makers and vocabulary to express time.

Tense and aspect are important means for organizing discourse.

Many linguists exclude future as a pure tense in English language, because the auxiliary will may be used to express volition.

In English grammar there are 2 main tenses: Past and Present, and 4 aspects.

Aspect is a verb form that indicates time-related characteristics, such as the completion, duration, or repetition of an action.

Let’s explain the aspects with the help of the verb “to go”:

to go - is the indefinite aspect. It indicates the repetition of an action.

to be going - is the continuous aspect. It indicates the duration of an action.

to have gone - is the perfect aspect. It indicates the completion of an action.

to have been going - is the perfect continuous aspect. It indicates the duration and the possible completion of an action.

Ken Hyde from the University of Delaware English Language Institute said that it’s better to understand grammar tenses as part of a gestalt rather than as separate from each other.

The unbeatable way of learning the verb tenses is doing a lot of exercises! Not in the gym, but on the web-sites below:

islcollective.com

speakspeak.com

nonstopenglish.com

Of course, these brief remarks about the function of tense and aspect barely touch the tip of the iceberg.

It's important to clearly understand what type of action you want to express, before you say something.

However, some people are supporting the following idea.

Nigel Caplan from Cambridge University Press stated: "There is no good reason to learn how to master every possible verb tense in English. In fact, for the purposes of academic writing, three tenses—present simple, past simple, and present perfect—are sufficient." 

Do you agree?

Regardless of the answer, please, take a look and download the Chart of Grammar Tenses!

It will come in handy!

Posted in: ASA College, Blog

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