Choosing the correct tense is tricky! • There are many verb tenses in English. • How do you choose the right tense?
Yes, signals! • Think about a traffic signal. • What does red tell us? • What does yellow tell us? • What does green tell us?
Signals tell us what to do… • Red tells us to stop. • Yellow tells us to slow down. • Green tells us to go.
Signals for the Simple Present Tense include… • Adverbs of Frequency (sometimes, never, rarely, etc.) • Phrases like every day, once a year, twice a week, at night, in the morning, etc.
When you see, hear, say, or write these words in a sentence, you are talking about habits. The correct tense for habits is simple present tense!
For example… • I alwayswash my face in the morning. • She walks her dog every day. • He usuallybrings his lunch to school.
Don’t do this: X I always wash my face every day. • Don’t combine an adverb of frequency with a time signal that means the same thing. Use only one of these signals in a sentence. OK: I alwayswash my face. OK: I wash my face every day.
Don’t do this, either: X They don’t never take the bus. • Don’t combine a negative verb with the adverb never. OK: They nevertake the bus. OK: They don’t evertake the bus.
What about the Present Progressive Tense? (Does it have signals, too?)
Signals for the Present Progressive Tense include words and phrases that talk about right now. For example: • right now or now • at the moment • currently
When you see, hear, say, or write these words in a sentence, you are talking about actions that are happening at that moment. The correct tense for these actions is the present progressive tense!
For example… • At the moment, you are watching a PowerPoint presentation. • Marcie is talkingright now. • Currently, this class is learning how to choose the correct tense.
Don’t do this: X He at the momentis sleeping. • Don’t put the signal between the subject and the verb. • Put the signal at the beginning or the end of the sentence. OK:At the moment, he is sleeping. OK: He is sleepingat the moment.
Don’t do this, either: X He not sleeping right now. X He not right now sleeping. • To form the negative, you must use the negative after “be”. OK: He is not sleepingright now. OK: Right now, he is not sleeping.
Learning about time signals will help you choose the correct tense. Good luck!