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Grammar - tenses

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PAST SIMPLE: is used to describe finished actions and event in the past or past habits and states.

PAST CONTINUOS: is used to describe action in progress in the past and giving information about the back

ground situation so it often used with the past simple to describe another action in progress. It is also used in participle clauses introduced by before, after and while.

It can be used to describe a repeated action in the past that annoys the subject and finally a polite or uncertain meaning introduced by think, hope and wonder.

PAST PERFECT: is used to describe a past action that happens before another past action (earlier)

used to is used to describe past habits or states that are no longer true and so make a strong contrast with the


would: is used to describe a person's typical activities in the past (repeated action)

PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE : is used to describe recent events, that happened in the past but have a result

in the present infact we also used just to underline the idea of recentness. It

can also be used to describe event that haven't happened with the negative

form and yet. It can be used to describe indefinite actions that refers to our

life up to now (firs, second third . ..time).

It can describe a state or a repeated action that lasts up to the present.

PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOS: it can be used a state which lasts up to the present. The difference

between Present Perfect simple and Present Perfect Continuous is little: we use the first if our attention is on present result, we use the second if our attention is on the action in progress. The verbs wait, sit, lie, stay prefer it. It represents that an action is not completed or finished recently

PREDICTION: to make predictions will is used with a time expression. But it can also be

used for instant decisions made at the time of speaking.

FUTURE:  INTENTION: to describe a present intention going to is used. This is something that you

have already decided to do. But it can also used for predictions when we can see the cause of the event.

S: to describe definite and fixed arrangements the Present Continuous is used.

The arrangement are often social arrangements or appointments. For fixed

event based on timetable, programme or calendar, can be also used the

Present Simple.

FUTURE PERFECT: it looks back from a point in the future (By the time . .)

PRESENT SIMPLE: is used to describe habits and routines with a frequency adverb. It can also describe

permanent facts in science and geography; or to make a summary of the events in a narrative (film or book).

PRESENT CONTINUOS: is used to describe action which are in progress, temporary or not yet finished.

It can also describe an habit that happens over a short period of time (with a time  

expression); or a single action that is repeated and which we complain and exaggerate. Some verbs called State Verbs aren't used in the continuos form like:

be, believe, cost, depend, have, know, think, understand.


When we report a speech:

Tenses move back in time except for the Past Perfect that remains the same. In complex sentences only the first verb is changed.

Some words referring to people, places and time change like pronouns.

Questions are reported using if or the same question word.

The polite question are reported using ask and the usual tense change rules.

Commands are reported with tell and the infinitive (say+to , tell+/)

Requests are reported with ask and the infinitive.

We can paraphrase if is impossible or unnecessary to report every word spoken





First Conditional: it describes a real or likely situation, this means that there is a real probability that a thing

will happen.

Second Conditional: it describes an unreal or imaginary situation, this means that there is less probability

that a thing will happen. The situation and its result are imagined.

Third Conditional: it describes an unreal or imaginary situation in the past, this means that there is an

improbably action


Simple Present Future (Probably)

Simple Past Conditional (Less Probably)

Past Perfect Perfect Conditional (Improbably)

They are used to describe an action which I wish that wasn't happen

ABOUT THE PRESENT: I whish + the past simple

Wishes:   ABOUT THE PAST: I whish + the past perfect

It also referred to something that is generally difficult or impossible


ABOUT THE FUTURE: could or have to

Whish + would: is used to refer to something that we would like to happen or when we want to complain about

a bad habit.

Whish + conditional: is used to refer an action that I don't accept something that annoying the speaker


Must: is an order, a strong obligation. It is imposed by the subject and it is used only in the present tense.

Have to: it is an obligation imposed by external circumstances. It can also be used for missed form of must. In

the negative form it can express a missing of necessity.

Should e Ought To are both used to express a moral duty.


In the passive form object become subject and the verbs change according to sense. Only verb with an object can be made passive (be born is a passive form but it haven't a passive meaning) ; instead verbs with both direct and indirect objects can be made passives in two way or more (They sent me the letter= The letter was sent to me/ I was sent the letter). So the passives can be used in a variety of contents: in impersonal statements, when the agent I unknown or obvious, and to describe how something was done. Some verbs can be reported using the verb say (He his said travelling in Europe); while when someone does some work for us we can use have something done (I'm having my hair cut  this afternoon), using get instead of have is more formal. In passives the preposition stay with the verb (made is followed by to), if we want to say who does the action we use by.


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