How to Avoid Giving People an Earsore (Bad Tenses)

Of all the five senses, two can be easily inflicted with a sore. The ear often takes offence, being irritated by what it hears. It’s what people hear not necessarily what they see that get them upset to the point of fighting. What the ear hears can set the whole body on fire. We need not be told to be mindful of what we say and how we say them so as not to hurt others.  The earsore—bad tenses—plaguing many nonnative speakers of English is wearisome and worrisome. Some describe bad tenses as a bombshell because when they strike the ear, it tingles and make one grimace. Bad tenses can be both irritating and embarrassing.

Bad tenses in Use

“He told me to told you….”

“I didn’t saw it. “

“If I had know.”

“He hitted me.”

“The tyre has bursted.”

It’s like some users of English don’t understand the basic concept of tenses. And when they do, it’s extremely difficult for them to apply them in their daily speech. Bad tenses seem to rate second only to the mispronunciation of words among nonnative speakers of English. The problem is fundamentally foundational and so very hard to correct. It’s easier to correct pronunciation mistakes than tense errors! This presentation attempts to make simple the rule governing tenses in spoken and written English.

What are Tenses?

Tense means time in English grammar. When you say something in English, we can tell when it happened. Is it happening now? Did it happen in the past? Or is it going to happen in the future? So we speak in the present tense; in the present continuous tense; in the past tense; or in the future tense. Tenses are important when we speak or write. Expressing yourself in bad tense tells people that you are not educated.

We can say things in the present tense like in the sentence: “He is here” when it is happening. At other times, we say things in the past tense, like in the sentence: “He was here.” when it has happened.  Another tense we use is for when we can as well choose to say something in the future tense as in the sentence: “He is going to be here.”when it has not happened. A verb tells us the time of an event. Can you remember what a verb is? A verb is that word that tells us what is happening in a sentence. It also tells us the time something happened. And when something will happen.

The Subject and the Verb Must Agree

A good speaker of English makes sure that the subject of a sentence agrees with the verb used. What is the subject of a sentence? The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that is the doer of the action by the verb.  Be careful, verbs can be tricky. Time and the number of persons or things involved in an action can change a verb.  For example, John goes with is in the sentence: John is a boy. But John and James cannot go with is in the sentence: John and James are boys. Again, John can work with wants in the sentence: John wants a drink. John and James cannot work with wants in the sentence: John and James want a drink.

Subject-Verb Agreement Explained

The form a verb takes depends on the noun—the number of persons or things involved in an action.  When a noun (that is the naming word) is singular, the verb will be singular but when a noun is plural the verb will be plural. How do we know that the noun boy is plural? When S is added to it, it becomes boys. So the plural of boy is boys. How do we know that the verb want is singular? When S is added to it, it becomes wants. So the singular of want is wants. Verbs and nouns are opposite when they are singular and plural. In forming the plural of a noun, we add S. In forming the singular of a verb, we add S.

You must do all you can to improve your tenses because people who use bad tenses are seen as not properly schooled. Wrong tenses may annoy your listeners, and make them look down on you and even stop listening to you.

Examples of Good Tenses

Here are some sentences to consider:

John (singular) loves

James and John (plural) love

She (singular) moves

He (singular) moves

We (plural) move

They (plural) move

I move (singular but usually takes plural verb)

Mary (singular) has

Mary and Deborah (plural) have

She (singular) has

He (singular) has

We (plural) have

They (plural) have

I have (singular but usually takes plural verb)

The boy (singular) is

The boys (plural) are

She (singular) is

He (singular) is

We (plural) are

They (plural) are

I  am (am usually work with I)

Why not try your hands on this quiz and see how good your tenses are.









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