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Writing: Tenses

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Writing: Tenses Revision

Tenses

You will need to understand and recognise the different tenses in the English language and know how to use them correctly.

Different tense markers are attached on to verbs.

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Verbs


Verbs describe an action, an occurrence or a state of being.

 

For example:

  • Action:

e.g., “Sam kicks the ball”

 

  • Occurrence:

e.g., “The party takes place on Friday”

 

  • State of being:

e.g., “Lionel Messi is a footballer”

 


 

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Present Tense


The present tense is used to describe something in the current moment.

 

Most verbs follow this present tense pattern:

 

I/you/we/they – play

He/she/it – plays

 

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Past Tense


The past tense is used to describe what has already happened. Most verbs add ‘-ed‘ to the end to turn into the past tense. For example, ‘I play’ in the present becomes ‘I played‘ in the past.

 

If the original verb ends in an ‘e‘, a ‘d‘ is added.

 

However, some verbs are irregular which means they don’t follow this pattern.

 

The following are some of the most common irregular verbs:

  • I do –> I did
  • I have –> I had
  • I see –> I saw
  • I go –> I went

 

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Future Tense


The future tense is used to describe something that hasn’t happened yet.

 

There are two ways to structure the future tense:

 

BE + going

For example: ‘I am/he is/they are going to play’

 

Will

For example: ‘I/he/they will play’

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Tense Consistency between Verbs


 

If there are multiple verbs within the same sentence, they usually need to be in the same tense.

 

For example:

‘When I walked to the shop, I had my coat on’.

 

Both verbs in this sentence are in the same tense when talking about the actions that happened at the same time.

 


 

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Tense Consistency between Verb and Subject


 

The subject of the verb must agree with the tense of the verb.

 

For example: ‘Sam kicks the ball’.

 

In this sentence, ‘kicks’ has a singular tense marking so the subject of the verb must be singular, which it is (Sam).

 

If the subject of the sentence changed to ‘Sam and Josh’, then the verb has to change from ‘kicks’ to ‘kick’ to match this change.

 


 

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Common Mistakes


 

When describing an action in the past, ‘havealways needs to be written before:

been‘ and ‘done

 

For example:

  • ‘I have been to the shops’
  • ‘I have done the work’

 

= ‘I been to the shops’ and ‘I done the work’ are NOT grammatically correct.

= ‘Could have’ and ‘should have’ are always contracted to ‘could’ve’ and ‘should’ve’ respectively.

= ‘Could of’ and ‘Should of’ are NOT grammatically correct.

 


 

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Additional Resources

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Exam Tips Cheat Sheet

FS Level 2

Writing: Tenses Worksheet and Example Questions

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Writing: Tenses L2

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