PRESENT SIMPLE / PRESENT CONTINUOUS The present simple

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PRESENT SIMPLE / PRESENT CONTINUOUS

The present simple tense has these uses:

1) It is used to describe your habits.

I always have a fruit smoothie before I go to work.I visit my friend in hospital every Sunday.

2) It is used to describe factual information - things that are true.

Red meat is a good source of iron.Drinking orange juice helps your body digest the iron in red meat.

3)It is used to describe things that are true for a long time.

I work at the General Hospital in Hamilton.My mother is a surgeon.

We can make present simple questions with do (do (I/we/you/they) or does (he/she/it). We answer Yes, I do or No, I dont etc.

Do you like your job? Yes, I do.Does she work long hours? Yes, she does. Does your boss make you work long hours? No, he doesn't.

We make negative sentences with dont (I/we/you/they dont) or doesnt (he/she/it doesnt).

I dont like my job.She doesnt work long hours.He doesn't make me work long hours.

The present continuous tense (am/ is/are + verb+-ing) is used to describe something happening at this time. The action is in progress - it hasn't finished yet.

What are you doing? I'm reading this email.Look! Keiko is sleeping at her desk!

We do not have to be doing the action as we are speaking.

I need to go back to work. I'm writing a report on absenteeism.I'm doing two courses at night school this year.

We use the present continuous tense when describing actions that are temporary.

I'm studying for my last exam. I'm living in the nurses' home at the moment. But soon I will find an apartment.The Xray machine is broken. We're using the one from the ward below this week.

The present continuous can also be used to talk about a current trend.

People are thinking more about how work will affect their families now.Work absenteeism rates are increasing.

Some verbs are not normally used in the present continuous tense (or in any other continuous tense). These verbs are not actions. These include: know, remember, hate, understand, suppose, belong.

We can make present continuous questions with am/is/are (I/we/you/they) + verb+-ing* (A verb+-ing is also known as the present participle).We answer Yes, I am or No, I'm not etc".

Are you enjoying your job? Yes, I am.Is she working long hours at the moment? Yes, she is.Is your boss making you work long hours druing the New Year Sales? No, he isn't.

We make negative sentences with (I/we/you/they) am/is/are + not + verb+-ing.

I'm not sleeping! I'm thinking.She isn't sitting at her desk. She's standing by the computer.

Exercise 1:Jo is a nurse. Fill in the gaps in the description of a typical work day for her by putting the verb in brackets into the correct present simple tense form.

Jo 1._____ (be) a nurse. She 2. _____ (work) at a medical clinic near her home in Ipswich. She 3. _____ (get) to work at 8 am every weekday. She first 4. _____ (check) the phone for voice messages and the fax machine for faxes. She then 5. _____ (talk) to the doctors about the days appointments. At 8.30 she 6. _____ (make) sure that the medical instruments 7. _____ (be) ready for use and that everything 8. _____ (be) clean and tidy.The doctors and nurses 9. _____ (start) seeing patients at 9.00. Jo10. _____ (spend) a lot of time giving babies and children vaccinations. She 11. _____ (talk) to their parents about any worries they 12. _____ (have). The doctors 13. _____ (call) her for help with bandaging or tests. She 14. _____ (be) also available at all times for medical emergencies.At lunchtime Jo 15. _____ (answer) the phone while the receptionist 16. _____ (have) her lunch. It 17. _____ (be + not) a busy time so Jo usually 18. _____ (have) a cup of tea. She 19. _____ (try) to do any paperwork during this time too. The clinic 20. _____ (have + not) as many patients in the afternoon unless it 21. _____ (be) a Friday. At around 4.00 she 22. _____ (check) that her computer files 23. _____ (be) up-to-date. She 24. _____ (look) at the clinics stock of medical supplies and 25. _____ (phone) the manufacturers to order more of something, if necessary. Finally, Jo 26. _____ (talk) to the doctors and other nurses about the days work. She 27. _____ (go) home around 5.00. She 28. _____ ( be) usually late leaving work. Jo 29. _____ (love) her job but the pay 30. _____ (be + not) very good.

Exercise 2: Agnes is an elderly lady. She is in hospital. Fill in the gaps in this letter by putting the verb in brackets into the correct present continuous tense form.

Answer Key:

Exercise 1:1. is, 2. works, 3. gets, 4. checks, 5. talks, 6. makes, 7. are, 8. is, 9. start, 10. spends, 11. talks, 12. have, 13. call,14. is, 15. answers, 16. has, 17. isnt, 18. has, 19. tries, 20. doesnt have, 21. is, 22. checks, 23. are, 24. looks, 25. phones, 26. talks 27. goes, 28. is, 29. loves, 30. isnt.

Exercise 21. am writing, 2. am feeling, 3. are trying, 4. is shining, 5. is blooming, 6. are shaking, 7. are having, 8. is coming.

PAST SIMPLE AND PAST CONTINUOUS

The past simple is used:1. for an action that started and ended in the past.

I saw a ghost last Friday. Our cat climbed a tree five minutes ago. In June 2005 I visited Rome and Florence.

2. for a repeated action in the past.

When I was young, I watched lots of television every day after school.*I always gave my mother flowers on her birthday.*(We could also say, I used to watch lots of television.).

3. for stative (non-action) verbs, which are verbs that do not express an action, but a state of mind or being, e.g. have (own), be, think (believe), know, dislike, need, owe, understand, wish.

He had a small cottage in the woods. He wasn't afraid of ghosts.I knew all the other children at my school when I was a child.

Regular past simple tense verbs end in -ed.

I talked to my uncle yesterday.I phoned my girlfriend this morning.

Irregular past simple tense verbs do not end in -ed. You need to learn irregular past tense verbs.

I felt sick yesterday morning so I went to the doctor.

The past continuous tense is used:

1. when talking about TWO actions in the past; one continues for a period, and the other starts and ends (past simple).

While I was talking on the phone, someone stole my car.I was making breakfast when the cat knocked over the milk carton, so I burnt the toast.These sentences usually use while or when.

2. to talk about TWO actions in the past, both happening over a period.

I was working on my computer and my children were watching television.

3. to talk about a TEMPORARY activity taking place over a limited time.

I was living in Indooroopilly when it happened.I was staying at my friend's house while my parents were touring Italy.

The past continuous tense is was / were + the present participle.(The present participle is the base of a verb + ing i.e. walk walking).

Read the story and look at the pictures. Fill in the gaps in this letter using either the past simple or past continuous.

A DISASTROUS DINNER

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Last Friday, Mrs. Anderson ___________ (plan) to have a delicious dinner. She ____________ (buy) a T-bone steak and some cream and apples for an apple pie. When she _______________ (come) home from the shops she ____________________ (put) her shopping on the table. While she ___________________ (set) the table, her two pets ______________________ (sit) underneath it and _________watch) her. Then she __________________ (go) to the kitchen to make the pastry for the apple pie. She __________________ (be) a little forgetful so she _________________ (not realize) that the steak, cream and apples __________________ (be) still on the table.

While she _________________ (make) the pastry, the dog _______________________ (jump) on a chair and ____________________ (look) longingly at the steak. At last it ___________________ (take) the steak in its mouth and ______________________ (jump) off the chair, just as Mrs. Anderson ___________________ (come) back into the dining room. Mrs. Anderson ____________________ (scream), but the dog _____________________ (run) into the garden. She _______________________ (run) after the dog. While she _______________________ (chase) the dog, the cat _____________________ (jump) on the table and ______________________ (start) drinking the cream. Mrs. Anderson _______________________ (not manage) to catch the dog, and she __________________ (come) back into the dining room. When she ___________________ (see) the cat, she ___________________ (shriek), and the cat _______________________ (get) such a fright that it ___________________ (jump) a meter into the air, and _____________________ (leap) out the window. Mrs. Anderson ____________________ (throw) her broom at the cat, but she __________________ (miss), and ____________________ (break) the window. At the same time she ______________________ (overbalance) and ____________________(put) her hand in the cream, spilling it all over the tablecloth. Poor Mrs. Anderson - she ______________________ (have) no dinner, only a dirty tablecloth and a broken window.

Answer:

Last Friday, Mrs. Anderson planned to have a delicious dinner. She bought a T-bone steak and some cream and apples for an apple pie. When she came home from the shops she put her shopping on the table. While she was setting the table, her two pets sat underneath it and watched her. Then she went to the kitchen to make the pastry for the apple pie. She was a little forgetful so she didn't realize that the steak, cream and apples were still on the table.

While she was making the pastry, the dog jumped on a chair and looked longingly at the steak. At last it took the steak in its mouth and jumped off the chair, just as Mrs. Anderson was coming back into the dining room. Mrs. Anderson screamed, but the dog ran into the garden. She ran after the dog. While she was chasing the dog, the cat jumped on the table and started drinking the cream. Mrs. Anderson didn't manage to catch the dog, and she came back into the dining room. When she saw the cat, she shrieked, and the cat got such a fright that it jumped a meter into the air, and leapt out the window. Mrs. Anderson threw her broom at the cat, but she missed, and broke the window. At the same time she overbalanced and put her hand in the cream, spilling it all over the tablecloth. Poor Mrs. Anderson - she had no dinner, only a dirty tablecloth and a broken window.

PRESENT PERFECT

The present perfect - form.The present perfect simple tense is made with has/have + the past participle. (Notice how the auxiliary verb have changes to has with he/she/it.)

The past participle of verbs is used in the present perfect simple. Regular verbs take the ending -ed. e.g. talked, phoned, walked, visited. Other verbs are irregular.

Present Perfect Simple - PositiveI have worked at ABC since 2002.You have worked at ABC since 2002.He / she / it has worked at ABC since 2002.We have worked at ABC since 2002.They have worked at ABC since 2002.

Present Perfect Simple - NegativeI haven't worked at ABC since 2002.You haven't worked at ABC since 2002.He / she / it hasn't worked at ABC since 2002.We haven't worked at ABC since 2002.They haven't worked at ABC since 2002.

Present Perfect Simple - QuestionHave I worked there?Have you worked there?Has he / she / it worked there?Have we worked there?Have they worked there?

The present perfect has different uses.It is used to talk about an action which began in the past and continues to the present.

I have worked for this company for the last six years.I have sent a lot of emails in the last few minutes.How long have you worked here?

It is used with words like since, this week/year/month, over the last few weeks, for the last six months etc. and today. These words describe an unfinished time.

I have worked here since 2000.I have interviewed four applicants this morning.I have worked with her for two years.Note: It is never used with time words like last week, last year, yesterday, five minutes ago, in 1998 etc. These words describe a finished time. We use the past simple with these words.

Wrong: I have worked for ABC last year.Correct: I worked for ABC last year.

The present perfect simple is used to talk about an action that happened in the past where the time is not mentioned.

I have had three different offices at ABC. (He has had three different offices at ABC in the past. He does not tell us when. The present perfect simple is used.)

If the time is mentioned, the simple past tense is used.

I moved into my first office in 2002 when I began working at ABC. In 2004 they promoted me so I got a bigger office on the top floor. I moved into my current office in 2005. I really like it. (He moved into his first office in 2002, then a bigger one in 2004 and his current office in 2005. This tells us when he moved into different offices. The simple past tense is used.)

The present perfect simple is used to talk about experiences.

I have worked for three other companies but this company is the best!

The present perfect simple is used in questions with ever. It is used with never and yet.

Have you ever slept at work?No, I've never slept at work.

The present perfect is used to talk about something that has happened recently (not long ago). It is used in giving news of something.

My boss has just shouted at me!

The present perfect simple is used with just, already and recently.

I have just resigned.I have already looked for jobs in the newspaper.

Exercise 1:Read the short description. Then answer the questions by completing the sentences. One is done for you as an example.

Hi, my name's Andrew. I have been a consultant for six years. I have worked for ABC for the last four years. This is the office where I do all my work. My desk faces the window so I can look outside when I need to think. This coffee machine makes great coffee. I have had it for over a year. During that time lots of staff have come in and served themselves coffee because the cafeteria downstairs makes horrible coffee.

This afternoon I haven't been very busy. I've only written a few emails and made two phonecalls. I've had three cups of coffee.

1. How long have you been a consultant? I have been a consultant _______________. Example answer: I have been a consultant for six years.

2. How long have you worked for ABC? I have worked here _______________.

3. How long have you had this coffee machine? I _______________ this coffee machine for over a year.

4. How many staff have used it? _______________ it.

5. Have you been busy this afternoon? No, _______________ this afternoon.

6. How many phonecalls have you made this afternoon? I _______________ this afternoon.

Exercise 2:Choose either the simple past tense or the present perfect tense in the sentences below.

1. Have you ever been /were you ever rude to your boss?

2. No, I have never been /was never rude to my boss.

3. Well, I have shouted/shouted at my boss twice!

4. I have shouted/shouted at him last night when he asked me to work late. And I have been rude/ was rude to him one night at an office party.

5. My parents have always told/ always told me to be polite to the boss. They have been/were angry with me when I told them that I was rude to my boss at the office party.

Answer Key:Exercise 12. I have worked here for the last four years. 3. I have had this coffee machine for over a year. 4. Lots of staff have used it. 5. I haven't been busy this afternoon. 6. I've made two phonecalls this afternoon.

Exercise 21. Have you ever, 2. have never been, 3. have shouted, 4. shouted, was rude, 5. have always told/were

SIMPLE v. CONTINUOUS

Present: I go to work by train Present: I am going to work by train.

(habitual action) (a) Now (b) In the future.

Past: I bought a coat last Friday. Past: While I was buying a coat, something else happened.

(Two actions in one sentence - one continued for a period, and the other started and ended. Often used with 'while').

Perfect: I have bought a coat. Perfect: I have been writing letters all morning, and now I am tired.

(Notice that I do not mention a time as in the Past Tense).

Past Perfect: When we had locked up, we went to bed. Past Perfect: She had been reading magazines all afternoon because it had been raining,( and by 5 o'clock she was bored.)

(Two actions in the past, one happening before the other. Often used with when, after.)

(Two actions in the past, one starting and continuing until the second, later one.)

This even applies in the Passive.

Present: These books are printed in this country. (a permanent fact). Present: The books are being printed at the moment. They will be ready next week.

Past: My dress was made by a young designer. Past: While my dress was being made, I phoned the designer every day.

Perfect: My dress has been delivered. Perfect - doesn't exist - no such tense as has been being done.

I shall be sending in lessons on the use of the Perfect, so watch out for those. It is a difficult tense.