English Grammar: Speak with the Right Verb Tenses
Meets on the University of Washington campus
Wednesdays from 7:00pm-8:00pm
Class starts January 20th
English Grammar for Speaking
There are three aspects of grammar that I regularly teach in classes or with private students:
1) Verb Tenses
Today I will talk about the verb tenses. More on prepositions and articles in future posts.
First of all, language is a survival skill. If you are just starting to speak English with native speakers, it is very natural to use the present tense more than necessary. Take this sentence for example:
Yesterday, I go to the store.
Well, the listener knows you did the action yesterday. So you have communicated--that's your first priority when speaking a language.
After you have made some attempts with native English speakers, however, it is best to start pushing yourself to speak with the right verb tenses. If you do not, you may develop the long-term habit of using the present tense too much.
You can set a goal of focusing on one tense for a while and then another tense after that. Review the grammar on your own, and then concentrate on using that tense while speaking to people. Here are some good situations for each tense:
Present Tense--Your regular schedule and your schedule for today. Review the simple present and the present progressive. When you tell people your schedule, try to use both tenses.
Past Tense--Review the irregular verbs. Review the pronunciation of the -ed ending if needed. Of course, just keep this tense in mind when talking about the past.
Present Perfect--This is the tense with have + the past participle, i.e. I have taken the class.
Use this tense to talk about your achievements or recent activities. Also, start conversations with people using Have you ever ... questions like Have you ever traveled to Asia?
Past Perfect--This one is harder to use in daily speech. Review the tense. Think of a good story from your life and figure out how the past perfect can be used with it. Try it out on a friend.
Future Tense--Try speaking the contractions, as in I'll, she'll, he'll, etc. This will help you sound fluent. Also, try using the future progressive to sound casual, as in I'll be going now. See you later!
Conditional Tense--To get started, use could and would to sound polite when making requests, as in Could you help me? or Would you please give me a bag? Then think about giving advice to someone, i.e. If you would let me help you, I could save you some time.
You can review the tenses with lots of speaking questions using my online grammar course:
English Grammar: Speak the Verb Tenses
Enjoy your weekend!