Need-to-know Grammar: Verb Tense Sequence

May 16, 2006

The tense of a verb indicates the time frame of an action's occurrence. Actions that occur now use the simple present tense, actions that already occurred use the simple past tense, and actions that will occur use the simple future tense.

simple present tense: I study. [This is happening now.]

simple past tense: I studied. [This happened in the past.]

simple future tense: I will study. [This will happen in the future.]

The perfect tense of verbs is used to indicate the relative sequence of events in a sentence. The present perfect tense indicates that an action has been occurring and may be continuing to occur now. The past perfect tense indicates that an action occurred in the past before another action. The future perfect tense indicates that an action will occur in the future before another action.

present perfect tense: I have studied, so I will pass the test. [I studied in the past and might still be studying now. I will pass in the future.]

past perfect tense: I had studied, so I passed the test. [First I studied. I completed this action, then I passed the test.]

future perfect tense: I will have studied, so I will pass the test. [In the future, I will study. I will complete this action and then I will pass in the future.]

The college entrance examinations will test your ability to identify and correct errors in verb tense sequence. This will require both a knowledge of the verb tenses and context-reading skills.

By the time we arrived at the concert, the opening band finished its set.

This sentence contains an error in verb tense sequence. The band finished playing before we arrived, so the verb in the main clause should be in the past perfect tense.

By the time we arrived at the concert, the opening band had finished its set.

This sentence is correct.

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3 Responses to “Need-to-know Grammar: Verb Tense Sequence”

  1. jons fortune Says:

    please give me much more exercises of verb tense sequence.combine all tenses in one story..thanks a lot

  2. jons fortune Says:

    please give me much more exercises of verb tense sequence.thanks a lot

  3. Ruta Says:

    Would you be kind enough to give me more exercises of verb tense sequence. I would be very grateful.
    Thanks so much.


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