Thursday, 23 July 2015

When to Use Past Perfect Tense

ContentsGrammar in Dialogues → Past Perfect (When to Use)

In this page we examine the Past Perfect Tense in a detail: what it actually means and how it is used. Some illustrative extracts from English literature are given below.

Past Perfect expresses an action accomplished before a given past moment and viewed back from the past moment. It may be a single point action, an action of some duration or a recurrent action. The time of the action in most cases is not indicated. Here are some examples (1, 2).

Example 1:
Vincent Van Gogh is talking with his cousin Kay in Amsterdam.

Kay: What are you thinking about, Cousin? You seem preoccupied.
Vincent: I was thinking that Rembrandt would have liked to paint you.
Kay: Rembrandt only like to paint ugly old women, didn’t he?
Vincent: No. He painted beautiful old women, women who were poor or in some way unhappy, but who through sorrow had gained a soul.
Kay: Forgive me for being stupid. I understand what you mean about Rembrandt. He gets at the real essence of beauty, doesn’t he, when he paints those gnarled old people who have suffering and defeat carved into their faces.
(I. Stone. Lust for Life)

Monday, 27 April 2015

Present Perfect – When to Use

ContentsGrammar in Dialogues → Present Perfect (When to Use)

Present Perfect Tense Explanation and Illustrative Examples from Classics

Present Perfect is used to express an accomplished action (both, a single action and an action or state of some duration) which is viewed from the moment of speaking as part of the present situation. Attention is focused on the action itself (but not on the time when it took place, nor in the circumstances – they appear unimportant).

Present Perfect is generally used:

1. when the time of the action is not indicated at all (dialogue 1);

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Going To Usage and Illustrative Examples

Another way of expressing a future action is the construction "to be going to + infinitive". It is mainly found with dynamic verbs; it is characterized by the following additional modal meanings:

a) premeditated intention (see the illustrative example below):

1. Father and son are watching the stars.

Father: I wonder if they’re what we think they are? Stars! Stars like this! People think we know about them. I wonder if we do. I wonder if we can. I wonder if we they are what we think they are.
Son: Let’s find out. I’m going to find out.
Father: Well.
Son: I’m going to find out all about them.
Father: Perhaps you will. A lot of people have tried, you know. Sir Isaac Newton – and Sir Robert Ball – and Sir William Herschell -- …
(G. P. Snow. The Search)

To Be Going to + Infinitive

Contents → To Be Going to + Infinitive

To Be Going To + Infinitive form for a future action 

I am
He is
She is
It is
We are
You are
They are

going to do something.

We often use the present form am/are/is/ going to + infinitive to talk about the future.
  • What are you going to do on Sunday? 
  • It is going to snow


Friday, 20 February 2015

Using Future Indefinite Tense through Dialogues

This page shows different ways of using the Future Indefinite Tense (or Simple Future) through dialogues from English literature.

The Future Indefinite expresses an action that will take place in the future. It may be a single point action, an action occupying a whole period of time, a succession of actions, recurrent actions in the future or a permanent future action generally characterizing the person or thing denoted by the subject. The Future Indefinite may be associated with adverbs and adverbial expressions of time or time clauses.

Illustrative Examples:

1. Catherine and Frederic are in Switzerland. There was a snow storm the day before.

Catherine: I wish I could ski. It’s rotten not to be able to ski.
Frederic: We’ll get a bobsled and come down the road. That’s no worse for you than riding a car.
Catherine: Won’t it be rough?
Frederic: We can see.
Catherine: I hope it won’t be too rough.
Frederic: After a while we’ll take a walk in the storm.
Catherine: Before lunch, so we’ll have a good appetite.
Frederic: I’m always hungry.
Catherine: So am I.

(E. Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms)

Friday, 30 January 2015

Using Past Indefinite through Dialogues

This page shows different ways of using the Past Indefinite (or Simple Past) through dialogues from English literature.

The Past Indefinite is used to express a single action completed in the past. It is performed within a period of time which is already over. An indication of the past time is given or implied in the situation. The speaker is mostly interested in the circumstances of the action, not the action itself.

Illustrative Examples:

1. The children in the junior form have great difficulty in writing compositions, so the teacher is trying to teach them how to do it; they are writing together on the blackboard a composite account of the holiday.

The teacher: John, tell me something that you did.
John: Went to the seaside, miss.
The teacher: How?
John: Bus.
The teacher: By yourself?
John: No. Lot of us kids went. Us went with the Mothers’ Union, miss.
The teacher: Right. Now put all that into sentences that I can write on the blackboard. Well, come along. You can start by saying, “During the holidays I went to the seaside.” What shall we put next?
Anne: I went in a bus.
The teacher: Now what?
The teacher: I went with the Mother’s Union.
Another pupil: I went with some others.
Another pupil: I went on a Saturday.
Another pupil: I went with my sister.
(Miss Read. Village School)