Britlish

Present Perfect Past - Present - GA7

Aspect and Tenses Course Grammar

Grammar

These Activities focus on the grammar of English. English grammar compared to other grammars is quite simple, but in its simplicity lies its complexity. The Activities here cover all aspects of English grammar from the aspects and tenses to sentence structures. English grammar covers the structure of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and entire texts. There are eight parts of speech in English: nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. The largest of these parts of speech are the nouns which, unlike most European languages, do not have grammatical gender. English grammar has largely done away with the inflectional case system of other European languages and bases its grammar on analytic constructions. The Activities in this category will go some way to helping you get a better understanding of English grammar.    

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We can talk about finished actions using both the present perfect and the past simple. It’s logical that anything which is finished must be in the past. What the present perfect does that the past simple cannot do is to form a connection between the past finished action and the present. We can only use a finished time expression like last week with the past simple. In this Grammar Activation Pack, I want to focus on how the present perfect connects events in the past with the present. As I said, logically anything that is finished must have happened in the past. The present perfect uses the present tense of the finite verb have, which as you know is have or has, and the past participle of a non-finite verb. It is this combination of the present and the past that gives us our biggest clue as to how the perfect aspect and the present tense work together. This British English grammar is essential for all students of English and the many exercises in the pack will help you master it quickly and enjoyably.

Aspect and Tenses Course

Present Perfect Past - Present

Grammar Activation Pack 7

Past - Present

We can talk about finished actions using both the present perfect and the past simple.

Captain Britlish has twisted his knee.

Captain Britlish twisted his knee last week.

Captain Britlish did twist his knee last week.

All of these statements are true, and all refer to a finished action.

It’s logical that anything which is finished must be in the past.

What the present perfect does that the past simple cannot do is to form a connection between the past finished action and the present.

We can only use a finished time expression like last week with the past simple.

Past to Present

In this Grammar Activation Pack, I want to focus on how the present perfect connects events in the past with the present.

As I said, logically anything that is finished must have happened in the past.

The present perfect uses the present tense of the finite verb have, which as you know is have or has, and the past participle of a non-finite verb.

It is this combination of the present and the past that gives us our biggest clue as to how the perfect aspect and the present tense work together.

Simple Past

What aspect and tense are used in the following sentence?

Captain Britlish flew Spitfires in the last war.

Yes, the aspect is marked by the hidden do which shows us it is the simple aspect.

The tense is shown by the past simple form of the non-finite verb fly which is flew.

Fly, Flew, Flown.

If we reveal the hidden do, we can see the aspect and tense more clearly:

Captain Britlish did fly Spitfires in the last war.

In this statement, there is no connection with the present and the statement only focusses on the past.

Could we use the present perfect to talk about this, even though it is not a recent event?

Connecting the Past with the Present

Even though the last war was a long time ago and therefore not recent, we can use the present perfect to talk about this.

Flying spitfires is something that is part of who Captain British is.

There is a connection between the past and the present.

The present perfect makes us think about the present tense because it uses the present tense of have, and it makes us think about the past because it uses the past participle.

Captain Britlish has flown Spitfires.

The experience of having flown a Spitfire is a part of who Captain Britlish is, and it has an effect on his present, even though his flying Spitfires is not a recent action.

Before…

Here is a good place to introduce the adverb, before, as I’ll be using it soon.

We use the present perfect with the adverb before when it means at any time prior to the present.

I have done this before.

Have I done this before?

I have not done this before.

She has done that before.

Has she done that before?

She has not done that before.

Built-in Connection

Captain Britlish has flown Spitfires before.

The very nature of the present perfect compels us to think of both the past and the present at the same time.

This is built into the present perfect in a way that it is not built into the past simple.

We can even rewrite present perfect sentences into past simple or present tense sentences with similar meanings.

Captain Britlish has flown Spitfires.

Captain Britlish flew Spitfires years ago.

Captain Britlish has twisted his knee.

Captain Britlish’s knee is twisted now.

The last statement uses the copular verb to talk about the knee’s present state.

I’ve Already Eaten

Are you hungry, Captain Britlish?

Here, my question is only interested in Captain Britlish’s present state so I ask using a copular verb.

Captain Britlish, however, thinks both of the present and of the past when he replies using the present perfect.

No, I’ve already eaten.

You have to be thinking of both the present and the past in order to use the present perfect.

After all, both the present and the past are part of the present perfect, aren’t they?

Have you Eaten?

You have to be thinking of both the present and the past in order to use the present perfect.

Have you eaten, Captain Britlish?

Here, my question is interested in the present and the past, so the present perfect is really asking if he ate earlier and about his present state:

Did you eat earlier?

Are you hungry now?

Captain Britlish also thinks both of the present and of the past when he replies using the present perfect.

Yes, I have eaten.

I Haven’t Eaten

If I am not thinking of both the present and the past, I should not use the present perfect.

Are you hungry, Captain Britlish?

Here, my question is only interested in Captain Britlish’s present state so I ask using a copular verb.

Captain Britlish answers in the present using a copular verb to describe his present state:

Yes, I am hungry.

But he thinks both of the past and of the present when he explains why he is hungry using the present perfect:

I haven’t eaten since breakfast.

Notice the use of since to mean the time from then to now.

Have you Eaten Yet?

Thinking about both the present and the past means you should use the present perfect.

The present and the past are part of the present perfect.

Have you eaten yet, Captain Britlish?

Here, my question is interested in the present and the past.

I use yet to mean up to this moment.

Did you eat in the recent past?

Are you hungry now?

Captain Britlish also thinks both of the present and of the past when he replies using the present perfect.

No, I haven’t eaten yet and I am hungry.

He uses a copular verb to talk about his present state.

Have you Seen…?

Have you seen that lion before, Captain Britlish?

Here, my question is interested in the present and the past, so the present perfect is better than these two questions:

Did you see the lion earlier?

Do you think the lion will hurt you?

Captain Britlish also thinks both of the present and of the past when he replies using the present perfect.

Of course I have seen him before and I know he’s a big softy!

He also uses the present simple and a copular verb.

I Haven’t Seen…

Have you seen that tiger before, Captain Britlish?

Here, my question is interested in the present and the past.

Did you see the tiger earlier?

Do you think the tiger will hurt you?

Captain Britlish also thinks both of the present and of the past when he replies using the present perfect.

No, I haven’t seen it before and I am scared!

The use of a copular verb tells us his present state.

I Haven’t Eaten Him.

Have you eaten Captain Britlish?

Here, my question is interested in the present and the past, so the present perfect is really asking if the tiger ate Captain Britlish and enquiring as to the Captain’s present state:

Did you just eat Captain Britlish?

Why is he not here now?

The tiger, if it could talk, might reply using both the present and the past in the present perfect.

No, I haven’t eaten Captain Britlish.

Notice the difference a comma makes:

Have you eaten, Captain Britlish?

Have you eaten Captain Britlish?

I Haven’t Been Eaten

Has the tiger eaten you, Captain Britlish?

Here, my question is interested in the present and the past, so the present perfect is really asking Captain Britlish if the tiger ate him and enquiring as to his present state:

Did the tiger eat you, Captain Britlish?

Is that why you are not here now?

Not having been eaten, Captain Britlish will answer using both the present and the past in the present perfect.

No, the tiger hasn’t eaten me.

I haven’t been eaten is a passive sentence. We will look at passives in a future Grammar Activation Pack.

Grammar Activator

The best way to activate what you have just learnt is to do some exercises where I can ask you some questions and tell you whether you are right or wrong.

You can do this in the Grammar Activator which is available on the next page.

Just click the Start Quiz button to begin.

You will be asked some random questions from a bank of questions.

Each time you complete the Grammar Activator you can refresh your browser and a new set of questions will be created for you.

Aspect and Tenses

A comprehensive English course covering the tenses and aspects of English in an easy-to-understand format with lots of self-test exercises to check your understanding. You will learn all you need to know about the 3 Key Verbs of English: Be, Do, Have. This course will let you see just how simple English grammar is. We will explore the present simple, the past simple, the present continuous, the post continuous, the present perfect and the present perfect past and present, along with present perfect time markers, the present perfect continuous, the past perfect and the past perfect continuous.

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Past Continuous - GA5

I explained about the Key Verbs, be, do, and have and their inflected tenses in Grammar Activation Pack 1. I told you about the past tense, simple aspect in Grammar Activation Pack 3. I also explained the present tense, continuous aspect in Grammar Activation Pack 4. In this Grammar Activation Pack, I am going to tell you how the second of the key verbs, be, is used for the continuous aspect, past tense. This British English grammar is essential for all students of English and the many exercises in the pack will help you master it quickly and enjoyably.

Categories: Grammar


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Past Perfect - GA10

As you have already learnt, the past tense is indicted by the past forms of the three key verbs, do, be, and have. With do, the past is indicated by did for all persons. With be, the past is indicated by was for third persons, and were for all other persons. With have, the past is indicated by had for all persons. The past tense is shown by the inflected past form of the verb have, had, and this is used for all subjects. Past tense, perfect aspect is one of the least used of all the tense-aspect combinations in English. The past perfect has one main use and that it to talk about one thing that happened before another thing in the past. The past perfect basically talks about the past in the past. This British English grammar is essential for all students of English and the many exercises in the pack will help you master it quickly and enjoyably.    

Categories: Grammar


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Past Perfect Continuous - GA11

Regular verbs form their past tense by adding ed. Irregular verbs have a past tense form that you must learn individually. Remember, too, that the continuous aspect of the past tense is marked by the auxiliary verb be plus the ing form of a verb. If you see the verb be followed by an ing form, it’s the continuous aspect. Verb to be plus ing! is really all you need to know to identify the continuous aspect. So, if had plus a past participle gives us the perfect aspect, and be +ing gives us the continuous aspect, then together we get the past tense, perfect continuous aspect. While it is easy to name the aspects and the tenses, what is less clear is how, when, and where we should use the past perfect continuous.     

Categories: Grammar


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