Posted by: episystechpubs | December 22, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Sixth Day of English

On the sixth day of English

My true love gave to me

Six basic tenses

And a circus made up of fleas

You can regard this as a tale of English future, where we will cover these tenses and more in the year 2015. For now it is just a simple preview from my friends at the Purdue OWL.

Strictly speaking, in English, only two tenses are marked in the verb alone, present (as in "he sings") and past (as in "he sang"). Other English language tenses, as many as thirty of them, are marked by other words called auxiliaries. Understanding the six basic tenses allows one to re-create much of the reality of time in their writing.

Simple Present: They walk

Present Perfect: They have walked

Simple Past: They walked

Past Perfect: They had walked

Future: They will walk

Future Perfect: They will have walked

Problems in sequencing tenses usually occur with the perfect tenses, all of which are formed by adding an auxiliary or auxiliaries to the past participle, the third principal part.

ring, rang, rung

walk, walked, walked

The most common auxiliaries are forms of "be," "can," "do," "may," "must," "ought," "shall," "will," "has," "have," "had.”

That’s enough to absorb for now. Until next time, here’s to the South for coming up with a plural version of the second person.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory


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