Leslie Linguo

ESL Grammar Course

...to help you in your conversations with Leslie Linguo
Verbs and the Past Time
Sometimes it is hard to know what tense to use. The past simple? He worked or the present perfect? He has worked or the past perfect? He had worked, the past continuous? He was working or the past perfect continuous? He has been working or the past perfect continuous? He had been working

SIMPLE OR CONTINUOUS?

Firstly, we use the SIMPLE formation for STATES:

I didn't know anybody there.
They liked fruit more than anything else.
I believed all his stories.

An easy way to know whether to use the SIMPLE or the CONTINUOUS formation is to ask the question IS THE ACTIVITY FINISHED?

If the answer is YES then you can use the past simple...

I read a book last night.
It was very exciting.

... or the past perfect...

He had studied Arabic before, so it was easy for him to understand.

... or the present perfect simple:

The car is OK now. They have repaired it.
I have already read that book.

If we ask the question IS THE ACTIVITY FINISHED? and the answer is NO or IT IS NOT IMPORTANT then you can use the past continuous...

I was reading a book. That's why I missed the TV show.
He had been studying Arabic for four years and he wanted to practice.
Their hands are dirty because they have been repairing the car.
She was watching TV when the phone rang.

We cannot use the continuous formation for STATES. If you need to express a state in the past then it is best to use USED TO:

I used to believe all his stories, but now I know he's a liar.
I didn't use to know anybody there, but now I have lots of friends.

Past simple

We use the past simple when we are interested in WHEN the activity happened:

I saw the film yesterday.
Did you go to England on your holiday?
He didn't do his homework last night.

We use the present perfect simple when we are NOT interested in WHEN the activity happened:

I've seen the film. It's good.
Have you ever been to England? Yes, I have been to London many times.
He has not done his homework yet.

We use the past simple for activities that have finished:

Charles Dickens, the famous author, died at the age of fifty-eight.
I was in Toronto for three days (and now I am home)
The Spanish civil war lasted for 3 years.
Charlie Chaplin made lots of films (he is dead now so he cannot make any more films.)

We use the present perfect simple for activities that have not finished:

Charles Dickens, the famous author, died at the age of fifty-eight.
I have been in Toronto for three days (and I am still here)
I haven't finished reading this book yet.
Quentin Tarantino has not made a lot of films (but he is still alive so he can make more films.)

We use the present perfect for activities that happened very recently:

Help! I think I've broken my leg.
Maria Jones, the famous singer, has just died at the age of seventy-six.

Past perfect

We use the past perfect when it is important to show what happened first.

Notice the difference:
When I arrived home my husband made dinner (my husband made dinner AFTER I arrived home)
When I arrived home my husband had made dinner (my husband made dinner BEFORE I arrived home)
When I arrived home my husband was making dinner (my husband made dinner AT THE SAME TIME that I arrived home)
Contents
The Basic Sentence
Unit 1: The Basic Sentence
Unit 2: The Subject
Unit 3: The Verb
Unit 4: Subject and Verb
Unit 5: Negative Sentences
Unit 6: Short Forms
Unit 7: Word Order
Questions
Unit 8: Question Words
Unit 9: Making Questions
Unit 10: Subject Questions
Unit 11: Short Answers
Unit 12: Question Tags
Unit 13: Indirect Questions
Verbs
Unit 14: Verb Forms
Unit 15: Using Verb Forms
Unit 16: The Verb to Be
Unit 17: Auxiliary Verbs
Unit 18: The Imperative
Unit 19: Present Simple Formation
Unit 20: Using the Present Simple
Unit 21: The Past Simple
Unit 22: The Present Continuous
Unit 23: The Past Continuous
Unit 24: Present Perfect Formation
Unit 25: Using the Present Perfect
Unit 26: The Past Perfect
Unit 27: Modal Verbs
Unit 28: The modal verb CAN
Unit 29: The modal verb COULD
Unit 30: The modal verbs MAY and MIGHT
Unit 31: The modal verbs WILL and SHALL
Unit 32: The modal verb WOULD
Unit 33: The modal verbs MUST and SHOULD
Unit 34: HAVE TO, NEED TO and NEEDN'T
Unit 35: Necessity and Advice
Unit 36: BE ABLE, OUGHT, HAVE GOT TO and HAD BETTER
Unit 37: GOING TO
Unit 38: USED TO
Unit 39: Verbs and Present Time
Unit 40: Verbs and Past Time
Unit 41: Verbs and Future Time
The Passive
Unit 42: Passive Sentences
Unit 43: Passive Verb Formations
Unit 44: Using the Passive
The Noun Phrase
Unit 45: Nouns and Noun Phrases
Unit 46: Plurals of Unit Nouns
Unit 47: Mass Nouns
Unit 48: Proper Nouns and Verbal Nouns
Unit 49: Genetive
Unit 50: Personal Pronouns
Unit 51: A, AN, SOME and ANY
Unit 52: THE
Unit 53: Nouns without A or THE
Unit 54: The Correct Article
Unit 55: THIS, THAT, THESE and THOSE
Unit 56: Mass and Unit in Sentences
Unit 57: Quantity
Unit 58: BOTH, EITHER and NEITHER
Unit 59: ONE
Unit 60: Relative Clauses
Types of Sentences
Unit 61: Empty Subjects
Unit 62: Simple Sentence Types
Unit 63: Complex Sentence Types
Adjectives and Adverbs
Unit 64: Adjectives and Adverbs
Unit 65: Position of Adjectives
Unit 66: Position of Adverbs
Unit 67: Some Important Adverbs
Comparison
Unit 68: Forms for Comparison
Unit 69: Comparing Two
Unit 70: Comparing Three or More
When?
Unit 71: Adverbs of Time
Unit 72: Prepositions of time
Unit 73: How Often?
Prepositions
Unit 74: In the World
Unit 75: In a Town
Unit 76: Outdoors
Unit 77: Indoors
Unit 78: In a Room
Unit 79: Objects and People
How and Why?
Unit 80: How?
Unit 81: Purpose and Use
Unit 82: Reason and Consequence
Connecting Ideas
Unit 83: Similar Ideas
Unit 84: Opposite Ideas
Unit 85: Sequence of Events
Unit 86: Conditions