By Nuru Aliyu Bauchi
Permit me a little space in your new but rapidly growing and widely read newspaper to contribute from my little knowledge of English on English Tenses. Tenses are among the most important but often neglected and poorly mastered topics, even among graduates of the English language. Two incidents involving two graduates of the English language from different universities recently made me dumbfounded.
The first incident was a Corp member posted to serve at one of the secondary schools in my home state. I asked her to list the twelve English tenses but could only provide five (not accordingly). She confessed that the last time she had a lesson on tenses was in secondary school. The second was another graduate of English seeking a teaching job. I was one of the interviewers. Again, I asked her to list and exemplify the twelve English tenses. Likewise, she could only supply four randomly. I always wonder what is so tricky in mastering English tenses, considering that one must use them whenever one writes or speaks.
We have three (3) main tenses. These are 1. Present tense 2. Past tense 3. Future tense. Each of the three tenses has four (4) aspects, as can be seen below:
1. simple present tense
2. Present continuous tense
3. Present perfect tense
4. Present perfect continuous tense
SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE
This tense expresses habitual/repeated actions, general truth, sports commentary, or news heading. Infinite or ‘s form of a verb is used alongside the subject (noun or pronoun). If the subject is either first person (I, we) or second person (you) or third person plural (they), use an infinitive form (go, wash, brush, fly, teach). But, if the subject is third person singular (he, she, it, Nuru, the boy, the teacher) or any singular indefinite pronoun (each, one of the…, everybody, someone etc.), use and ‘s form ( goes, washes, brushes, flies, teaches).
In other words, if the subject is singular, use a singular verb, while if the subject is plural, use a plural verb. REMEMBER that singular nouns do not have an ‘s (bag, boy, car, house), but singular verbs have an ‘s or ‘es( teaches, goes, cooks, sweeps, etc.). E.g., Subject + verb(s).
1. Nuru goes to school every day.
2. The children play football every day.
3. Dogs bark.
4. I like ice cream.
5. Mr president presents the 2022 budget.
6. Everybody knows the answer.
1. I goes to school (wrong)
2. He brush his teeth every day (wrong)
3. Musa teach English language (wrong)
PRESENT CONTINUOUS TENSE
This tense is a bit simple because it has only subject+auxiliary verb (is or are ) + verb in -ing form. This tense is used for ongoing activities.
1. The boy is reading.
2. The girl is cooking.
3. The students are writing.
4. We are jumping
5. He is sleeping
One should be careful to avoid using nouns and pronouns together as follows
1. Adamu he is reading. (wrong)
2. Zainab she is cooking. (wrong)
To be continued
Nuru Aliyu Bauchi teaches at Abubakar Tatari Ali Polu (ATAP), Bauchi State. He can be reached via email@example.com.
A nice job boy . More grease to your elbow . How I wish I can get a copy .
So true, I studied English minor, but have had to pause for a minute, to try and remember them offhand, when you said “Twelve Tenses”. We take these things for granted a lot and it could be embarrassing. Anyways, you wrote ‘Polu’ for ‘Poly’. *laughs*. But seriously, good read and keep it coming. 👍
I have been trying to master the twelve English tenses, but I am finding it hard. With the little you said, I have acquired a lot. I can’t wait to read the next episode.
Thank you very much.