Verb

Finite & Non-Finite Verbs

Finite and Non-finite Verbs:

Introduction:

He told me to go shopping.

(‘told’ – finite verb; ‘to go’ – non-finite verb; ‘shopping’ – non-finite verb)

Read the following sentences:

1.  They always find fault with me.

2.  She always finds fault with me.

3.  He found fault with me yesterday.

4.  They always try to find fault with me.

5.  She always tries to find fault with me.

6.  He tried to find fault with me yesterday.

In sentence 1, the verb ‘find’ has “they” for its subject, and as the subject “they” is a plural pronoun, the verb ‘find’ is also in the plural form in SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE.

In sentence 2, the verb ‘finds’ has “ She” for its subject, and as the subject “she” is a singular pronoun, the verb “find” is also in singular form ‘finds’, in simple present tense.

Note that most of the singular Nouns are changed to their plural number with the addition of ‘s’ or ‘es’, but the VERB WORD becomes singular with the addition of ‘s’ or ‘es’ in simple present tense!

For example:

This boy plays in the classroom.   [‘this boy’ noun – subject – singular number;  “plays” verb – singular (changed to singular with the addition of ‘s’) in SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE]

All the boys play in the classroom.  [‘boys’ noun – subject – plural number (changed to plural with the addition of ‘s’);  “play” verb – plural (without ‘s’) in simple present tense]

In sentence 3, the verb ‘found’ is used with yesterday, and the time frame being past, the verb word ‘find’ is changed into its past form ‘found’.

The verb word of a sentence which is limited by the person and number of the subject and the time frame – present, past and future – is called the FINITE VERB.  Every expression (subject) must have at least one Finite Verb in it!  All verb words in the ‘indicative’, ‘subjunctive’ and ‘imperative’ moods are FINITE.

Moods of the Verb:

*Indicative Mood: the form of a verb word in a sentence that tells us a fact — a simple statement.

**Subjunctive Mood: the form of a verb word in a sentence that expresses a wish, possibility or  uncertainty.

***Imperative Mood: the form of a verb in a sentence that expresses an order, request, command.

In sentences 4, 5, and 6, however, the verb word ‘try’ has taken the job of the verb word “find” in sentences 1, 2 and 3.  The verb ‘try’ is in its plural form in 4 because the subject ‘they’ is plural; in singular form in 5 because the subject ‘she’ is singular and in past form in 6 because the time frame (yesterday) is past.

But the verb word “find” in its ‘to-infinitive’ form – ‘to find’ — is the same in all three sentences – 4, 5 & 6.  It has not changed according to the person and number of the subject or the time frame in the sentence.

So the verb word which is not limited by the subject and the tense in any sentence is called the NON-FINITE VERB.

The Non-finite forms are:

past participle (V3)

present participle (‘ing’ form)

infinitive with to or to-infinitive

infinitive without to or bare-infinitive

gerund  & the verbal noun

{Let’s take the verb word “go” for example.}

present/finite

V1

past

V2

pastparticiple

V3

presentparticiple

‘ing’ from

to-infinitive bare-infinitive gerund& verbal noun
go/goes went gone going to go go going

The ‘past participle’ V3form and the ‘present participle’ ‘ing’ form are a special group.  They are used as parts of the verbs to form tenses and for other purposes also, but the ‘to-infinitive’, ‘bare-infinitive’, ‘gerund’ and ‘verbal noun’ forms are never used as verbs or parts of any verb.  Once a verb word is used in any one of these forms – ‘to-infinitive’, ‘bare-infinitive’, ‘gerund’ or ‘verbal noun’ — it loses the quality of being a main verb!

Clarification:

That man seems worried.   [worry – worried – worried – worrying — to worry — worry — worrying]

‘seems’ — finite verb; ‘worried – non-finite verb – past participle form of the verb word ‘worry’

We fought a losing battle.  [lose — lost — lost — losing — to lose — lose — losing]

‘fought’ – finite verb;  losing – non-finite verb – present participle form of “lose”

I made them do it again.     [do – did – done – doing – to do – do – doing]

‘made’ – finite verb; ‘do’ non-finite verb – the bare-infinitive form of “do”

He likes shooting.  [shoot – shot – shot – to shoot – shoot – shooting]

‘likes’ – finite verb;  ‘shooting’ – non-finite verb – the gerund form of “shoot”

Note: A verb word is given its name FINITE or NON-FINITE basing on its function and position in a sentence. We cannot generalise any verb word under any particular group unless that verb word is used in a sentence.

Nevertheless, there are certain verb words that always belong to a particular group, such as ANOMALOUS FINITE, etc. which we are going to discuss in the coming sub-topics.

It is to be noted that we do not make sentences or expressions just because we have learned some grammar rules; we learn grammar rules to express ourselves — what we think or need to express!

We discuss the rules of grammar more at this basic level because we all need a common system, a set of rules, to make everybody understand everybody else without much difficulty!!

It should not be like going to a railway-station and taking any train that you see on the platform just because it is there and ready to move; it must be like getting on the train that takes you to your destination even if  you have to wait for some time!!!

Let’s discuss each of the Non-finite forms in some detail – how they are used, when they are used and how to identify them…

The Participles – Present & Past:

e.g.   go/goes  —  went  —  gone —  going —  to go  —  go  —  going

1. Participles help us to form tenses…

e.g.

He is working in the garden.

‘is working’  the verb of this sentence  — one verb – two parts — present continuous tense

‘is’ showing the ‘present’ time and “working” – the present participle form of the verb word ‘work’ — showing ‘continuous’ action

She has gone home.

‘has gone’ the verb of this sentence one verb – two parts — present perfect tense

‘has’ showing the ‘present’ time and “gone” – the past participle form of the verb word ‘go’ – showing ‘completed’ action

2. Participles are used to qualify a noun or a pronoun, just as an adjective does…

e.g.

That singing boy is my cousin.

‘singing’ – present participle – telling us about the ‘boy’ – a noun, like an adjective

The faded roses will soon die.

‘faded’ — past participle – (fade – faded – faded – fading) telling us about the “roses” – a noun, like an adjective

Compare:

[Participles are used as a part of the main verb.]

This boy is singing well.

[‘singing’ – present participle – part of the verb ‘is singing’ showing continuous action — one verb, two parts]

Those roses faded.   [‘faded’ – past form V2 – (fade – faded – faded – fading) finite verb, showing what happened to those roses]

3. Participles are used as subjective complement of a verb…

e.g.

Her voice is pleasing.

‘Her voice’ – subject of the sentence

‘pleasing’ – present participle of the verb word ‘please’ – showing how ‘Her voice’, subject of sentence, is – so, it is called “the subject complement”

(‘is pleasing’ in this sentence is not “one verb, two parts”; it is like ‘Her voice is good.’ —  ‘good’ = an adjective — ‘Her voice is  pleasing.’  “pleasing”, in this context = ‘good to hear’, like an adjective)

Note: If a quality is expressed by the ‘ing’ form of a verb word when it is used as a complement, it is called a participle; when it expresses an action or a state of being, it is called a gerund.

Compare:

Her voice is pleasing.   [‘pleasing’ – complement – present participle]

He likes shooting.         [‘shooting’ – an action & object of verb – gerund]

4. Participles are used for forming phrases…

e.g.

The work having been done, we sat down to rest.

[‘having been done’ —  present participle phrase]

Frightened by the loud noise, the ox ran away.

[‘Frightened by the loud noise’ – frighten – frightened – frightened —  past participle phrase]

A special note:

A participle phrase should be placed as close as possible to the word it qualifies, otherwise ambiguity (confusion) may result; therefore, care should be taken to place the participle phrase attached to some noun or pronoun close to it.

a)  He saw two women sitting on his bed.

b)  Sitting on his bed, he saw two women.

In a), as the phrase is placed next to “women”, it qualifies this word and gives us the meaning that ‘the women were sitting on his bed’; in b), the phrase is placed close to the word “he” which it qualifies, thus giving us the meaning that ‘he was sitting on the bed’.

Compare:

The girl entering the room saw her uncle.

[The girl who was entering the room saw her uncle.]

On entering the room, the girl saw her uncle.

[While the girl was entering the room she saw her uncle.]

The girl saw her uncle entering the room.

[The girl saw her uncle when her uncle was entering the room.]

_______________

To-infinitive or Infinitive with to:

e.g.   go/goes  —  went  —  gone —  going —  to go —  go  —  going

1. The “to-infinitive” form is used when a verb word is to be used as a subject in a sentence…

e.g.

To understand all is to forgive all.

[‘to understand’ – “to-infinitive” form of the verb word ‘understand’ – subject of the sentence; ‘to forgive’ – “to-infinitive” form of the verb word ‘forgive’ – complement]

2. The “to-infinitive” form is used when a verb word is to be used as a subjective complement…

e.g.

Her greatest pleasure is to sing.

[‘her greatest pleasure’ – subject of the sentence;  ‘to sing’ – complement of that subject]

[please see item 3 under “participles –  present & past” above]

3. The “to-infinitive” form is used after the preposition “about” and the verb word “ought”…

e.g.  He is about to go.

You ought to go now.

4. The “to-infinitive” is used when a verb word is either an Object or an Object complement f such verb words as:

allow                      order                       command                              encouraged

*like                        *dislike                   *hate                                      prefer

love                        ant                          wish                                        declare

intend                    hold                        consider                                 require

believe                    suppose                 presume                                 expect

fancy

*admit

understand

own

confess

appear

arrange

attempt

be able

be apt

be bound

be due

be eager

be liable

be ready

be entitled

dash be

prepared

be reluctant

fail

guarantee

promise

offer

threaten

determine

bother

be relieved

Some verbs may take either a ‘to-infinitive’ or a “gerund” for their object, for example, the verb words which are marked (*) in the above-mentioned list can be used with either ‘to-infinitive’ or a “gerund”. This point is clearly explained later.

Some examples related to item 4:

He likes to dance.    [‘to dance’ – object of the verb]

He likes her to dance. [‘her’ object; ‘to dance’ – object complement]

I was allowed to go.       [‘I’ – subject; ‘to go’ – subject complement]

We expect to leave town early morning.   [‘to leave’ – object of the verb]

We expect him to leave town.   [‘him’ – object; ‘to leave’ object complement]

5. The “to-infinitive” is used after the ordinal numbers – first, second, last, etc…

e.g.

She was the first to go.

We are the last to go.

6. The “to-infinitive” is used after the ‘wh-’ words – who, what, which, how, etc…

e.g.

I don’t know what to do.

They asked me how to dress the baby.

7. The “to-infinitive” is used after ‘such…as’ and ‘so…as’…

e.g.

He acted in such a way as to make us think he was mad.

_______________

Bare-infinitive or Infinitive without ‘to’:

e.g.   go/goes  —  went  —  gone —  going —  to go  —  go —  going

1. The Bare-infinitive is used after verb words expressing some kind of perception,

such as see, watch, mark, observe, hear, know, feel, bid, let, and make…

Any activity that takes shape in the mind is ‘perception’; for example, “see” is a perception verb, but ‘look’ is an action verb, and “hear” is a perception verb, but ‘listen’ is an action verb.

The verb word “to know”, when it means ‘to see’ or ‘experience’, may be followed by an infinitive with or without ‘to’:

e.g.

I have never known him make a mistake.

or

I have never known him to make a mistake.

e.g.

We watched the procession go by.

[‘watched’ – finite verb; “go” – non-finite – bare-infinitive]

I will let you do it.

[‘will let’ — finite verb; “do” – non-finite – bare-infinitive]

2. Bare-infinitive form is used after such expressions as…

had better                             had rather                             had sooner

had as soon                           better than                            rather than

sooner than                          more than                             can but & cannot but

nothing but                           need only                              need hardly

e.g.

We had better go home now.

I had sooner run than walk.

_______________

The Gerund:

e.g.   go/goes  —  went  —  gone —  going —  to go  —  go  —  going

A Gerund is that part of a verb whose main function is that of a noun.  It does not as a result, forgo its verbal functions like other Non-finite forms.

Noun Functions of a Gerund:

a)  The subject of a verb:   Singing is a pleasant pastime.

b)  The object of a verb:    She likes singing.

c)  The object of a preposition:  We are fond of singing.

d)  The subjective complement of a verb:  Her favourite pastime is singing.

{In sentence d), “singing” is not the part of the verb ‘is singing’ as in the sentence: “She is singing.”; it is the complement of the subject “her favourite pastime’.  If the sentence is rewritten, ‘singing’ may become the subject: ‘Singing is her favourite pastime.’}

An example showing how a Gerund takes on the functions of a verb and a noun:

He likes teaching me English.

Here ‘teaching’ has the function of a noun as it is the Object of the verb ‘likes’

He likes… what? = teaching – object;

and it has the function of a verb as it has two objects:

he likes teaching… what? = English – direct object;

he likes teaching English… whom? = me – indirect object

{More on direct object & Indirect object at the sub-topic “Active-Passive Voice”}

A possessive adjective , or a noun or pronoun in possessive (genitive) case, is often used together with a gerund.  For example, “Please excuse my coming late.”

(‘my’ – possessive adjective of pronoun ‘I’; “coming” – gerund)

= “Please excuse me for coming late.”

“Have you heard of President’s being in the UK?”

(‘president’s’ – possessive case)

= “Have you heard that the President is in the UK?”

1. The gerund form is used after a preposition…

e.g.

You are late in coming.       She is tired of learning.

2. The gerund form is used after such words/expressions as…

*to attempt           *to begin               *to continue         *to forget

*to hate                 *to intend             *to like                   *to love

*to omit                 *to regret              *to remember      *to stop

without                  instead of              finish                      admit

insist on                 prevent from        mind (= object to)   practise

tired of                   be used to              worth                     approve of

can’t help              enjoy                      deny                       get through

go on (= continue)   keep on                 risk                          be looking forward to

give up (= stop)      forget about          it’s no use              consider

have the pleasure of                take the pleasure of           there is no harm

be accustomed to

appreciate             object to                succeed in             think of

busy                        quit                         count on                avoid

better of                fond of

Some noteworthy points:

The verb words marked (*) in the above list may also take a ‘to-infinitive’ form as their object. The meaning may be slightly different.  This point is clearly discussed in the next item.

At the beginning of a sentence “on” and the gerund are to mean ‘as soon as’…

e.g.

On coming into town, he got arrested.

= As soon as he came into town, he got arrested.

Followed by ‘for’ + gerund

e.g.

I criticised him for saying that.

= I criticised him because he had said that.

followed by ‘from’ + gerund

e.g.

I discouraged him from doing it.

= [He wanted to do it but I stopped him from that idea.]

__________

TO-INFINITIVE OR GERUND?

Both the to-infinitive and the gerund are almost similar in function.  Most of the verb words given in the lists above take either to-infinitive or gerund, however, the meaning is different.

Explanation:

a)  He stopped to talk.

b)  He stopped talking.

Sentence a) means that ‘he’ stopped whatever he was doing in order to talk.

Suppose he was writing something, he stopped that action to talk to somebody.

Sentence b) means that ‘he’ discontinued the action of talking to someone else probably because he was angry with that person or hurt because the other person insulted him – he was just sulking.

c)  I forgot to post the letter.

d)  I forgot posting the letter.

Sentence c) means that I should have posted the letter long ago but I did not post it; it is still with me.

Sentence d) means that I do not quite remember whether I posted the letter or not; the letter is not with me, so I must have posted it, but I do not remember going to the post box or post office and putting the letter in the box.

_______________

The Verbal Noun:

e.g.   go/goes  —  went  —  gone —  going —  to go  —  go  —  going

A verbal noun, although formed from a verb word, is a pure noun.  As such it has only one form ending in ‘ing’ form.  It cannot be used in Active and Passive Voice or in any tense.

Examples:

We listened to the playing of the music band.

[‘the playing’  — verbal noun – object of preposition ‘to’ – no plural form]

This town has beautiful surroundings.

[‘surroundings’ —  verbal noun – object of verb ‘has’ – no singular form]

Compare:

a)  This road has a sharp turning.

[‘turning’ – verbal noun – plural “turnings”]

b)  The turning of the handle made me tired.

[‘the turning’ – verbal noun – no plural]

but…

c)  I am tired of turning the handle.

[‘turning’ – object of preposition ‘of’ – gerund — ‘I am tired of turning’ …. what? = “the handle” — object]

*******************************************

What a sentence!

A useful titbit…

She’s going camping, starting next week.

This sentence has three ‘ing’ forms in it, one right after the other!  This type of sentences may cause some confusion.  But take a closer look and you will see that it is as simple as any other sentence.

The first ‘ing’ form is the present participle – ‘is going’; the second one is a noun (gerund) and the third one, present participle, is used in place of a full verb — for instance, “which is starting or which starts..” — a phrase!

{Remember that words like ‘camping’, ‘shopping’, ‘swimming’, ‘skiing’, etc. are never used with a preposition before them when they are used with the main (finite) verb “go”. e.g. “We are going to shopping.” (wrong); “We are going shopping.” (right) “She likes to go to swimming.” (wrong); “She likes to go swimming.” (right).}

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Before concluding this topic, the learners must note an important point:

It is not the end of the topic but only the beginning!  Because…

No one single book or course material can include all the rules and important points on any one particular topic.  There are many, many things one needs to learn.  And one learner may understand a particular point more easily than the other.

It is a matter of a particular learner’s ability that determines the time needed to learn a topic!

Some rules are deliberately avoided in this topic just to give the learner some food for thought! So, come up with your ‘quarries’ and make learning a lively interactive task.

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Tense: Future Perfect Continuous

Future

4. Future Perfect Continuous

formula:  will/shall + have + been + the present participle (ing) form of the Main Verb

go/goes  —  went  —  gone  — going

walk/walks  —  walked  —  walked  — walking

♥ ‘Future Perfect’ is used to express an action that is supposed to be going on for a period of time, with the possibility of continuing further, at a given time or another activity in the future…

e.g.

He will have been sleeping for eight hours by the time we reach his home and wake him up.

She shall have been dancing for three hours by the end of the programme.

____________________

More about ‘Shall’ & ‘Will’:

The contracted form of ‘will not’ is “won’t” and the contracted form of ‘shall not’ is “shan’t”. The verbs ‘will’ and ‘shall’ are most often used in their short form with an apostrophe, e.g. I will = I’ll; She will = she’ll; they will = they’ll, and I shall = I’ll; he shall = he’ll; we shall = we’ll; therefore, the fundamental difference between ‘will’ and ‘shall’ is not given very much importance these days.  However, there is no harm in having a quick look at the difference:

Shall

“Shall” with the First Person subject of a sentence expresses ‘simple futurity’; with the Second Person and Third Person, it may express a command, promise, threat, determination, etc.

e.g.  I shall go at once.  [ I – First Person — simple futurity]

You shall go at once.  [you – Second Person – a command]

He shall be dismissed for negligence of duty.  [He – Third Person – a threat]

You all shall get some reward if you work hard.  [you – Second Person – a promise.]

Will

“Will” with the Second and Third Person subject of a sentence expresses ‘simple futurity’; with the First Person, it expresses determination, threat, willingness, etc.

These two rules are not given much importance these days because we use  ’ll, the contracted form of either ‘will’ or ‘shall’.

And there is little difference if it is ‘shall’ or ‘will’.  For example, “He’ll meet us at the airport.” in this sentence “He’ll” can be ‘He will’ or ‘He shall’.

When we actually want to show the difference, we use the word ‘will’ or ‘shall’ in full or rephrase the entire sentence to give us the desired meaning.

____________________

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Tense: Future Perfect

Future

3. Future Perfect

formula:  will/shall + have + the past participle V3 form of the Main Verb

go/goes  —  went  — gone —  going

walk/walks  —  walked  — walked —  walking

♣ ‘Future Perfect’ is used to express an action that is supposed to have completed before/at a given time or another activity in the future, covering a period of time…

e.g.

She shall have prepared all the notes by this time tomorrow.

We will have taken our final course by the end of this year.

____________________

More about ‘Shall’ & ‘Will’:

The contracted form of ‘will not’ is “won’t” and the contracted form of ‘shall not’ is “shan’t”. The verbs ‘will’ and ‘shall’ are most often used in their short form with an apostrophe, e.g. I will = I’ll; She will = she’ll; they will = they’ll, and I shall = I’ll; he shall = he’ll; we shall = we’ll; therefore, the fundamental difference between ‘will’ and ‘shall’ is not given very much importance these days.  However, there is no harm in having a quick look at the difference:

Shall

“Shall” with the First Person subject of a sentence expresses ‘simple futurity’; with the Second Person and Third Person, it may express a command, promise, threat, determination, etc.

e.g.  I shall go at once.  [ I – First Person — simple futurity]

You shall go at once.  [you – Second Person – a command]

He shall be dismissed for negligence of duty.  [He – Third Person – a threat]

You all shall get some reward if you work hard.  [you – Second Person – a promise.]

Will

“Will” with the Second and Third Person subject of a sentence expresses ‘simple futurity’; with the First Person, it expresses determination, threat, willingness, etc.

These two rules are not given much importance these days because we use  ’ll, the contracted form of either ‘will’ or ‘shall’.

And there is little difference if it is ‘shall’ or ‘will’.  For example, “He’ll meet us at the airport.” in this sentence “He’ll” can be ‘He will’ or ‘He shall’.

When we actually want to show the difference, we use the word ‘will’ or ‘shall’ in full or rephrase the entire sentence to give us the desired meaning.

____________________

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Tense: Future Continuous

Future

2. Future Continuous

formula:  will/shall + be + the present participle (‘ing’) form of the Main Verb

go/goes  —  went  —  gone  — going

walk/walks  —  walked  —  walked  — walking

♦ ‘Future Continuous’ is used to express an action supposed to be going on at/before a given time (or an activity) in the future…

e.g.

We are late.  The teacher will be giving the lesson by the time we get to our classroom.

My daughter will be sleeping when I get home tonight.

His friend will be driving him home at noon tomorrow.

____________________

More about ‘Shall’ & ‘Will’:

The contracted form of ‘will not’ is “won’t” and the contracted form of ‘shall not’ is “shan’t”. The verbs ‘will’ and ‘shall’ are most often used in their short form with an apostrophe, e.g. I will = I’ll; She will = she’ll; they will = they’ll, and I shall = I’ll; he shall = he’ll; we shall = we’ll; therefore, the fundamental difference between ‘will’ and ‘shall’ is not given very much importance these days.  However, there is no harm in having a quick look at the difference:

Shall

“Shall” with the First Person subject of a sentence expresses ‘simple futurity’; with the Second Person and Third Person, it may express a command, promise, threat, determination, etc.

e.g.  I shall go at once.  [ I – First Person — simple futurity]

You shall go at once.  [you – Second Person – a command]

He shall be dismissed for negligence of duty.  [He – Third Person – a threat]

You all shall get some reward if you work hard.  [you – Second Person – a promise.]

Will

“Will” with the Second and Third Person subject of a sentence expresses ‘simple futurity’; with the First Person, it expresses determination, threat, willingness, etc.

These two rules are not given much importance these days because we use  ’ll, the contracted form of either ‘will’ or ‘shall’.

And there is little difference if it is ‘shall’ or ‘will’.  For example, “He’ll meet us at the airport.” in this sentence “He’ll” can be ‘He will’ or ‘He shall’.

When we actually want to show the difference, we use the word ‘will’ or ‘shall’ in full or rephrase the entire sentence to give us the desired meaning.

____________________

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Tense: Simple Future

Future

1. Simple Future

formula:  will/shall + the bare-infinitive form of the Main Verb

go/goes  —  went  —  gone  —  going  —  to go  — go —  going

walk/walks — walked — walked — walking — to walk — walk — walking

♥ ‘Simple Future’ is used to express an action that is supposed to take place in the Future; the action may happen or may not happen because it is jus a supposition…

e.g.

shall meet you next week.

The doctor will be with you soon.

We shall do it tomorrow.

Nobody will know that you are here.

A Special Point:

When the main verb in the introductory clause is in the Simple Future, the main verb in the subordinate clause may bein ANY TENSE that the context requires:

e.g.

He will think that she is there.

[‘will think’ — simple future – main clause —– ‘is’ – simple present – sub-clause]

He will think that she was there.

[‘will think’ – simple future – main clause —– ‘was’ – simple past – sub-clause]

He will think that she will be there.

[‘will think’ – simple future – main clause —— ‘will be’ – simple future – sub-clause]

For more on CLAUSES go to the topic: SENTENCE.

____________________

More about ‘Shall’ & ‘Will’:

The contracted form of ‘will not’ is “won’t” and the contracted form of ‘shall not’ is “shan’t”. The verbs ‘will’ and ‘shall’ are most often used in their short form with an apostrophe, e.g. I will = I’ll; She will = she’ll; they will = they’ll, and I shall = I’ll; he shall = he’ll; we shall = we’ll; therefore, the fundamental difference between ‘will’ and ‘shall’ is not given very much importance these days.  However, there is no harm in having a quick look at the difference:

Shall

“Shall” with the First Person subject of a sentence expresses ‘simple futurity’; with the Second Person and Third Person, it may express a command, promise, threat, determination, etc.

e.g.  I shall go at once.  [ I – First Person — simple futurity]

You shall go at once.  [you – Second Person – a command]

He shall be dismissed for negligence of duty.  [He – Third Person – a threat]

You all shall get some reward if you work hard.  [you – Second Person – a promise.]

Will

“Will” with the Second and Third Person subject of a sentence expresses ‘simple futurity’; with the First Person, it expresses determination, threat, willingness, etc.

These two rules are not given much importance these days because we use  ’ll, the contracted form of either ‘will’ or ‘shall’.

And there is little difference if it is ‘shall’ or ‘will’.  For example, “He’ll meet us at the airport.” in this sentence “He’ll” can be ‘He will’ or ‘He shall’.

When we actually want to show the difference, we use the word ‘will’ or ‘shall’ in full or rephrase the entire sentence to give us the desired meaning.

____________________

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Tense: Present Perfect Continuous

Present

4. Present Perfect Continuous

formula:  has/have + been + the present participle (‘ing’) form of the Main Verb

go/goes  —  went  —  gone —  going

walk/walks  —  walked  —  walked  — walking

♦ ‘Present Perfect Continuous’ is used to express an action started in the past, continued up to the time of speaking (present time) and has a chance of continuing in the Future…

e.g.

He has been reading that book for the last four hours.

6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m.     8:00 p.m.    9:00 p.m.    10:00 p.m.     11:00 p.m.

// →     →     →     →     →     →     →     →     →     →     →     →     →     →     → //

{Suppose the present time is 10:00 p.m. – he started to read at 6:00 p.m. and still reading at 10:00 (present) and may continue to read.}

____________________

Before going into the Future Tense, we need to discuss an important point related to the “Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous” Tenses.

We have seen that in the above-mentioned examples, there are two words – for and since – used with the time frame.  We are bound to make mistakes in using them. Therefore, let’s see how and when we must use them with the time frame:

‘Since’ is used with a point of time.   ‘For’ is used with a period of time.

For example:

She has done a lot of writing since morning.

‘morning’ point of time with ‘since’

He has stood there staring at her for an hour.

‘an hour’ period of time with ‘for’

They have been arguing with us since 9:00 O’clock.

‘9:00 O’clock’ point of time with ‘since’

You have used my car for nine hours now.

‘nine hours’ period of time with ‘for’

We have been learning English since 2008.

‘year 2008’ point of time with ‘since’

We have learned English for eight years.

‘eight years’ period of time with ‘for’

We calculate the “point of time” from the time or date frame mentioned in the sentence to the present time or date, and the ‘period of time’ from the present time or date to the past backwards:  ‘since 2002’ is from the year 2002 to the present year 2009, for instance, i.e. seven years; and ‘for seven years’ is starting from the present year 2009 backwards to 2002.  Both expressions here give us the same time period but the usage is different: with “point of time” we use ‘since’ and with “period of time” we use ‘for’.

____________________

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Tense: Present Perfect

Present

3. Present Perfect

formula:  has/have + the past participle V3 form of the Main Verb

go/goes  —  went  — gone —  going

walk/walked  —  walked —  walked —  walking

♣ ‘Present Perfect’ is used to express an action that is just completed…

e.g.

He has just gone out.

She has finished typing the letter.

♣ ♣ ‘Present Perfect’ is used to express an action completed in the past, without ever mentioning the time, except such words as already, before etc. but with some connection to the present time…

e.g.

They have already seen that film on TV.

[so they may not like to see it again]

Mr. A. :   “Would you like some coffee?”

Mr. B.  :   “No, thanks.  I have just had one.” [so I don’t want to have any more]

♣ ♣ ♣ ‘Present Perfect’ is used to express an action started in the Past and continued to the Present, covering a period of time

e.g.

They have played the game for three hours now.

She has typed six letters since 10 in the morning.

9:00 a.m.    10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m.    12:00 noon    1:00 p.m.

// →     →     →     →     →     →     →     →     → //

{Suppose the present time is 1:00 p.m. – She started to type letters at 10:00 at now at 1:00 she finished typing six letters.}

____________________

Before going into the Future Tense, we need to discuss an important point related to the “Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous” Tenses.

We have seen that in the above-mentioned examples, there are two words – for and since – used with the time frame.  We are bound to make mistakes in using them. Therefore, let’s see how and when we must use them with the time frame:

‘Since’ is used with a point of time.   ‘For’ is used with a period of time.

For example:

She has done a lot of writing since morning.

‘morning’ point of time with ‘since’

He has stood there staring at her for an hour.

‘an hour’ period of time with ‘for’

They have been arguing with us since 9:00 O’clock.

‘9:00 O’clock’ point of time with ‘since’

You have used my car for nine hours now.

‘nine hours’ period of time with ‘for’

We have been learning English since 2008.

‘year 2008’ point of time with ‘since’

We have learned English for eight years.

‘eight years’ period of time with ‘for’

We calculate the “point of time” from the time or date frame mentioned in the sentence to the present time or date, and the ‘period of time’ from the present time or date to the past backwards:  ‘since 2002’ is from the year 2002 to the present year 2009, for instance, i.e. seven years; and ‘for seven years’ is starting from the present year 2009 backwards to 2002.  Both expressions here give us the same time period but the usage is different: with “point of time” we use ‘since’ and with “period of time” we use ‘for’.

____________________

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Tense: Present Continuous

Present

2. Present Continuous

(also called ‘Present Progressive Tense’)

formula:  am/is/are + the present participle (‘ing’) form of the Main Verb

go/goes  —  went  —  gone  — going

walk/walks  —  walked  —  walked —  walking

♥ ‘Present Continuous’ is used to express an action going at the present…

e.g.

You are reading the lesson now.

am listening to the news on TV; please, don’t disturb me.

She is driving her own car; see how confident she is!

♥ ♥ ‘Present Continuous’ is used to express a Future action when the activity is almost certain to happen…

e.g.  We are going to play chess with them tomorrow.

♥ ♥ ♥ ‘Present Continuous’ is used to express a present habitual action in a negative sense…

e.g.  That little boy is always running on to the street.

[= the speaker does not approve of that little boy running on to the street]

My neighbour’s dog is barking all night, every night.

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Tense: Simple Present

Present

1. Simple Present

(also called ‘Present Simple’)

formula:  the Present/finite or V1 form of the Main Verb

go/goes —  went  —  gone  —  going

walk/walks —  walked  —  walked   —  walking

[‘Go’ and ‘walk’ are used with subjects in first person singular or plural, second person singular or plural and third person plural; ‘goes’ and ‘walks’ are used with subjects in 3rd person singular number only.]

♦ ‘Simple Present’ is used to express a present regular or habitual action…

e.g.  I go to work every day.

We work hard to improve our standards.

Our bank is the largest of all in the town.

♦ ♦ ‘Simple Present’ is used to express a universal truth or an action that is common or natural everywhere and every time…

e.g.

The Sun rises in the East.

The Earth is round. {not a perfect circle, though, but it is a common saying}

Rivers flow into the oceans.  {not all the rivers, but it is a common saying}

♦ ♦ ♦ ‘Simple Present’ is used to express a Past historical event in the present time to make it more interesting, and is often called ‘historic present’…

e.g.

Tippu Sultan was a ruler of a place called Mysore in British India.  He revolted against the British.  He waged several wars.

These are the historical facts happened in the past (1782 — 1799) but while telling this story in the present time, the ‘simple present’ tense is used to make those facts look more realistic:

Tippu Sultan asks the British to leave his kingdom, but when the British do not listen to him, he revolts against them and wages several wars.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ‘Simple Present’ is used to express a Future action when the activity is cent per cent confirmed…

e.g.

We go to Sydney this summer.  [= we have made all arrangements; just waiting for the summer vacation to start]

A Special Point:

When the main verb in the introductory clause is in the Present Tense, the main verb in the subordinate clause may be in ANY TENSE that the context requires:

e.g.

He thinks that she is there.

[‘thinks’ – simple present – main clause —— ‘is’ — simple present – sub-clause]

He thinks that she was there.

[‘thinks’ – simple present – main clause —— ‘was’ — simple past –  sub-clause]

He thinks that she will be there.

[‘thinks’ – simple present – main clause ——- ‘will be’ – simple future – sub-clause]

For more on CLAUSES go to the topic: SENTENCE.

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Tense: Past Perfect Continuous

Past

4. Past Perfect Continuous

formula:  had + been + the ‘present participle’ (‘ing’) form of the Main Verb

go/goes  —  went  —  gone  — going

walk/walks  —  walked  —  walked —  walking

♣ ‘Past Perfect Continuous’ is used to express an action being done for a period of time and having a chance of continuing for some more time before another past action began…

[‘Past Perfect Continuous’ is also used to change a ‘past continuous tense’ in the Direct Speech into Indirect Speech.]

e.g.

We had been watching TV for two hours when the power failed.

6:00 p.m. —  7:00 p.m.  —  8:00 p.m.  —  9:00 p.m. —  10:00 p.m.

{Suppose the present time is ‘9:00 p.m.’ – we started to watch TV at 6:00; there was a power cut at 8:00; and so we watched TV from 6:00 to 8:00 – two hours in the past}

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