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Tenses:

Verbs are the words that portray action. The can tell you about a
certain event, some action taking place or even how a person/object is.
Verbs are Action Words!
For eg: I was jumping with joy when I got the Harvard admission
email
I dont feel that good
What is up with these children running all around the house
Vanessa realized she had not completed her assignment that was due
today
The underlined words in the above sentences are all verbs.
There are 4 attributes of a verb
1) The count singular or plural
2) Tense or timing of the sentence
3) Mood of the sentence
4) Voice active or passive
Tense:
Tenses show the time of the action or the state indicated by the verb.
You might remember from your schooldays that there are 3 types of
tenses Past, Present and Future, and each of them is further divided
into Simple, Continuous (also known as Progressive), Perfect and
Perfect Continuous.
There are keywords for each tenses
Simple Past went, left, lost, won, celebrated
Past Continuous were going, were leaving, were losing, were winning,
were celebrating (can use was instead of were if singular)
Past Perfect had went, had left, had lost, had won, had celebrated
Past Perfect Continuous had been going, had been leaving, had been
losing, had been winning, had been celebrating
Simple Present go, leave, lose, win, celebrate (can use the s or es
form if singular. For eg: goes, leaves, etc.)
Present Continuous are going, are leaving, are losing, are winning,
are celebrating (can use is or be instead of are if singular)
Present Perfect has went, has left, has lost, has won, has celebrated

Present Perfect Continuous has been going, has been leaving, has
been losing, has been winning, has been celebrating (can use have
instead of has if plural)
Simple Future will go, will leave, will lose, will win, will celebrate (can
use shall too in case of I and We)
Future Continuous will be going, will be leaving, will be losing, will be
winning, will be celebrating
Future Perfect will have gone, will have left, will have lost, will have
won, will have celebrated
Future Perfect Continuous will have been going, will have been
leaving, will have been losing, will have been winning, will have been
celebrating
So, continuous involves a -ing form of the verb.
The perfect involves has, have, had or will have, depending on the
tense.
The perfect continuous is simply Perfect + Continuous, i.e. has, have,
had or will have + -ing form of the verb.
Now, we will categorize these tenses in a slightly different manner such
that they indicate the actual time of occurrence. At first it may sound
really weird as to why do we need a different type of categorization,
but lets take an example and understand this.
They have left for the movie theatre
What is the tense of the verb left?
There is a have so it has to be present perfect. It is not present
perfect continuous because the verb is left and not leaving. So,
Present Perfect
Now, the word Present in Present Perfect makes us think that the
event is still happening. But, is the action in the sentence still
happening?
The sentence says They have left for.., i.e. they have already left.
In other words, the action of leaving happened at some time in the
past and not present. This is one of the most common confusion that
candidates face while answering SC questions on tenses.
To simplify this problem, we are categorizing tenses by the actual time
of occurrence of events.
Event actually occurring Now; in Present Simple Present
Present Continuous

Event has actually occurred; in the Past

Simple Past
Past Continuous
Present Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect
Past Perfect Continuous
Event is yet to occur; in the Future
Simple Future
Future Continuous
Using going to
There are more ways to refer to future events, well get to them soon.
Lets explore some more things about tenses first.
1) Simple Tenses:
Universal facts are always stated in the simple present tense.
For eg: The sun rises in the east
Ice is lighter than water
Most of the definitions should also be made in Simple Present Tense.
Simple tenses (Simple Present, Simple Past, or Simple Future) are used
to refer to routine events or undisputed facts.
The GMAT focuses on brevity and clarity. The Simple tenses are both
concise and clear. Therefore, as far as possible, one should prefer
choosing options containing Simple tenses.
Here we would also like to highlight the difference among a few words
used Simple Future Tense.
Will vs Shall:
There is no major difference, and will is used universally. Still, if
somewhere you have to break the tie, prefer using Shall for 1 st
person words like I or We.
For eg: I shall not tolerate their nonsense anymore.
Will vs Would:
Will is used to
a) talk about future
b) make commitments and offers

c) what one wants to do


d) express conditional statements (in present tense)
Would is used
a) as past form of will
b) in conditional statements (in past tense)
c) to show politeness
For eg:
I believe Hillary will win the next Presidential Election
I promise you that I will come and see you in Sicily
I hope the bank will sanction my loan
Would you please help me carry this bulky suitcase?
Using conditional statements requires a careful consideration of the
tense used.
If the Blackcaps win the World Cup, it will represent an extraordinary
comeback from their shabby performance in the last edition
Here the verb in the first half of the sentence win is in the present
tense; therefore, the word will is used in the second half.
However, If the Blackcaps won the World Cup, it would represent an
extraordinary comeback from their shabby performance in the last
edition
Here the verb in the first half of the sentence won is in the past
tense; therefore, the word would is used in the second half.
2) Present Continuous Tense:
Continuous tenses indicate Work In Progress, i.e. an ongoing
action.
Take care not to use a Present Continuous tenses to indicate
future actions. It is one of the most common grammatical errors
we make in everyday spoken English.
For eg: Tom and Sandra are meeting for dinner tomorrow.
WRONG!

---

The correct sentence is Tom and Sandra will meet for dinner
tomorrow

In other words, use the simple tense.


3) Perfect Tenses:
Perfect tenses are used to indicate multiple durations of time. A
Perfect tense goes back in time and connects the tense in
question (past, present or future) to an event that took place
back in time.
Therefore, Perfect Tenses are essentially, Past of the given tense.
The Perfect Tense can be used to establish the occurrence of two
or more events as well.
The Past Perfect Tense; for instance, is used to describe events
that took place way behind in the past and continued to another
point in the past. In other words, Past Perfect Tense talks about
the Past of the Past Tense.

For eg: The plane had left by the time they reached the airport
The sentence says that the plane had left before they could
reach the airport.
Notice the fact that, the earlier past event is represented by a
Past Perfect Tense, and the later past event is represented by a
Simple Past Tense.
The Past Perfect Tense can also be used to establish the timeline
of 2 events that occurred in the past.
Jackie knew that John and Mary had been close friends since
college
The verb with Simple Past Tense knew obviously occurred after
the verb with Past Perfect Tense had been close friends.

The Present Perfect Tense is used to describe events; or their


effects, that began in the past and are still continuing in the
present.

For eg: Rob has walked 4 kilometers


The above sentence indicates that Rob has walked 4 kilometers
and is still walking.
However Rob walked 4 kilometers
The above sentence indicates that Rob has walked 4 kilometers
at some time in the past.
Just look at what have you done to my house
I have left the airport
The sentences indicates the present effect of an action done in
the past. Again, present perfect tense is used here.
Usually, there cant be 2 perfect tenses in a single sentence.

Rob completed his homework, but his dog ate it

This sentence says that Rob completed his homework at some


point in the past, and his dog ate his homework at some point in
the past. Both the events are possible in the past tense; hence,
the timeline is correct. The sentence; therefore, is also correct.

Rob completed his homework, but his dog has eaten it

This sentence says that Rob completed his homework at some


point in the past, and his dog started eating his homework and is
still eating it (present perfect tense is used). This is again

possible and the timeline is consistent. Therefore, this sentence


is also correct.

Rob has completed his homework, but his dog has eaten
it

This sentence says that Rob has finished his homework at some
point in the past and now it is complete, and his dog has started
eating his homework at some point in the past and is still eating
it.
So, what is the present state of the homework? Is it completed or
has it been eaten by the dog???
This sentence is ambiguous as the timeline is not consistent.
Hence, this sentence is wrong.
The Future Perfect Tense is used to describe events that are
going to occur in the past from a future point of view. In other
words, Future Perfect talks about the Past of the Future.

For eg: By the Year 2022, the world will have witnessed two
more Olympic Games.
What we just illustrated above is how to find out whether the tenses
are correctly used or not by checking for timeline consistency.
Moods:
Moods are another important attribute of a verb (after count and
tenses). They essentially tell you the intent of what is being said in the
sentence. There are 3 moods of a verb
1) Indicative:
The ubiquitous mood; the most basic of them all. It is present in
almost all sentences.

For eg: Jack is singing Roadhouse Blues


That raw salmon is stinking
2) Imperative:
These are used to express commands or request.
For eg: Thou shall not kill
Youd better mend your ways; otherwise the punishment would
be severe
3) Subjunctive:
The most important mood from the GMAT perspective. The
subjunctive mood often sounds wrong, and that is the reason
why you should be extra cautious with this one.
The subjunctive mood is used to represent something imaginary,
hypothetical or wishful.
Which is correct
(a) If I was the Prime Minister, I would reduce the service tax
(b)If I were the Prime Minister, I would reduce the service tax
I is singular and hence we should ideally use was.
But, the second one is right.
We use were because it is a hypothetical situation and we have
a subjunctive mood.
Other examples of subjunctive mood are
I demand that you leave my house right now
I want you to go to your classroom
Think of a multiverse as if it were a book containing sheet of
paper that represent a universe.
The Judge thinks it is essential that the residents be heard
The cases where the subjunctive is used are described below:
1) Conjecturing:
Subjunctives are used to talk about hypothetical or unreal
situations. For eg:
If she were to win the jackpot, she would buy a big house
Gerry couldnt understand the Gamma Ray Effect, so I
explained it to him as though he were a character from the
Star Wars.

The first one is a typical example of the If conjecturing..


Remember that we use the plural were even when the
subject she is singular. The reason is the mood is that of
speculating and imagining situations.
2) Expressing wishes or giving orders:
These are the ones that most of the test-takers get wrong. Its
because we normally dont use sentences like these in
everyday life.
While giving orders with the word be the sentence can
sound a bit awkward.
I really wish that you be a winner
The Passport Office requires that you be ushered into the
Tribunal at 10 AM
Also, focus on the word that in the above sentences. Some
order-words would use the word that and some not.
Order-words that use that are recommend, suggest,
demand, request, insist
For eg: I suggest that you be present in the scrum call
tomorrow.
He insisted that I be present at his wedding
Order-words that dont use that are want, allow, advise
For eg: The boss wants him to go to his home at 4
They allow the dog to stay in the hotel room
Take care that if these subjunctives were used with that the
sentence would be incorrect
The boss wants that he go to his home at 4 --- WRONG
They allow that the dog stay in the hotel room --- WRONG
The above 2 sentences are wrong. The subjunctives if used
correctly, would not have a -s or an -es after a singular
noun.
For eg: We normally say He goes to his home at 4
The dog stays in the hotel room
But, with subjunctives, we say

. Him to go to his home at 4


. the dog to stay in the hotel room
and so on