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Golden Grammar Rules that help you improve your English

Use the simple present play(s), rain(s) etc to talk about habits and
repeated actions.

I play tennis every Saturday. (NOT I am playing tennis every Saturday.)


It usually rains a lot in November.

Use the present progressive am playing, is raining etc to talk about


things that are happening around the time of speaking.

Im playing very badly today. (NOT I play very badly today.).


Look! Its raining! (NOT Look! It rains!)

Dont use the present perfect have/has seen, have/has gone etc - with
words that name a finished time.

I saw him yesterday. (NOT I have seen him yesterday.)


They went to Greece last summer. (NOT They have gone last summer.)

Golden Grammar Rules are written by Michael Swan, author of Practical English Usage.
Find out more about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.
For a more detailed explanation, please refer to the extracts from Practical English Usage.

PHOTOCOPIABLE Michael Swan 2008


Golden Grammar Rules that help you improve your English

Dont use the to talk about things in general.

Books are expensive. (NOT The books are expensive.)


I love music. (NOT I love the music.)

Use for with a period of time.


Use since with the beginning of the period.

for the last two hours = since 9 oclock


for three days = since Monday (BUT NOT since three days)
for five years = since I left school
For more details, see PEU 460

Dont separate the verb from the object.

verb obj

She speaks English very well. (NOT She speaks very well English.)
Andy likes skiing very much. (NOT Andy likes very much skiing)
For more details, see PEU 611

Golden Grammar Rules are written by Michael Swan, author of Practical English Usage.
Find out more about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.
For a more detailed explanation, please refer to the extracts from Practical English Usage.

PHOTOCOPIABLE Michael Swan 2008


I hear youre working at Smiths. Yes, Ive been working there for a month.
(N OT Im working there for . . .)
I know her well.
Ive known her for years. (NO T I know her for years.)
My brothers a doctor.
How long has he been a doctor? (N OT How long is he a doctor?)
Compare also:
How long are you here for? (= until when; when are you leaving?)
Golden Grammar
How long have Rules
you been here for? (= since when; when did you arrive?)
These detailed explanations are taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
Find out
For more aboutbetween
the difference PEU in simple
the online catalogue
and progressive at www.oup.com/elt.
forms, see 459.
For the difference between since and for, see 208.
For tenses with since, see 522.

2 This
Use the simple is the first
present time etc rain(s) etc to talk about habits and
play(s),
We use a simple present perfect after this is the first time that . . . , its the
repeated actions.
second . . . that . . . , and similar structures (see 591).
This is the first time that Ive heard her sing. (NOT This is the first time that I
hear her sing.)
I play tennis every Saturday. (NOT I am playing tennis every Saturday.)
Its the fifth time youve asked me the same question.
This is only the second opera Ive ever seen.

It usually rainsFora present


lot in November.
perfect and simple present passives with similar meanings (e.g. The shop has
been / is closed), see 420.

461 present tenses (1): introduction


1 the two present tenses
Most English verbs have two present tenses. Forms like I wait, she thinks are
called simple present or present simple; forms like I am waiting or shes
thinking are called present progressive or present continuous. The two
present tenses are used in different ways.

2 general time: simple present


When we talk about permanent situations, or about things that happen
regularly or all the time (not just around now), we usually use the simple
present (see 462463 for details).
My parents live near Dover. Water freezes at 08 Celsius.
I go to London about three times a week.

3 around now: present progressive


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When we talk about temporary continuing actions and events, which are just
going on now or around now, we usually use a present progressive tense (see
464 for details).
What are you doing?Impresent tenses (2): simple present (forms) 462
reading.
Im travelling a lot these days.
4 future time
Both present tenses can be used to talk about the future.
Ill meet you when you arrive.
Come and see us next week if youre passing through London.
page 448
For the differences, see 463464, 466.

462 present tenses (2): simple present (forms)


M11072 OUP Practical English Usage (PEU) Tradespools, Frome, Somerset
1 forms

Affirmative Question Negative


I work do I work? I do not work
you work do you work? you do not work
he/she/it works does he/she/it work? he/she/it does not work
we work do we work? we do not work
they work do they work? they do not work

Contracted negatives (see 143): I dont work, he doesnt work etc


Negative questions (see 368): do I not work? or dont I work? etc
For passives (e.g. The work is done), see 412.

2 spelling of third person singular forms


PHOTOCOPIABLE Michael Swan 2008
Most verbs: work ? works
add -s to infinitive sit ? sits
stay ? stays
1 forms

Affirmative Question Negative


I work do I work? I do not work
you work do you work? you do not work
he/she/it works does he/she/it work? he/she/it does not work
we work do we work? we do not work
they work do they work? they do not work
Golden Grammar Rules
These detailed explanations
Contracted negatives are
(seetaken
143): from Practical
I dont English
work, he workby
Usage
doesnt etcMichael Swan.
Find out more about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.
Negative questions (see 368): do I not work? or dont I work? etc
For passives (e.g. The work is done), see 412.

2 spelling of third person singular forms

Most verbs: work ? works


add -s to infinitive sit ? sits
stay ? stays
Verbs ending in consonant + y: cry ? cries
change y to i and add -es hurry ? hurries
reply ? replies
But (vowel + y): enjoy ? enjoys
Verbs ending in -s, -z, -ch, -sh or -x: miss ? misses
add -es to infinitive buzz ? buzzes
watch ? watches
push ? pushes
fix ? fixes
Exceptions: have ? has
go ? goes
do ? does

3 pronunciation of third
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The pronunciation of the -(e)s ending depends on the sound that comes before
it. The rules are the same as for the plural -(e)s ending see 525.
present
Irregular pronunciations: says tenses
(/sez/, /seIz/);
not (3): simple
doespresent not /du;z/).
(/dVz/,(use) 463

463 present tenses (3): simple present (use)


page 449

1 general time: It always rains in November


We often use the simple present to talk about permanent situations, or about
things that happen
M11072 regularly,
OUP Practical repeatedly
English Usage (PEU) or allTradespools,
the time. Frome, Somerset

What do frogs eat? (NOT What are frogs eating?)


It always rains here in November.
I play tennis every Wednesday.
Alice works for an insurance company.

2 not used for things happening just around the present


PHOTOCOPIABLE
We do not usually use the simple present to talk about temporary situations or Michael Swan 2008
actions that are only going on around the present. Compare:
Water boils at 1008 Celsius.
The kettles boiling shall I make tea? (NO T The kettle boils . . .)
Golden Grammar Rules
These detailed explanations are taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
Find out more about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.

2 not used for things happening just around the present


We do not usually use the simple present to talk about temporary situations or
actions that are only going on around the present. Compare:
Water boils at 1008 Celsius.
The kettles boiling shall I make tea? (NO T The kettle boils . . .)
It usually snows in January.
Look its snowing! (N OT Look It snows!)
I play tennis every Wednesday.
Wheres Bernard?Hes playing tennis. (NOT . . . He plays tennis.)

3 non-progressive verbs
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However, the simple present is used for this around the present meaning
with verbs that do not have progressive forms (see 471).
I like this wine present tenses
very much. (NOT(4):Im
progressive
liking . . .)(or continuous) 464
I believe you. (N OT Im believing you.)

4 talking about the future


We do not normally use the simple present to talk about the future.
I promise I wont smoke any more. (NOT I promise I dont smoke any more.)
Were going to the theatre this evening. (NO T We go to the theatre this
evening.) page 450
Theres the doorbell.Ill get it. (N OT I get it.)
However, the simple present is used for timetabled future events (see 215).
His train arrives at 11.46. I start my new job tomorrow.
And the simpleOUP
M11072 present is English
Practical oftenUsage
used(PEU)
instead of will . . .Frome,
Tradespools, in subordinate
Somerset clauses
that refer to the future. (For details, see 580).
Ill kill anybody who touches my possessions. (NOT . . . who will touch . . .)
Ill phone you when I get home. (N OT . . . when Ill get home.)
The simple present is also used in suggestions with Why dont you . . .?
Why dont you take a day off tomorrow?
5 series of events:
demonstrations, commentaries, instructions, stories
When we talk about series of completed actions and events, we often use the
simple present. This happens, for example, in demonstrations, commentaries,
instructions and present-tense stories (see 465 for more details).
First I take a bowl and break two eggs into it. Next . . . (NOT First I am taking
a bowl . . .)
Lydiard passes to Taylor, Taylor shoots and its a goal!
How do I get to the station?You go straight on to the traffic lights, then you
turn left, . . ..
So I go into the office, and I see this man, and he says to me . . .

6 how long? present tenses not used


We use a perfect tense, not a present tense, to say how long a present action or
situation has been going on. (See 460 for details.)
Ive known her since 1960. (N OT I know her since 1960.)

464 present tenses (4): progressive (or continuous)


1 present progressive: forms
am/are/is + -ing
I am waiting.
Are you listening? She isnt working today.
For double letters in words like sitting, stopping, see 562.
For passive forms (e.g. The work is being done), see 412.
PHOTOCOPIABLE Michael Swan 2008
2 use: around now
We use the present progressive to talk about temporary actions and situations
His train arrives at 11.46. I start my new job tomorrow.
And the simple present is often used instead of will . . . in subordinate clauses
that refer to the future. (For details, see 580).
Ill kill anybody who touches my possessions. (NOT . . . who will touch . . .)
Ill phone you when I get home. (N OT . . . when Ill get home.)
The simple present is also used in suggestions with Why dont you . . .?
Why dont you take a day off tomorrow?
5 series of events:
Golden Grammar Rules commentaries, instructions, stories
demonstrations,
These detailed explanations are taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
When we talk about series of completed actions and events, we often use the
Find out more about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.
simple present. This happens, for example, in demonstrations, commentaries,
instructions and present-tense stories (see 465 for more details).
First I take a bowl and break two eggs into it. Next . . . (NOT First I am taking
Use the present progressive
a bowl . . .) am playing, is raining etc to talk
Lydiard passes to Taylor, Taylor shoots and its a goal!
about things thatHow aredo Ihappening around
get to the station?You theontime
go straight of speaking.
to the traffic lights, then you
turn left, . . ..
So I go into the office, and I see this man, and he says to me . . .
Im playing6 very
howbadly
long? today.
present tenses I play
(NOT not usedvery badly today.).
We use a perfect tense, not a present tense, to say how long a present action or
Look! Its raining! (NOT
situation Look!
has been rains!)
It (See
going on. 460 for details.)
Ive known her since 1960. (N OT I know her since 1960.)

464 present tenses (4): progressive (or continuous)


1 present progressive: forms
am/are/is + -ing
I am waiting.
Are you listening? She isnt working today.
For double letters in words like sitting, stopping, see 562.
For passive forms (e.g. The work is being done), see 412.

2 use: around now


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We use the present progressive to talk about temporary actions and situations
that are going on now or around now: before, during and after the moment of
speaking.
Hurry up! Werepresent tenses
all waiting for(4): progressive
you! (orwait
(NOT We all continuous)
. . .) 464
What are you doing?Im writing letters. (NO T . . . I write letters.)
s
Why are you crying? Is something wrong? (NOT Why do you cry? . . .)
Hes working in Saudi Arabia at the moment. page 451

M11072 OUP Practical English Usage (PEU) Tradespools, Frome, Somerset

3 repeated actions
The present progressive can refer to repeated actions and events, if these are
just happening around the present (for more details, see 466).
Why is he hitting the dog? Im travelling a lot these days.
4 changes
We also use the present progressive to talk about developments and changes.
That childs getting bigger every day. House prices are going up again.

5 talking about the future


We often use the present progressive to talk about the future (see 214).
What are you doing tomorrow evening?
Come and see us next week if youre passing through London.
6 things that happen all the time: not used
We do not normally use the present progressive to talk about permanent
situations, or about things that happen regularly, repeatedly or allPHOTOCOPIABLE
the time. Michael Swan 2008
Compare:
Look the cats eating your breakfast!
What do bears eat?Everything. (N OT What are bears eating? . . .)
3 repeated actions
The present progressive can refer to repeated actions and events, if these are
just happening around the present (for more details, see 466).
Why is he hitting the dog? Im travelling a lot these days.
4 changes
We also use the present progressive to talk about developments and changes.
That childs getting bigger every day. House prices are going up again.
Golden Grammar Rules
These detailed explanations
5 talking are taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
about the future
Find out more about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.
We often use the present progressive to talk about the future (see 214).
What are you doing tomorrow evening?
Come and see us next week if youre passing through London.
6 things that happen all the time: not used
We do not normally use the present progressive to talk about permanent
situations, or about things that happen regularly, repeatedly or all the time.
Compare:
Look the cats eating your breakfast!
What do bears eat?Everything. (N OT What are bears eating? . . .)
Why is that girl standing on the table?
Chetford Castle stands on a hill outside the town. (N OT . . . is standing . . .)
My sisters living at home for the moment.
Your parents live in North London, dont they?

7 verbs not used in progressive forms


Some verbs are not used in progressive forms (see 471), even if the meaning is
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just around now.
I like this wine. (NOT Im liking this wine.)
Do you believe what he says? (N OT Are you believing . . .?)
present
The tank tensesabout
contains (5): stories, commentaries
7,000 litres and instructions
at the moment. 465is
(N OT The tank
containing . . .)

8 how long? present tenses not used


We use a perfect tense, not a present tense, to say how long something has
been going on. (See 460 for details.)
Ive been learning English for three years. (NOT Im learning English for three
years.) page 452

465 present tenses (5):


stories,
M11072 commentaries and instructions
OUP Practical English Usage (PEU) Tradespools, Frome, Somerset

1 stories
Present tenses are often used informally to tell stories. The simple present is
used for the events the things that happen one after another. The present
progressive is used for background things that are already happening when
the story starts, or that continue through the story. (This is like the difference
between the simple past and past progressive: see 422.)
So I open the door, and I look out into the garden, and I see this man. Hes
wearing pyjamas and a policemans helmet. Hello, he says . . .
Theres this Scotsman, you see, and hes walking through the jungle when he
meets a gorilla. And the gorillas eating a snake sandwich. So the
Scotsman goes up to the gorilla . . .
The simple present is common in summaries of plays, stories, etc.
In Act I, Hamlet sees the ghost of his father. The ghost tells him . . .
Chapter 2: Henry goes to Scotland and meets the Loch Ness Monster.
2 commentaries
In commentaries, the use of tenses is similar. The simple present is used for
the quicker actions and events (which are finished before the sentences that
describe them); the present progressive is used for longer actions and
situations. There are more simple and fewer progressive tenses in a football
commentary, for instance, than in a commentary on a boat race.
Smith passes to Devaney, Devaney to Barnes and Harris intercepts . . .
Harris passes back to Simms, nice ball and Simms shoots!
Oxford are pulling slightly ahead of Cambridge now; theyre rowing with a
beautiful rhythm; Cambridge are looking a little disorganised . . .
3 instructions and demonstrations
We often use present tenses in a similar way to give instructions,
demonstrations and directions.
PHOTOCOPIABLE Michael Swan 2008
OK, lets go over it again. You wait outside the bank until the manager
arrives. Then you radio Louie, whos waiting round the corner, and he
drives round to the front entrance. You and Louie grab the manager . . .
Have you ever seen a ghost? Shes never said sorry in her life.
Im sure weve met before. Has the postman come yet?
We havent seen Beth recently.
Could you clean the car?Ive already done it.
6 repetition up to now: Ive written six letters . . .
We can use the present perfect to say that something has happened several
times up to the present.
Golden Grammar
Ive writtenRules
six letters since lunchtime.
These Adverbs
detailedofexplanations areoften,
frequency like takensometimes,
from Practical English Usage
occasionally by Michael
are common Swan.
with the
Find out moreperfect.
present about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.
How often have you been in love in your life?
Ive sometimes thought of moving to Australia.

7 present
Dont use the continuation perfect have/has
up to now: Ive known seen, have/has
her for years gone etc - with
words that nameTo a finished time.
talk about actions and situations that have continued up to the present,
both the simple present perfect and the present perfect progressive are
possible (depending on the kind of verb and the exact meaning for details,
see 459).
I saw him yesterday.
Ive known(NOT have
her for Iyears. (N OT seen him
I know her yesterday.)
for years. see 460.1)
Ive been thinking about you all day.
They went to Greece lasttenses
For present perfect summer. (NOT
in clauses referring They
to the have
future (e.g. Ill take agone last summer.)
finished
rest when Ive
cleaning the kitchen), see 580.

456 present perfect (2): perfect or past?


1 thinking about past and present together
We use the present perfect if we are thinking about the past and present
together. We do not use the present perfect if we are not thinking about the
present. Compare:
My sister has learnt French. (She can speak French now.)
Shakespeare probably learnt Italian. (N OT Shakespeare has probably learnt
Italian.)
Weve studied enough to pass the exam. (The exam is still to come.)
We studied enough to pass the exam. (The exam is over.)
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Ann and Peter have got married! (news)
My parents got married in Canada.
We do not use the present perfect in story-telling.
Once upon a time a beautiful present
princessperfect
fell in(2): perfect
love with aorpoor
past?farmer.
456
(NOT . . . has fallen in love . . .)

page 440

M11072 OUP Practical English Usage (PEU) Tradespools, Frome, Somerset

2 finished-time words: present perfect not used


We do not often use the present perfect with words that refer to a PHOTOCOPIABLE
completely Michael Swan 2008
finished period of time, like yesterday, last week, then, when, three years ago, in
1970. This is because the present perfect focuses on the present, and words
like these focus on the past, so they contradict each other. Compare:
Golden Grammar Rules
These detailed explanations are taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
Find out more about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.

2 finished-time words: present perfect not used


We do not often use the present perfect with words that refer to a completely
finished period of time, like yesterday, last week, then, when, three years ago, in
1970. This is because the present perfect focuses on the present, and words
like these focus on the past, so they contradict each other. Compare:
Have you seen Lucy anywhere?
I saw Lucy yesterday. (NO T I have seen Lucy yesterday.)
Tom has hurt his leg; he cant walk.
Tom hurt his leg last week. (N OT Tom has hurt his leg last week.)
What have you done with the car keys? I cant find them.
What did you do then? (NOT What have you done then?)
My7.51a/W
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(May has had{Jobsin}M11072/450-499
2 2001) an accident. HesPEU.3d
in hospital.
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When did the accident happen? (NOT When has the accident happened?)
All my friends have moved to London.
Eric moved three years ago. (NO T Eric has moved three years ago.)
present perfect (3): perfect or past (advanced points) 457
For tenses with just and just now, see 307.

s
3 ever, before, recently etc
But with words that mean at some/any time up to now (like ever, before,
never, yet, recently, already), we normally use the present perfect (see 455.5).
Have you ever been to Chicago? Ive seen this film before.
page 441
4 time not mentioned
We use the present perfect when we are thinking of a period of time up to
now, even if we do not mention it.
Have you seen
M11072 Romeo
OUP and Juliet?
Practical English (= HaveTradespools,
Usage (PEU) you everFrome,
seenSomerset
it? or Have you
seen the present production?)
Youve done a lot for me. (. . . up to now)
On the other hand, we do not use the present perfect when we are thinking of
a particular finished time, even if we do not mention it.
Did you see Romeo and Juliet? (It was on TV last night.)
My grandfather did a lot for me. (. . . when he was alive)
5 news and details
We normally use the present perfect to announce news (see 455.4).
But when we give more details, we usually change to a past tense.
Joe has passed his exam! He got 87%.
There has been a plane crash near Bristol. Witnesses say that there was an
explosion as the aircraft was taking off, . . .
The Prime Minister has had talks with President Kumani. During a three-
hour meeting, they discussed the economic situation, and agreed on the
need for closer trade links between the two countries.
For more details, exceptions and notes on American usage, see 457.6.

457 present perfect (3): perfect or past


(advanced points)
1 causes and origins: Who gave you that?
We normally use the present perfect when we are thinking about past events
together with their present results (see 455.3).
I cant come to your party because Ive broken my leg.
However, we usually prefer a past tense when we identify the person, thing or
circumstances responsible for a present situation (because we are thinking
about the past cause, not the present result). Compare:
Look what Johns given me! (thinking about the gift)
Who gave you that? (thinking about the past action of giving) PHOTOCOPIABLE Michael Swan 2008
Some fool has let the cat in.
Who let that cat in?
Other examples:
articles (8): talking in general 68

Would you like some more rice? (An indefinite amount as much as the
listener wants.)
We need rice, sugar, eggs, butter, beer, and toilet paper. (The speaker is
thinking just of the things that need to be bought, not of the amounts.)
Is there any water in the fridge? (The speaker wants a limited amount.)
Golden Grammar Rules
Is there water on the moon? (The interest is in the existence of water, not the
These detailed explanations are taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
amount.)
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This engine hardly uses any petrol. (The interest is in the amount.)
This engine doesnt use petrol. (The interest is in the type of fuel, not the
amount.)
Dont use the to We talk
do not about things
use some/any inis general.
when it clear exactly how much/many we are
talking about. Compare:
Youve got some great books.
Youve got pretty toes. (A definite number ten. Youve got some pretty toes
Books are expensive. suggest The
would(NOT that thebooks
speaker is are expensive.)
not making it clear how many
perhaps six or seven!)
I love music. (NOT I love the music.)
For details of the difference between some and any, see 547.
For full details of the uses of some, see 546; for any, see 55.

68 articles (8): talking in general


1 the does not mean all
We do not use the with uncountable or plural nouns to talk about things in
general to talk about all books, all people or all life, for example. The does not
mean all. Instead, we use no article. Compare:
Move the books off that chair and sit down. (= particular books)
Books are expensive. (NOT The books are expensive.)
Im studying the life of Beethoven. (= one particular life)
Life is complicated. (NOT The life . . . )
Wheres the cheese?I ate it. Why has the light gone out?
I love cheese. Nothing can travel faster than light.
Ive joined the local Dramatic Society.
Its not always easy to fit in with society.
I never really understood the nature of my fathers work.
Shes very interested in nature, especially animals and birds.
Write your name in the space at the bottom of the page.
Would you like to travel into space?
Note that most (meaning the majority of) is used without the.
Most birds can fly. (NOT The most . . .)
Most of the children got very tired. (N OT The most . . .)

2 generalisations with singular countable nouns


Sometimes we talk about things in general by using the with a singular
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Schools should concentrate more on the child and less on exams.
This is common with the names of scientific instruments and inventions, and
musical instruments.
Life would be quieter without thearticles (9): the (difficult cases) 69
telephone.
The violin is more difficult than the piano.
s

We can also generalise by talking about one example of a class, using a/an
(meaning any) with a singular countable noun. page 59
A baby deer can stand as soon as its born.
A child needs plenty of love.
Note that we cannot use a/an in this way when we are generalising about all of
theM11072
members of OUPagroup
Practicaltogether.
English Usage (PEU) Tradespools, Frome, Somerset
The tiger is in danger of becoming extinct. (N OT A tiger is in danger of
becoming extinct. The sentence is about the whole tiger family, not about
individuals.)
Do you like horses? (NOT Do you like a horse?)

For the use of the + adjective to generalise about groups (e.g. the old, the blind ) see 17.

69 articles (9): the (difficult cases)


It is sometimes difficult to know whether or not to use the. For example, we
use no article to generalise with uncountable and plural words (see 68); but we
use the to show that the listener/reader knows which people or things we are
talking about (see 64). Sometimes both these meanings come together, and it
PHOTOCOPIABLE Michael Swan 2008
is difficult to know which form is correct. The grammatical distinctions in this
area are not very clear; often the same idea can be expressed both with the and
with no article. The following notes may help.
When we talk about longer-lasting or permanent situations we often prefer the
simple present perfect. Compare:
That man has been standing on the corner all day.
For 900 years the castle has stood on the hill above the village.
I havent been working very well recently.
He hasnt worked for years.
Ive been living in Sues flat for the last month.
My parents have lived in Bristol all their lives.
Progressive and simple tenses are sometimes both possible, with a slight
Golden Grammar Rules
difference of emphasis.
These detailed explanations are taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
Its been raining / Its rained steadily since last Saturday.
Find out more about PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.
Harry has been working / has worked in the same job for thirty years.
We generally use the progressive to talk about continuous change or
development, even if this is permanent.
Use for with a period
Scientistsof time.
believe that the universe has been expanding steadily since the
beginning of time.
Use since with the beginning of the period.
3 how much? how often? simple present perfect
We use the simple present perfect to say how much we have done, or how
for the last twooften
hours = since 9 oclock
we have done something. Compare:
Ive been planting rose bushes all afternoon.
Look at all the rose bushes Ive planted! (NOT . . . Ive been planting.)
for since
three days = Weve beenMonday (BUT NOT since three days)
painting the house.
Weve painted two rooms since lunchtime. (NOT Weve been painting two
for five years = sinceroomsIsince
leftlunchtime.)
school
Ive been playing a lot of tennis recently.
Ive played tennis three times this week.

460 present perfect (6): present perfect or present?


1 how long? present perfect
We use
3B2 Version Number a present
7.51a/W perfect
(May 2 2001) to say how long
{Jobsin}M11072/450-499 a
situation
PEU.3d or action
Date: 13/1/05 has continued
Time 11:57am Page 448 of 487
up to now. Compare:
Its raining again.
Its been raining since Christmas. (NO T Its raining since Christmas.)
Are you learning English? present tenses (1): introduction 461
How long have you been learning? (NOT How long are you learning?)

s
I hear youre working at Smiths. Yes, Ive been working there pagefor447
a month.
(N OT Im working there for . . .)
I know her well.
Ive known her for years. (NO T I know her for years.)
My brothers a doctor.
M11072 OUP Practical English Usage (PEU)
How long has he been a doctor? (N OT How Tradespools,
long is heFrome, Somerset
a doctor?)
Compare also:
How long are you here for? (= until when; when are you leaving?)
How long have you been here for? (= since when; when did you arrive?)
For the difference between simple and progressive forms, see 459.
For the difference between since and for, see 208.
For tenses with since, see 522.

2 This is the first time etc


We use a simple present perfect after this is the first time that . . . , its the
second . . . that . . . , and similar structures (see 591).
This is the first time that Ive heard her sing. (NOT This is the first time that I
hear her sing.)
Its the fifth time youve asked me the same question.
This is only the second opera Ive ever seen.

For present perfect and simple present passives with similar meanings (e.g. The shop has
been / is closed), see 420.

461 present tenses (1): introduction


1 the two present tenses
Most English verbs have two present tenses. Forms like I wait, she thinks are
called simple present or present simple; forms like I am waiting or shes
thinking are called present progressive or present continuous. The two
present tenses are used in different ways.

2 general time: simple present


When we talk about permanent situations, or about things that happen
regularly or all the time (not just around now), we usually use thePHOTOCOPIABLE
simple Michael Swan 2008
present (see 462463 for details).
My parents live near Dover. Water freezes at 08 Celsius.
I go to London about three times a week.
3B2 Version Number 7.51a/W (May 2 2001) {Jobsin}M11072/600-634 PEU.3d Date: 13/1/05 Time 12:00pm Page 604 of 623

Golden Grammar Rules very and very much 611


These detailed explanations are taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
Find
7 out
onemore aboutor
object PEU in the online catalogue at www.oup.com/elt.
two
Some verbs can be followed by either a direct object, or an indirect object, or
both.
Dont separate the verb
I asked John.fromI theasked object.
a question. I asked John a question.
Other verbs like this include teach, tell, pay, show, sing, play and write. Note
that when sing, play and write have no direct object, we put to before the
verb indirect
obj object. Compare:
Sing her a song.
Sing to her. (NO T Sing her.)
She speaks English
Write me very well. (NOT She speaks very well English.)
a letter.
Write to me when you get home.
Andy likes skiing(More
verycommon
much. (NOT
than Andy
Write me . . . in likes
standard very English.) skiing)
British much

For structures with object complements (e.g. They made him captain), see 607.

611 very and very much


1 adjectives and adverbs: very kind, very quickly
We use very, not very much, before adjectives and adverbs.
Youre very kind. (N OT Youre very much kind.)
The situation is very serious. (NOT . . . very much serious.)
I came very quickly. (NOT . . . very much quickly .)
However, very much is used before comparatives.
Im very much happier in my new job. (NOT . . . very happier . . .)
For very with superlatives (very first, very best etc), see 140.4.
For the very same, see 503.

2 not very
Not very expresses quite a low degree.
Its not very warm youd better take a coat.
That meal wasnt very expensive. (= quite cheap.)
Note that little cannot be used in this way.
Hes not very imaginative. (NOT Hes little imaginative.)
3 past participles: very much loved, very worried
Before past participles we normally use very much.
She was very much loved by her grandchildren. (N OT She was very loved.)
Journey times will be very much reduced by the new road. (NOT . . . very
reduced . . .)
But we use very with some past participles that are used as adjectives. For
details, see 410.4.
Im very worried about Angela. (NOT . . . very much worried . . .)
We
3B2 Version Number were(May
7.51a/W very surprised
2 2001) when Pete passed
{Jobsin}M11072/600-634 PEU.3d his exam.
Date: 13/1/05 (More common
Time 12:00pm Pagethan
605 of 623
. . . very much surprised . . .)
4 very much (adverb)
Very much can be an adverb. want 613
We very much enjoyed the party. (NO T We very enjoyed.)
We do not normally put very much between a verb and its object.
I very much like mountains. (NOT I like very much mountains.) page 604
Very much can also be a determiner before a noun.
She didnt have very much money.
Have you got very much work to do?
Very much is not often used as a determiner in affirmative clauses (see 357.5).
M11072 OUP Practical English Usage (PEU) Tradespools, Frome, Somerset
There was a lot of snow on the road. (N OT There was very much snow.)
For very . . . indeed, see 273.

612 wait
Wait can be followed by an infinitive.
PHOTOCOPIABLE Michael Swan 2008
Ill wait to hear from you before I do anything.
Before a direct object, wait for is used.
Please wait for me here. (NOT Please wait me here.)