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``How to Use Adjectives


By Kenneth Beare, About.com Guide

See More About:

comparative and superlative forms


adjectives and adverbs
adverbs of frequency
adverb clauses

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An adjective describes how something 'is'. For this reason, we usually use the verb 'to be'
when using adjectives. Adjectives are used to describe nouns. Example: He is a good doctor.
They Rule: Adjectives describe nouns. The adjective is always invariable.

Example: beautiful trees, they are happy

Be careful!

Adjectives don't have a singular and plural form OR a masculine, femine and neuter
form.
Adjectives are always the same! Never add a final -s to an adjective.
Adjectives can also be placed at the end of a sentence if they describe the subject of a
sentence. Example: My doctor is excellent.

NOT!!: difficults books

Rule: Adjectives are placed before the noun.

Example: a wonderful book very interesting people

Be careful!

Don't place an adjective after the noun


``````

NOT!!: an apple red

More Help with Adjectives

Adjective or Adverb - Which to Use?


By Kenneth Beare, About.com Guide

Filed In:

1. Grammar
2. > Grammar - Intermediate

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Sometimes students are not sure when to use an adverb or an adjective. This short guide
provides an overview and rules to using both adjectives and adverbs.

Adjectives

Adjectives Modify Nouns

Adjectives are placed directly before a noun:

Examples:

Tom is an excellent singer.

I bought a comfortable chair.

She's thinking about buying a new house.

Adjectives are also used in simple sentences with the verb 'to be'. In this case, the
adjective describes the subject of the sentence:

Examples:
``````

Jack is happy.

Peter was very tired.

Mary'll be excited when you tell her.

Adjectives are used with sense verbs or verbs or appearance (feel, taste, smell, sound,
appear and seem) to modify the noun which comes before the verb:

Examples:

The fish tasted awful.

Did you see Peter? He seemed very upset.

I'm afraid the meat smelled rotten.

Adverbs

Adverbs Modify Verbs, Adjectives and Other Adverbs

Adverbs are easily recognized because the end in '-ly' (with a few exceptions!):

Examples:

Adjective -> careful / Adverb -> carefully

Adjective -> quick / Adverb -> quickly

Adverbs are often used at the end of a sentence to modify the verb:

Examples:

Jack drove carelessly.

Tom played the match effortlessly.

Jason complained about his classes constantly.

Adverbs are used to modify adjectives:

Examples:

They seemed extremely satisfied.

She paid increasingly high prices.

I was suddenly surprised by Alice.

Adverbs are also used to modify other adverbs:


``````

Examples:

The people in the line moved incredibly quickly.

She wrote the report unusually neatly.

When using more than one adjective to describe a noun place the adjectives in the following
order before the noun.

NOTE: We usually use no more than three adjectives preceding a noun.

1. Opinion

Example: an interesting book, a boring lecture

2. Dimension

Example: a big apple, a thin wallet

3. Age

Example: a new car, a modern building, an ancient ruin

4. Shape

Example: a square box, an oval mask, a round ball

5. Color

Example: a pink hat, a blue book, a black coat

6. Origin

Example: some Italian shoes, a Canadian town, an American car

7. Material

Example: a wooden box, a woolen sweater, a plastic toy

Here are some examples of nouns modified with three adjectives in the correct order based on
the list above. Notice that the adjectives are not separated by commas.

A wonderful old Italian clock. (opinion - age - origin)


A big square blue box. (dimension - shape - color)
A disgusting pink plastic ornament. (opinion - color - material)
Some slim new French trousers. (dimension - age - origin)
``````

Adjective Placement
By Kenneth Beare, About.com Guide

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adjectives and adverbs


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When using more than one adjective to describe a noun place the adjectives in the following
order before the noun.

NOTE: We usually use no more than three adjectives preceding a noun.

1. Opinion

Example: an interesting book, a boring lecture

2. Dimension

Example: a big apple, a thin wallet

3. Age

Example: a new car, a modern building, an ancient ruin

4. Shape

Example: a square box, an oval mask, a round ball

5. Color
``````

Example: a pink hat, a blue book, a black coat

6. Origin

Example: some Italian shoes, a Canadian town, an American car

7. Material

Example: a wooden box, a woolen sweater, a plastic toy

Here are some examples of nouns modified with three adjectives in the correct order based on
the list above. Notice that the adjectives are not separated by commas.

A wonderful old Italian clock. (opinion - age - origin)


A big square blue box. (dimension - shape - color)
A disgusting pink plastic ornament. (opinion - color - material)
Some slim new French trousers. (dimension - age - origin)

Adverb or Adjective - Which should I use?


By Kenneth Beare, About.com Guide

See More About:

adjectives and adverbs


beginning english
english grammar

20 of 25

Gallery Index
Prev Next

Adjectives Modify Nouns

Adjectives are placed directly before a noun:

Examples:
``````

Tom is an excellent singer.

I bought a comfortable chair.

She's thinking about buying a new house.

Adjectives are also used in simple sentences with the verb 'to be'. In this case, the
adjective describes the subject of the sentence:

Examples:

Jack is happy.

Peter was very tired.

Mary'll be excited when you tell her.

Adverbs

Adverbs Modify Verbs, Adjectives and Other Adverbs

Adverbs are easily recognized because they end in '-ly' (with a few exceptions!):

Examples:

Adjective - careful / Adverb - carefully

Adjective - quick / Adverb - quickly

Adverbs are often used at the end of a sentence to modify the verb:

Examples:

Jack drove carelessly.

Tom played the match intelligently.

Jason talks about his classes constantly.

Test your understanding with this short quiz.

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Adjective Placement Quiz - ANSWERS


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adjectives and adverbs


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(Continued from Page 2)

book interesting - small - Spanish

ANSWER: an interesting small Spanish book

picture modern - ugly - rectangular

ANSWER: an ugly modern rectangular picture

opinion old - boring - American

ANSWER: a boring old American opinion

apple ripe - green - delicious

ANSWER: a delicious ripe green apple

suit woolen - large - black

ANSWER: a large black woolen suit

house beautiful - modern - small

ANSWER: a beautiful small modern house


``````

magazine German - slender - strange

ANSWER: a strange slender German magazine

cap cotton - funny - green

ANSWER: a funny green cotton cap

Using Adverbs
Adverbs modify verbs. They tell you How something is done. Example: How does he she
sing? - She sings beautifully.

Rule: Adverbs are often formed by adding -ly to an adjective

Example: beautiful - beautifully, careful - carefully

Be Careful!

Some adjectives don't change in the adverb form. The most important of these are:
fast - fast, hard - hard
Good is probably the most important exception. The adverb form of 'good' is 'well'.
Unfortunately, this is a common mistake that many Americans make!

NOT!!: He plays tennis good.

Rule: Adverbs can also modify an adjective. In this case, the adverb is placed before the
adjective.

Example: She is extremely happy. They are absolutely sure.

Be Careful!

Do not use 'very' with adjectives that express an increased quality of a basic adjective
Example: good - fantastic

NOT!!: She is a very beautiful woman.

Rule: Adverbs of frequency (always, never, sometimes, often, etc.) usually come before the
main verb

Example: He is often late for class. Do you always eat in a restaurant? They don't
usually travel on Fridays.

Be Careful!

Adverbs of frequency expressing infrequency are not usually used in the negative or
question form. NOT!!: Does she rarely eat fish? They don't seldom go to the cinema.
``````

Adverbs of frequency are often placed at the beginning of a sentence. Example:


Sometimes, he likes to go to museums.
Adverbs of frequency follow - come after - the verb 'to be'. Example: He is
sometimes late for work.

Using Adverb Clauses with


Time Expressions
Punctuation

When an adverb clause begins the sentence use a comma to separate the two clauses.
Example: As soon as he arrives, we will have some lunch.. When the adverb clause finishes
the sentence there is no need for a comma. Example: He gave me a call when he arrived in
town.

Adverb Clauses with Time

When

He was talking on the phone when I arrived.


When she called, he had already eaten lunch.
I washed the dishes when my daughter fell asleep.
We'll go to lunch when you come to visit.

'When' means 'at that moment, at that time, etc.'. Notice the different tenses used in
relationship to the clause beginning with when. It is important to remember that 'when' takes
either the simple past OR the present - the dependent clause changes tense in relation to the
'when' clause.

Before

We will finish before he arrives.


She (had) left before I telephoned.

'Before' means 'before that moment'. It is important to remember that 'before' takes either the
simple past OR the present.

After

We will finish after he comes.


She ate after I (had) left.

'After' means 'after that moment'. It is important to remember that 'after' takes the present for
future events and the past OR past perfect for past events.

While, as

She began cooking while I was finishing my homework.


``````

As I was finishing my homework, she began cooking.

'While' and 'as' mean 'during that time'. 'While' and 'as' are both usually used with the past
continuous because the meaning of 'during that time' which indicates an action in progess.

By the time

By the time he finished, I had cooked dinner.


We will have finished our homework by the time they arrive.

'By the time' expresses the idea that one event has been completed before another. It is
important to notice the use of the past perfect for past events and future perfect for future
events in the main clause. This is because of the idea of something happening up to another
point in time.

Until, till

We waited until he finished his homework.


I'll wait till you finish.

'Until' and 'till' express 'up to that time'. We use either the simple present or simple past with
'until' and 'till'. 'Till' is usually only used in spoken English.

Since

I have played tennis since I was a young boy.


They have worked here since 1987.

'Since' means 'from that time'. We use the present perfect (continuous) with 'since'. 'Since' can
also be used with a specific point in time.

As soon as

He will let us know as soon as he decides (or as soon as he has decided).


As soon as I hear from Tom, I will give you a telephone call.

'As soon as' means 'when something happens - immediately afterwards'. 'As soon as' is very
similar to 'when' it emphasizes that the event will occur immediately after the other. We
usually use the simple present for future events, although present perfect can also be used.

Whenever, every time

Whenever he comes, we go to have lunch at "Dick's".


We take a hike every time he visits.

'Whenever' and 'every time' mean 'each time something happens'. We use the simple present
(or the simple past in the past) because 'whenever' and 'every time' express habitual action.

The first, second, third, fourth etc., next, last time


``````

The first time I went to New York, I was intimidated by the city.
I saw Jack the last time I went to San Francisco.
The second time I played tennis, I began to have fun.

The first, second, third, fourth etc., next, last time means 'that specific time'. We can use these
forms to be more specific about which time of a number of times something happened.

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency tell us how often something happens/is the case, happened/was
the case, will happen/will be the case, etc.

There are lots of them. Here are some examples:

usually
constantly
normally sometimes
habitually often
mostly occasionally rarely
chiefly frequently
always generally sporadically infrequently never
predominantly
commonly intermittently seldom
typically repeatedly
largely spasmodically
continuously
regularly

Where do they come in the sentence?

1. If the sentence has one verb in it (e.g. no auxiliary verb) we usually put the
adverb in the middle of the sentence, i.e. after the subject and before the verb:

Position A

subject adverb verb predicate


Tom usually goes to work by car.

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2. The adverb usually comes after the verb "be":

Position B

subject verb adverb predicate


Tom is often late.
``````

Anne isn't usually late.

This is not the case if we put the adverb at the beginning or end of the sentence for
emphasis.

This rule also does not apply to short answers:

Speaker A: Is she usually on time? Speaker A: Tell her not to be late.


Speaker A: Yes, she usually is. Speaker B: She never is.

The rule is broken in other cases too, e.g.

Speaker A: What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at school?


Speaker B I normally am at school at this time, but my teacher is ill.

Speaker A: You're late again!


Speaker B: I usually am late on Mondays because the traffic is so bad.

Speaker A: Tom is late again!


Speaker B: Tom usually is late!

I never was any good at maths.

3. If the sentence has more than one verb in it (e.g. auxiliary verb) we usually put the
adverb after the first part of the verb:

Position C

subject verb 1 adverb verb 2 predicate


I can never remember his name.

Anne doesn't usually smoke. about the state of the school toilets.

The children have often complained

Exception:

In sentences with "have to" the adverb is in position A:

subject adverb verb 1 verb 2 predicate


We often have to wait for the bus.

4. For emphasis we can put the adverb at the beginning or end of the sentence.
``````

At the end is unusual - we usually only put it there when we have forgotten to put it in earlier.

Position D

adverb subject verb 1 predicate


Sometimes we go to school by bus.

Position E

subject verb 1 predicate adverb


We go to school by bus - sometimes.

Exceptions:

"Always" can't go at the beginning or end of the sentence.

"Never", "seldom", "rarely" can't go at the end of a sentence. They only go at the beginning
of a sentence in "polemic statements". Then they have to be followed by the word order for
questions:

Never has there been a better time to overcome our differences!

Rarely do we have an opportunity like this to

Seldom had the orchestra given a worse performance.

5. When using adverbs of frequency in the question form, put the adverb before the main
verb.

Position F

Auxiliary verb subject Adverb verb 1 predicate


Do you often go to the cinema?

Exceptions:

"Never", "seldom", "rarely" and other adverbs of frequency with a negative sense are not
usually used in the question form.

6. When using adverbs of frequency in the negative form, put the adverb before the main
verb.

Position G

subject Auxiliary verb Adverb verb 1 predicate


``````

They don't often go to the cinema.

Exceptions:

"Never", "seldom", "rarely" and other adverbs of frequency with a negative sense are not
usually used in the negative form.

Many thanks to Claire Capellen for contributing this valuable resource!

What are Adverbs?


Intermediate Level Help

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Using Adverb Clauses with


Time Expressions
The first page focuses on adverb clauses which are often called "time clauses" in English
grammar books and follow specific patterns. Take a look at the chart below to study the
various usage of different time expressions.

Punctuation

When an adverb clause begins the sentence use a comma to separate the two clauses.
Example: As soon as he arrives, we will have some lunch.. When the adverb clause finishes
the sentence there is no need for a comma. Example: He gave me a call when he arrived in
town.

Adverb Clauses with Time

When

He was talking on the phone when I arrived.


When she called, he had already eaten lunch.
I washed the dishes when my daughter fell asleep.
We'll go to lunch when you come to visit.

'When' means 'at that moment, at that time, etc.'. Notice the different tenses used in
relationship to the clause beginning with when. It is important to remember that 'when' takes
either the simple past OR the present - the dependent clause changes tense in relation to the
'when' clause.

Before

We will finish before he arrives.


She (had) left before I telephoned.
``````

'Before' means 'before that moment'. It is important to remember that 'before' takes either the
simple past OR the present.

After

We will finish after he comes.


She ate after I (had) left.

'After' means 'after that moment'. It is important to remember that 'after' takes the present for
future events and the past OR past perfect for past events.

While, as

She began cooking while I was finishing my homework.


As I was finishing my homework, she began cooking.

'While' and 'as' mean 'during that time'. 'While' and 'as' are both usually used with the past
continuous because the meaning of 'during that time' which indicates an action in progess.

By the time

By the time he finished, I had cooked dinner.


We will have finished our homework by the time they arrive.

'By the time' expresses the idea that one event has been completed before another. It is
important to notice the use of the past perfect for past events and future perfect for future
events in the main clause. This is because of the idea of something happening up to another
point in time.

Until, till

We waited until he finished his homework.


I'll wait till you finish.

'Until' and 'till' express 'up to that time'. We use either the simple present or simple past with
'until' and 'till'. 'Till' is usually only used in spoken English.

Since

I have played tennis since I was a young boy.


They have worked here since 1987.

'Since' means 'from that time'. We use the present perfect (continuous) with 'since'. 'Since' can
also be used with a specific point in time.

As soon as

He will let us know as soon as he decides (or as soon as he has decided).


As soon as I hear from Tom, I will give you a telephone call.
``````

'As soon as' means 'when something happens - immediately afterwards'. 'As soon as' is very
similar to 'when' it emphasizes that the event will occur immediately after the other. We
usually use the simple present for future events, although present perfect can also be used.

Whenever, every time

Whenever he comes, we go to have lunch at "Dick's".


We take a hike every time he visits.

'Whenever' and 'every time' mean 'each time something happens'. We use the simple present
(or the simple past in the past) because 'whenever' and 'every time' express habitual action.

The first, second, third, fourth etc., next, last time

The first time I went to New York, I was intimidated by the city.
I saw Jack the last time I went to San Francisco.
The second time I played tennis, I began to have fun.

The first, second, third, fourth etc., next, last time means 'that specific time'. We can use these
forms to be more specific about which time of a number of times something happened.

Adverb Clauses to Show Opposition


hese type of clauses show an unexpected or non self-evident result based on the dependent
clause. Example: He bought the car even though it was expensive. Take a look at the chart
below to study the various usages of adverb clauses showing opposition.

Punctuation

When an adverb clause begins the sentence use a comma to separate the two clauses.
Example: Even though the it was expensive, he bought the car.. When the adverb clause
finishes the sentence there is no need for a comma. Example: He bought the car even though
it was expensive.

For more information about how to use these words click on the link for an explanation of the
usage.

Adverb Clauses Showing Opposition

Even though, though, although

Even though it was expensive, he bought the car.


Though he loves doughnuts, he has given them up for his diet.
Although he course was difficult, he passed with the highest marks.

Notice how 'though, even though' or 'although' show a situation which is contrary to the main
clause to express opposition. Even though, though and although are all synonyms.

Whereas, while
``````

Whereas you have lots of time to do your homework, I have very little time indeed.
Mary is rich, while I am poor.

'Whereas' and 'while' show clauses in direct opposition to each other. Notice that you should
always use a comma with 'whereas' and 'while'.

Using Adverb Clauses to


Express Conditions
These type of clauses are often called "if clauses" in English grammar books and follow
conditional sentence patterns. Take a look at the chart below to study the various usage of
different time expressions.

Punctuation

When an adverb clause begins the sentence use a comma to separate the two clauses.
Example: If he comes, we will have some lunch.. When the adverb clause finishes the
sentence there is no need for a comma. Example: He would have invited me if he had known.

More information on the correct tense usage for the conditionals

If

If we win, we'll go to Kelly's to celebrate!


She would buy a house, if she had enough money.

'If' clauses express the conditions necessary for the result. If clauses are followed by expected
results based on the condition. More information on the correct tense usage for the
conditionals

Even if

Even if she saves a lot, she won't be able to afford that house.

In contrast to sentences with 'if' sentences with 'even if' show a result that is unexpected based
on the condition in the 'even if' clause. Example: COMPARE: If she studies hard, she will
pass the exam AND Even if she studies hard, she won't pass the exam.

Whether or not

They won't be able to come whether or not they have enough money.
Whether they have money or not, they won't be able to come.

'Whether or not' expresses the idea that neither one condition or another matters; the result
will be the same. Notice the possibility of inversion (Whether they have money or not) with
'whether or not'.

Unless
``````

Unless she hurries up, we won't arrive in time.


We won't go unless he arrives soon.

'Unless' expresses the idea of 'if not' Example: Unless she hurries up, we won't arrive in
time. MEANS THE SAME AS: If she doesn't hurry up, we won't arrive in time. 'Unless' is only
used in the first conditional.

In case (that), in the event (that)

In the case you need me, I'll be at Tom's.


I'll be studying upstairs in the event he calls.

'In case' and 'in the event' usually mean that you don't expect something to happen, but if it
does... Both are used primarily for future events.

Only if

We'll give you your bicycle only if you do well on your exams.
Only if you do well on your exams will we give you your bicycle.

'Only if' means 'only in the case that something happens - and only if'. This form basically
means the same as 'if'. However, it does stress the condition for the result. Note that when
'only if' begins the sentence you need to invert the main clause.

Adverb Clauses with Expressions of Cause


and Effect
These type of clauses explain the reasons for what happens in the main clause. Example: He
bought a new home because he got a better job.. Take a look at the chart below to study the
various usages of different expressions of cause and effect. Note that all of these expressions
are synonyms of 'because'.

Punctuation

When an adverb clause begins the sentence use a comma to separate the two clauses.
Example: Because he had to work late, we had dinner after nine o'clock.. When the adverb
clause finishes the sentence there is no need for a comma. Example: We had dinner after
nine o'clock because he had to work late.

For more information about how to use these words click on the link for an explanation of the
usage.

Adverb Clauses of Cause and Effect

Because

They received a high mark on their exam because they had studied hard.
I'm studying hard because I want to pass my exam.
``````

He works a lot of overtime because his rent is so expensive

Notice how because can be used with a variety of tenses based on the time relationship
between the two clauses.

Since

Since he loves music so much, he decided to go to a conservatory.


They had to leave early since their train left at 8.30.

'Since' means the same as because. 'Since' tends to be used in more informal spoken English.
Important note: "Since" when used as a conjunction is typically used to refer to a period of
time, while "because" implies a cause or reason.

As long as

As long as you have the time, why don't you come for dinner?

'As long as' means the same as because. 'As long as' tends to be used in more informal spoken
English.

As

As the test is difficult, you had better get some sleep.

'As' means the same as because. 'As' tends to be used in more formal, written English.

Inasamuch as

Inasmuch as the students had succesfully completed their exams, their parents
rewarded their efforts by giving them a trip to Paris.

'Inasmuch as' means the same as because. 'Inasmuch as' is used in very formal, written
English.

Due to the fact that

We will be staying for an extra week due to the fact that we haven not yet finished.

'Due to the fact that' means the same as because. 'Due to the fact that' is generally used in
very formal, written English

Present Simple
Structure and Usage

By Kenneth Beare, About.com Guide

See More About:


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sentence structure
grammar review
verb forms
english tenses

1 of 19

Gallery Index

Prev Next

The present simple is used to express daily routines and habits. Adverbs of frequency such as
'usually', 'sometimes', 'rarely', etc. are often used with the present simple.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

always, usually, sometimes, etc.


... every day
... on Sundays, Tuesdays, etc.

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + Present Tense + object(s) + time Expression

Frank usually takes a bus to work.

Negative

Subject + do / does + not (don't / doesn't) + verb + object(s) + time Expression

They don't often go to Chicago.


``````

Question

(Question Word) + do / does + subject + verb + object(s) + time Expression

How often do you play golf?

Present Continuous for Action at


the Moment
Structure and Usage

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One use of the present continuous tense is for action that is occurring at the moment of speaking.
Remember that only action verbs can take the continuous form.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... at the moment


... now
... today
... this morning / afternoon / evening

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + be + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

She's watching TV at the moment.

Negative

Subject + be + not (isn't, aren't) + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

They aren't having fun this morning.

Question

(Question Word) + be + subject + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

What are you doing?

Present Continuous for Current Projects


Structure and Usage

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Use the present continuous to describe projects and actions that are happening around the present
moment in time. Remember that these projects have begun in the recent past and will end in the
near future. This usage is especially popular for talking about current projects at work or for specific
hobbies.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... at the moment


... now
... this week / month

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + be + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

We're working on the Smith account this month.

Negative

Subject + be + not (isn't, aren't) + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

He isn't studying French this semester.

Question

(Question Word) + be + subject + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

Which account are you working on this week?


``````

Present Continuous for Scheduled Events


Structure and Usage

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One use of the present continuous tense is for scheduled future events. This usage is especially
useful when talking about appointments and meetings for work.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... tomorrow
... on Friday, Monday, etc.
... today
... this morning / afternoon / evening
... next week / month
... in December, March, etc.

Basic Construction
``````

Positive

Subject + be + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

I'm meeting our CEO at three o'clock this afternoon.

Negative

Subject + be + not (isn't, aren't) + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

Shelley isn't attending the meeting tomorrow.

Question

(Question Word) + be + subject + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

When are you discussing the situation with Tom?

Past Simple
Structure and Usage

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The past simple is used to express something that happened a past point in time. Remember to
always use a past time expression, or a clear contextual clue when using the past simple. If you do
not indicate when something happened, use the present perfect for unspecified past.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... ago
... in + year / month
...yesterday
...last week / month / year
... when ....

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + Past Tense + object(s) + time Expression

I went to the doctor's yesterday.

Negative

Subject + did + not (didn't) + verb + object(s) + time Expression

They didn't join us for dinner last week.

Question

(Question Word) + did + subject + verb + object(s) + time Expression

When did you buy that pullover?


``````

Past Continuous for Exact Times in


the Past
Structure and Usage

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The past continuous tense is used to describe what was happening at a specific moment in time in
the past. Do not use this form when referring to longer periods of time in the past such as 'last
March', 'two years ago', etc. Use the past continuous with times of the day in the past.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... at 5.20, three o'clock, etc.

Basic Construction

Positive
``````

Subject + was / were + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

We were meeting with Jane at two o'clock yesterday afternoon.

Negative

Subject + was / were + not (wasn't, weren't) + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

They weren't playing tennis at five o'clock on Saturday.

Question

(Question Word) + was / were + subject + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

What were you doing at two-thirty yesterday afternoon?

Past Continuous for Interrupted Action


Structure and Usage

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Use the past continuous to express what was happening when something important happened. This
form is almost always used with the time clause '... when xyz happened'. It is also possible to use this
form with '... while something was happening' to express two past actions that were occurring
simultaneously.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... when xyz happened


... while xyz was happening.

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + was / were + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

Sharon was watching TV when she received the telephone call.

Negative

Subject + was / were + not (wasn't, weren't) + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

We weren't doing anything important when you arrived.

Question

(Question Word) + was / were + subject + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

What were you doing when Tom gave you the bad news?
``````

Future with Going to for Future Plans


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The future with 'going to' is used to express future plans or scheduled events. It is often used
instead of the present continuous for future scheduled work events. Either form can be used
for this purpose.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... next week / month


... tomorrow
... on Monday, Tuesday, etc.

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + be + going to + verb + object(s) + time Expression


``````

Tom is going to fly to Los Angeles next on Tuesday.

Negative

Subject + be not (isn't, aren't) + going to + verb + object(s) + time Expression

They aren't going to attend the conference next month.

Question

(Question Word) + be + subject + going to + verb + object(s) + time Expression

When are you going to meet Jack?

Future with Will for Promises


and Predictions
Structure and Usage

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The future with 'will' is used to make future predictions and promises. Often the precise moment the
action will occur is unknown or not defined.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... soon
... next month / year / week

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + will + verb + object(s) + time Expression

The government will increase taxes soon.

Negative

Subject + will not (won't) + verb + object(s) + time Expression

She won't help us much with the project.

Question

(Question Word) + will + subject + verb + object(s) + time Expression

Why will they reduce taxes?

Future with Going to for Future Intent


``````

Structure and Usage

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The future with 'going to' is used for future intent. Remember that you can express a future intent
without expressing the exact future time that something will occur. This use of the future with 'going
to' can be used to discuss future study plans, career plans, and more.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... next week / month


... tomorrow
... on Monday, Tuesday, etc.

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + be + going to + verb + object(s) + time Expression


``````

Anna is going to study medicine at university.

Negative

Subject + be not (isn't, aren't) + going to + verb + object(s) + time Expression

They aren't going to develop any new projects for the next few years.

Question

(Question Word) + be + subject + going to + verb + object(s) + time Expression

Why are you going to change your job?

Present Perfect for Past to Present States


and Actions
Structure and Usage

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``````

Use the present perfect to express a state or repeated action that began in the past and continues
into the moment of speaking. The present perfect or the present perfect continuous can often be
interchanged. The main difference between these two forms is that the present perfect continuous
is generally used to express the length of the current activity up to the present moment in time.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... for + amount of time


... since + specific point in time

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + have / has + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

I have lived in Portland for four years.

Negative

Subject + have / has not (haven't, hasn't) + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

Max hasn't played tennis since 1999.

Question

(Question Word) + have / has + subject + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

Where have you worked since 2002?

Present Perfect to Express Recent Events


``````

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The present perfect is often used to express recent events that affect the present moment. These
sentences generally use the time expressions 'just', 'yet', 'already', or 'recently' to express this
connection. Remember that if you give a specific time in the past, the past simple is required.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

just
yet
already
recently

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + have / has + just / recently + past participle + object(s)


``````

Henry has just gone to the bank.

Negative

Subject + have / has not (haven't, hasn't) + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

Peter hasn't finished his homework yet.

Question

(Question Word) + have / has + subject + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

Have you spoken to Andy yet?

Present Perfect for Unspecified Past Events


Structure and Usage

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The present perfect is often used to express events that occurred in the past at an unspecified
moment. This form is often used to express cumulative life experiences up to the present moment.
Remember that if you use a specific past time expression, choose the past simple.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

twice, three times, four times, etc.


ever
never

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + have / has + past participle + object(s)

Peter has visited Europe three times in his life.

Negative

Subject + have / has not (haven't, hasn't) + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

I haven't played golf many times.

Question

(Question Word) + have / has + subject + (ever) + past participle + object(s)

Have you ever been to France?

Present Perfect Continuous


Structure and Usage

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The present perfect continuous is used to express how long a current activity has been going on. It is
often used in context to provide a reason for a present result. Remember that continuous forms can
only be used with action verbs.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

...since + specific point in time


... for + amount of time

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + has / have + been + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

He's been cleaning house for two hours.

Negative

Subject + has / have not (hasn't / haven't) + been + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

Janice hasn't been studying for too long.

Question

(Question Word) + has / have + subject + been + verb + ing + object(s) + (time Expression)

How long have you been working in the garden?

Future Perfect
``````

Structure and Usage

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Use the future perfect tense to express what will happened by a certain time in the future. The
future perfect tense is often used to express achievements or work done by a future point in time.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... by Monday, Tuesday, etc.


... by the time ...
... by five o'clock, two-thirty, etc.

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + will + have + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

They will have finished the report by tomorrow afternoon.


``````

Negative

Subject + will not (won't) + have + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

Mary won't have answered all the questions by the end of this hour.

Question

(Question Word) + will + subject + have + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

What will you have done by the end of this month?

Future Perfect Continuous


Structure and Usage

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``````

The future perfect continuous is used to express the duration of an action up to a future point in
time. This tense is not commonly used in English.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... by / ... by the time ...

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + will + have + been + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

We will have been studying for two hours by the time he arrives.

Negative

Subject + will not (won't) + have + been + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

He won't have been working long by two o'clock.

Question

(Question Word) + will + subject + have + been + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

How long will you have been working on that project by the time he arrives?

Past Perfect Continuous


Structure and Usage

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``````

The past perfect continuous is used to describe how long an activity had been going on before
something else happened. It is often used to provide context, or a reason for a specific action.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... for X hours, days, months, etc


... since Monday, Tuesday, etc.

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + had + been + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

She had been waiting for two hours when he finally arrived.

Negative

Subject + had not (hadn't) + been + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

They hadn't been working long when the boss asked them to change their focus.

Question

(Question Word) + had + subject + been + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

How long had Tom been working on that project when they decided to give it to Pete?

Past Perfect
``````

Structure and Usage

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The past perfect is used to express something that happened before another point in time. It is often
used to provide context, or an explanation for a specific action or result.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

... before
already
once, twice, three times, etc.
... by the time

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + had + past participle + object(s) + time Expression


``````

She had already eaten by the time the children came home.

Negative

Subject + had not (hadn't) + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

They hadn't finished their homework before the teacher asked them to hand it in.

Question

(Question Word) + had + subject + past participle + object(s) + time Expression

Where had you gone before the class began?

Future Continuous
Usage and Construction

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``````

The future continuous is used to talk about an activity that will be in progress at a specific point in
time in the future. For example, We'll be having lunch on the beach this time next week.

This tense is often used with the following time expressions:

...this time tomorrow / next week, month, year


...tomorrow / Monday, Tuesday, etc. / at X o'clock
... in two, three, four, etc. / weeks, months, years time

Basic Construction

Positive

Subject + will + be + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

Peter will be doing his homework this time tomorrow.

Negative

Subject + will not (won't) + be + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

Sharon won't be working in New York in three weeks time.

Question

(Question Word) + will + subject + be + verb + ing + object(s) + time Expression

What will you be doing this time next year?


``````