Jumat, Desember 11, 2009

Grammar Lesson Part 3

Using wish to talk about the past

(If you want to see how to use wish in the present tense, click here)

This form is used when right now you are thinking about or wishing that something in the past happened differently. You think about something that cannot be changed, almost like a dream or a regret.

use wish (that) + subject + had (not) + past participle


I wish I had gone to Australia last year. (Now you regret you didn't go to Australia last year.)

James wishes he had studied harder. (Now you wish you studied more before.)

The students wish their teacher hadn't given them homework. (Now the students feel bad that their teacher gave homework before.)

Alice wishes she hadn't eaten so much pie. (Now Alice feels sick. She wonders why she ate so much pie before.)

Past Participles

Look at these tenses:

present, past, past participle
be, was or were, been
sing, sang, sung
drink, drank, drunk
do, did, done
go, went, gone
make, made, made
find, found, found
talk, talked, talked
eat, ate, eaten
swim, swam, swum
read, read, read
write, wrote, written
give, gave, given

Now let's practice the past participle by using the present perfect tense. It shows something that started in the past, but continues until now.

has/have (not) + past participle


She has done her homework.

They have gone for a walk.

Julia hasn't eaten anything today.

The men haven't talked about the women

Very vs. Too

Look at the two sentences. How are they different?

A: It is very hot.
B: It is too hot.

A is a simple statement- It's HOT!

But B shows some difficulty, like maybe because it is so hot, I feel terrible. Or because it is so hot, no one is happy.

Here are some more...

C: Lisa is very tall.
D: Lisa is too tall.

C is a simple statement. Wow! Lisa is a tall girl.

But D has a negative feeling. Perhaps because Lisa is tall, she hits her head on the ceiling. Or maybe she is so tall, she can't get a date or has no friends.

So remember, using too shows that there is a problem with the situation

Using must as a conclusion

We looked at how to use must a couple of months ago. Must used like that shows necessity. (You must study hard if you want to pass the test.)

Now we will look at another way to use must. This is when you think something is true based on a logical conclusion (or what you think is true.)

For example: You hear something on the roof that sounds like raindrops. You say It must be raining. (You can guess it's raining because you hear the raindrops.)

Or: Your co-worker goes to the swimming pool everyday. You think he probably likes to swim. You might say He must like to swim.

Or: A boy eats everything on his plate except the beans. You might think He must not like beans.

So remember, must comes before the verb. If it is a negative sentence, use must not before the verb

Using wish in the present tense

When you say "I wish..." you are talking about something that you want but probably will not happen, or you don't think will happen. Like I wish I had a million dollars. (It is different from the word hope. If you hope for something, it means you think it could be possible.)

Here are some examples:

I wish I had a new job.
Teri wishes she knew Tom Cruise.
Jim wishes Karen liked to cook.
The boys wish they could go to Hawaii.

Notice you use the past tense verb in the clause after wish.  But when you use a be verb in the clause, always use were

I wish I were the president.
She wishes she were here now.
We wish we were at home

The Present Perfect Progressive Tense

This tense talks about how long you have been doing something you started in the past and still continue now.

have/has been + verb+ing

like has been studying or have been running

Generally when you use this tense you want to say how long something has been happening, so you will use since or for if you tell the amount of time.


Mary has been studying English since 1992.
The kids have been running for 15 minutes.
Karen has been singing all morning.
The students have been practicing the play since last month.

Remember, it is an activity that started before and continues through now.

Using Since and For

Use since + (a specific time) like March 31, or 9:19 a.m., or Tuesday.

I have been studying English since 1993.
John has helped me since 10:00 this morning.
Those people have been in Europe since August.

Note: Because we are talking about a time in the past until now, we have to use have/has + past participle when we use since.


Use for + (a length of time) like 1 day, or 3 hours, or 5 years.

I have been studying English for 4 years.
John has helped me for 8 hours.
Those people went to Europe for 2 months.

Note: It is possible to use the past tense when you use for if the action is finished

Using the Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is made like this:

have/has + past participle.

Here are some examples of the past participle:
been      eaten
gone      played
done      read
become  written

We use it to talk about a something that started in the past and continued until now.

Examples:  I have been in California for 2 years.  (From 2 years ago in the past until now, I have been in California.  I didn't live in another place.)

or   Karen has gone to school everyday since she was 5 years old.  (From the time she was 5 years old -in the past- until now, she has gone to school.  She didn't stop going to school.)

Use to/ Used to

There is a little confusion on how to use the words use to and used to. One reason for the confusion is that it is sometimes used as a verb, and sometimes used as an adjective. The other reason is because it seems like the tense changes. It's really quite simple when you look at it.

Used as an adjective. Use to be + used to. This means to be accustomed to. For example- I can study with the TV on. I am used to it. It means I am accustomed, adjusted, or don't mind having the TV play while I'm studying.

Or another example- Tim had a hard time living in Tokyo. He wasn't used to so many people. Tim didn't have experience being with big crowds of people before.

Used as a verb. Use to + verb is a regular verb and means something that happened but doesn't happen any more.  It uses -ed to show past tense.  But since it always means something that happened in the past, it should always use past tense.  For example-  I used to go to school in Paris.  (I went to school there before, but now I don't.)  Or,  When Joshua was a child, he used to climb trees.  (Now he doesn't climb trees.)

Remember, we always use this word when talking about the past.  So when do you use use to without the d at the end?  When the base form of the verb is used.  Look at these examples-  She didn't use to swim before noon.  (Now she does swim before noon.)  Or  Did your father use to ride a horse?   In these cases the past tense is shown with the did and didn't

In, At, On + Time or Date

When is your birthday? Mine is ON October 12. When do you eat lunch? I usually eat it AT noon. When does the school year begin in your country? In mine it begins IN September.

Do you know which preposition to use before times, days, months and years? Here is a reminder.

Don't forget to use...

in + month or year- In March, In 2003

on + date (with the year or without it) or day of the week- On April 2, On March 3, 1999, On Saturday

at + clock time, midnight, noon- At 3:30 p.m., At 4:01, At noon

Remember also...

in + season- In the summer, In the winter

in + morning, afternoon, evening- In the morning, In the evening

at + night- At night

Simple Past vs. Past Progressive Tense

Remember- the simple past talks about something that happened before. It happened and it finished. Some words are regular and just have -ed added at the end like walked, helped, and played. Others are irregular and have many variations like ate, began, and slept.

The past progressive talks about something that was happening before, but for a period of time. It uses was or were + verb-ing like was eating or were playing. It gives a background for something that was happening while a different event happened.

Example: While I was eating, the telephone rang.
So, during the time I was eating (let's say from 6:30-7:00 p.m.) somebody called my house (let's say they called at 6:49p.m.) One thing happened (simple past) during the period of time another thing was happening (past progressive.)

Here is another example: They saw an old man as they were walking down the street.

You can think of walking as a video. You see the movement. You see the time passing. Think of saw as a photo. It is one point of time. You don't think of the time passing.

I dreamed in English when I was sleeping.
She was listening to the radio when the mail came.
They visited Sydney when they were traveling in Australia.

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