Past Simple · present simple · tenses · Verb

Basic Tenses Review  – Easy Grammar

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By Jacqueline Schaalje

esl_Julie_25.11.14

I’ve been sending you lots of articles about tenses and grammar and more tenses and more grammar, but how well do you know them?

Just for a change, try the quiz first. Click here to do this online.

Basic Tenses Review

icon03Choose one of the sentences. (Only one is correct.)

1 You meet someone at a party and you want to ask what their job is. You ask:

A What do you do?

B What are you doing?

2 You’re in the office and you see your colleague making a paper ball of an important document that you wrote. You say:

A What do you do?

B What are you doing?

3 You’re talking to someone and you couldn’t hear what they said. You ask:

A What did you just say?

B What are you saying?

4 People next to where you are sitting are noisy. You remark to your friend:

A Those people next to us talk loudly.

B Those people next to us are talking loudly.

5 You want to explain where your house is. You say:

A I live in the city centre.

B I’m living in the city centre.

6 You want to ask a guest in what hotel they are. You ask:

A Where do you stay?

B Where are you staying?

7 You want to tell someone about your new neighbour. You say:

A My new neighbour is a nice man.

B My new neighbour is being a nice man.

8 You’re complaining about the weather in London. You say:

A It rains very often.

B Look, it’s raining.

9 You want to tell a friend that Marjorie is a great cook. You say:

A Marjorie cooks well.

B Marjorie is cooking well.

10 You can’t make calls from your telephone. You say:

A My telephone doesn’t work.

B My telephone isn’t working.

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Explanation

You might have done everything perfectly. In that case, congratulations! You’re an ace.

If you had some mistakes, check this out:

Whenever a situation is permanent (forever, or often the case, or it comes back all the time), you use Present Simple. Present Simple is the basic form of the verb. Only he, she and it get an –s.

For instance, look at question 5. When you always live in the same house, you use Present Simple, so live and not living.

Living, with –ing, is part of the Present Progressive. This you use when situations are not permanent, but they take place now or for a short period of time. They’re not fixed.

Have a look at question 4: the people are talking loudly now. It doesn’t mean that they’re always talking loudly. Maybe these particular people always talk loudly, but we don’t know that. So talking with –ing.

Question 6 is another example of a situation that is not permanent. People stay at a hotel for a short period. It’s not their home. So you use staying with –ing.

In question 3 you have to use the Past. This you use when things happen in the past, and not now. In this question this person said something. It’s not now. So a question with “did” is correct here.

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5 thoughts on “Basic Tenses Review  – Easy Grammar

  1. Yeah, thanks for this. But it says: Complain about the weather. And the situation in question 10 was presumed to be temporary, as you wouldn’t normally go around with a broken telephone for a year.

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  2. Questions 8 and 10 are ambiguous. For 8 you could be in London talking to someone about the weather right now, or about London’s weather generally. For 10, in my mind either could be used – I suppose it depends on whether it’s presumed to be a temporary or permanent condition for the individual piece of equipment.

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