CBSE English Grammar


Read the following sentences carefully :

  1. Birds fly in the air.
  2. My brother flew to England last week.
  3. I shall fly a kite on Sunday.

In the first sentence the Verb ‘fly* refers to the action in Present time, in the second sentence the Verb ‘flew’ refers to the action in the Past, while the Verb in the third sentence ‘shall fly’ refers to the action in Future.

2. The Tense of a Verb shows the time when an action takes place.There are three Tenses :I. Present TenseII. Past TenseIII. Future Tense

3. In order to show at what stage an action is, each of the three tenses has been sub-divided into four heads. These sub-divisions are—

Tense Indefinite Continuous or Progressive Perfect Perfect Continuous
Present I play I am playing I have played I have been playing
Past I played I was playing I had played I had been playing
Future I shall play I shall be playing I shall have played I shall have been playing

Thus, the tense of a verb does not show the time of an action or event alone. It shows the state of that action also.

I. The Present Tense

A. Simple Present TenseThe Simple Present is used to express :(i) A habitual action(ii) A general truth(iii) What is happening (in exclamatory sentences only)(iv) An order or request.

(i) A habitual action :I go for a walk daily.He comes to school at 8 O’clock.(ii) General truth :The sun rises in the east.Two and two make four.(iii) What is happening :Here comes the chief guest!(iv) An order or request:Obey your teachers.


B. Present Continuous Tense(Is/am/ are + Verb + ing)(i) In order to form the Present Continuous Tense, we add Present Participleto is, am or are. The Present Participle is formed by adding ‘ing’ to the first form of the verb.‘Is’ is used with he, she, it or Third Person Singular Noun, ‘am’ is used with T and ‘are’ is used with we, you, they and plural Nouns. .Examples : She is singing a song.

(ii) In Interrogative form, the helping verb is used before the subject.IIs/am/are + Subject + (Verb + ing) …. ?)Examples : Are you going home ?

(iii) In Negative form, we add ‘not between the Principal Verb and the operative helping verb.[Subject + is/am/are + not + {Verb + ing) …]Examples y She is not weeping.

Uses of the Present Continuous TenseThe Present Continuous Tense is used with the words—at this time, at present, at the moment, now, nowadays, still etc. and in the following cases :(a) To describe an action in progress and/or the continuity of the action.The girls are singing a chorus.(b) To describe an action in progress, but not necessarily at the time of speaking.India is exporting onions to the Middle East.What are you writing these days ?


C. Present Perfect Tense(Subject + Has /have + III form of the verb)(i) In the Present Perfect Tense the past participle (III)) form of the verb is used with has or have. ‘Has’ is added with third person singular subjects, as—‘he’, ‘she’, ‘if and ‘Have’ is added with T, ‘we’, ‘you’, ‘they and plural nouns.He has won a prize.You have insulted me.I have taken the dose of medicine.

(ii) In Interrogative form [Has, have are placed before the subject.](Has/have + Subject + III form of the Verb…?)Have they crossed the river ?Where have you seen my brother ?

(iii) In Negative form [‘not’ is used between the main verb and the helping verb.](Subject : has /have + not + III form of the Verb…)She has not come yet.I have not received any information.

Uses of the Present Perfect TenseThe Present Perfect Tense is used with the words : yet, as yet, already, just, just now, so far, since, ever since, presently, once, twice, thrice etc. and in the following cases :(a) To express an action that has been recently completed.I have just received the letter.(b) To describe an action the time of which is not given.The train has steamed in.(c) To describe a past experience.I have seen this picture several times.(d)To express an action that began in the Past and still continues.He has worked in this school for five years, (is still working)


D. Present Perfect Continuous Tense(Subject + has /have + been + I form of the Verb + trig…)

In order to form the Present Perfect Continuous Tense, we put has been or have been before the Present Participle Form of the Verb ; as—It has been raining for two hours.I have beenjlying a kite since 2 O’clock.(a) The Present Perfect Continuous Tense is used to describe an action that began in the Past, is still continuing and may extend into the Future ; as—She has been waiting for you for three hours.They have been playing cards since 10 A. M.(b) This tense is also used to express an action in a sentence which begins with ‘For how long’ or ‘Since when’, as in—For how long have you been sitting here ?Since when has he been living in this house ?(c) This tense is also used to express an action which began in the past and has been just completed. However, its result is visible in the present, as in—I have been studying since morning and I am much tired now.She has been washing the dishes for an hour and her clothes are dirty now.Note : Since is used for a point of time.For is used for a period of time.


II. The Past Tense

A. The Past Indefinite Tense Or The Simple Past Tense(Subject + II form of the Verb…)In the Simple Past (Past Indefinite) Tense the second form of the Verb isused; as—He came here yesterday.Did’ is used in the Interrogative and Negative sentences. ‘Did’ is also usedto lay emphasis. Only the first form of the Verb is used with ‘did’.(i) In Interrogative Sentences [‘did’ is placed before the subject and verb in first form after it ; as—](Did + Subject + I form of the Verb…?)Did you show me your homework ?

(ii) In Negative Sentences [‘did not is put after the subject and first form of the verb is used thereafter : as—](Subject + did + not + I form of the Verb…)1 did not apply for leave.Exception—I never told a lie.(This sentence means—I did not ever tell a lie)

(iii) To lay emphasisI did try to solve the question but was not able to solve it.

Uses of the Past Indefinite TenseThe Past Indefinite (Simple Past) Tense is used :(a) To express an action completed in the past with reference to the time of speaking.I saw many birds in the zoo.(b) To express habitual or regular action in the Past.Gandhiji always spoke the truth.(c) To express an event which occurred at a particular point in the Past.My father came back home yesterday.(d) To express an action which occupied a period of time in the Past, but is now ended.We lived in this house for ten years. (do not live now)I stayed at the Green Hotel for two months. (not staying now)(e) To express an action where some word, showing past action [yesterday, ago, last, etc.) is given in the sentence, as,He received your message yesterday.I passed the S.S.C. Examination last year.Mark the correct use of the Past Indefinite Tense in the following sentences.

Incorrect Correct
1. He has passed the Secondary School Ex-amination in 1978. He passed the Secondary School Examina¬tion in 1978.
2. They have left for Agra yesterday. They left for Agra yesterday.
3. She has written a letter to her father last evening. She wrote a letter to her father last evening.
4. Babar has founded the Mughal Empire. Babar founded the Mughal Empire.


Note : The difference in the meaning of the following sentences :(i) He has worked in this office for five years. (He is still working here)(ii) He worked in this office for five years. (He is no longer working here)


B. The Past Continuous Tense(Subject + was/were + I form of the Verb + ing…)(i) The Past Continuous Tense denotes an action going on in the past. In order to form Past Continuous Tense we add Present Participle to was or were ; as—The train was running at full speed.(ii) In Negative form [‘not is placed between the helping verb and the principal verb ; as—](Subject + was/were + not + Verb + ing…)She was not weeping.(iii) In Interrogative form [the helping verb is placed before the subject ; as—] (Was/were + Subject + Verb + ing + … ?)Were the sheep grazing in the field ?

Uses of the Past Continuous Tense(i) The Past Continuous Tense is used to express an action that was happening in the Past at the time of speaking. The time of the action may or may not be mentioned.Examples : The old lady was crying at the top of her voice.They were not making a noise.(ii) The use of this tense with Simple Past Tense denotes that the previous action was going on when the latter action took place ; as—My mother was cooking the food when I reached home.


C. The Past Perfect Tense

[Subject + had + III form of the Verb )We often make mistakes while using the Past Perfect Tense. We use ‘had! at random wherever we view ‘past action’ in a sentence in our mother-tongue.I had gone to Delhi yesterday.This sentence should be formed in Simple past.I went to Delhi yesterday.The structure of Past Perfect is—In order to form the Past Perfect Tense we use ‘had’ before the Past Participle (III) form of the Verb.

(i) In Interrogative form [‘Had! is used before the subject](Had + Subject + Mform of the Verb + ?)Had he left when you came ?(ii) In Negative form [‘nof is used after ‘had’](Subject + had + not + III form of the Verb + )I had not seen you before.

Uses of the Past Perfect Tense(a) The Past Perfect Tense is used to express an action completed before another action took place ; as—When he came to me, I had posted the letter.(b) (i) It is also used to express an unfulfilled action in the past; as—If she had worked hard she would have passed.(ii) It is also used to express an unfulfilled wish in the past; as—I wish I had won the election.(c) To denote the action or event which has been completed before some point oftime.By afternoon he had completed much work.

Use of Past Indefinite and Past Perfect Tenses in Time ClausesWe can express time by using some ‘time-denoting’ Adverbs or through Adverbial clauses of Time. The combination of two past actions depends upon their mutual relevance.Examples :I had waited for my friend until he arrived.After he had sailed many days, the mariner reached the coast.


D. The Past Perfect Continuous Tense(Subject + had + been + Present Participle..(a) The Past Perfect Continuous Tense expresses an action that had been going on for some time in the past. In order to use this tense we use had been with Present Participle (ing) form of the verb.Examples :Children had been playing since morning.(b) The Past Perfect Continuous Tense is also used to express an action that had been going on for some time before another action took place in the past ; as—Examples :They had been playing chess for two hours when I joined them.(i) In Interrogative form, ‘had’ precedes the subject and ‘been’ comes after the subject; as—Had he been quarrelling with you for some time ?(ii) In negative form, ‘not’ is placed after ‘had’ and before ‘been’ ; as—They had not been working on this project for many years.

III. The Future Tense

A. The Simple Future/Future Indefinite Tense(Shall/ will + Verb)The Future Indefinite Tense is used to express the action or event which is likely to happen in Future. In this tense we use shall/ will between the subject andthe first form of the verb. Normally we use ‘shall with pronouns of first person (I, We). In the same way, we use ‘will’ with the pronouns of second person (you) and third person (he, she, it, they).(i) In Negative sentences ‘not is added after ‘shall’/‘wilt as the case may be ;as—We shall not see the picture today.(ii) In Interrogative sentences ‘will’/‘shall’ is placed before the subject and first form of the verb after it; as—Will you go to college today ?

B. The Future Continuous Tense[Will/shall + be + Verb + ing)

The Future Continuous Tense is used to express an event that is expected to take place in the normal course or at some time in the future ; as—We shall be playing a football match on Sunday.The new edition of this book will be coming out shortly.When I reach Calcutta, it will be raining heavily there.Will you be taking part in the debate ? (Interrogative)The farmers will not be watering the plants at this time. (Negative)

C. The Future Perfect Tense(Shall/ will + have + III form of the Verb)

(i) The Future Perfect Tense expresses an action which is expected to be completed by a certain time in the Future ; as—She will have covered half of her journey by Monday next.(ii) The Future Perfect Tense sometimes expresses the speaker’s belief that something has taken place. In such sentences it does not express the Future ; as—“You will have discussed the plans how to celebrate the function”, said my mother.(iii) It is also used for an action which at a given future time will be in the past;as—In two years’ time (i.e., two years from now) I shall have taken my degree.


D. The Future Perfect Continuous Tense[Shall/ will + have been + Verb + ing)The Future Perfect Continuous Tense is used to express an action that will have been going on at or before some point of time in the Future ; as—We shall have been waiting for you for a long time.

Common Errors in the Use of Verbs

Incorrect Correct
1. He is pass in English. He passes in English.
2. Bum the lamp. Light the lamp.
3. When will you give the test ? When will you take the test ?
4. The teacher will take our test in English next week. The teacher will give us a test in English next week.
5. I am ill for four days. I have been ill for four days.
6. She gave a speech. She made a speech.
7. Our team made two goals. Our team scored two goals.
8. I wish I was young again. I wish I were young again !
9. He talks as if he is mad. He talks as if he were mad.
10. What make you laugh ? What makes you laugh ?
11. I hanged my coat on the peg. I hung my coat on the peg.
12. The murderer was hung. The murderer was hanged*.
13. Two and ttvo makes four. Two and two make four.
14. They haue come this morning. They came this morning.
15. He was so thirsty that he drunk all the milk. He was so thirsty that he drank all the milk.
16. I hope he will fail. I fear he will fail
17. I saw into the bus, but looked none. I looked into the bus, but saw none.
18. He works hard lest he should not fail. Our He works hard lest he should fail.
19. Our hen has given ten eggs. Our hen has laid ten eggs.
20. He fell off the roof and died. He fell off the roof and was dead.

* In the past form, ‘Hanged’ is used in the sense of awarding ‘capital punishment’ suspending by the neck until dead.The murderer will be hanged tomorrow.He took off his coat and hung it on a peg.** ‘Not’ is included in ‘lest. ‘Lest’ = in order that—not.

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