We’ve finally learned the different pieces that we need to understand in order to discuss some more advanced tenses. We’ve mentioned them briefly in Text: Verb Types, and they came up again in Text: Non-Finite Verbs.
These tenses include things like “We had been going to the same restaurant for five years.” What’s the difference between this sentence and “We went to the same restaurant for five years?” While both sentences have the same meaning, the first sentence creates a sense of continuity: it’s something that happened repeatedly. There’s an even bigger difference when you look at future tenses:
- She will eat 500 gummy bears.
- She will have eaten 500 gummy bears.
In the first sentence, the entirety of the action takes place in the future. In the second sentence, we get a sense that the action will be complete some time in the future.
These forms are created with different forms of to be and to have. When you combine a form of to be with the present participle, you create a continuous tense; these tenses indicate a sense of continuity. The subject of the sentence was (or is, or will be) doing that thing for awhile.
- Present: is working
- Past: was working
- Future: will be working (You can also say “is going to be working.”)
When you combine a form of to have with the past participle of a verb, you create a perfect tense; these tenses indicate a sense of completion. This thing had been done for a while (or has been, or will have been).
- Present: has worked
- Past: had worked
- Future: will have worked
You can also use these together. To have must always appear first, followed by the past participle been. The present participle of any verb can then follow. These perfect continuous tenses indicate indicate that the verb started in the past, and is still continuing:
- Present: has been working
- Past: had been working
- Future: will have been working
Follow the instructions in each item:
- Convert this sentence from a simple tense to a continuous tense: Ivone wrote a collection of short stories entitled Vidas Vividas.
- Convert this sentence from a simple tense to a perfect tense: As a pilot, Sara will fly a lot of cross-country flights.
- Convert this sentence from a simple tense to a perfect continuous tenses: Zachi reads all of the latest articles on archeology.
- The past continuous is was + present participle, so the correct sentence is
- Ivone was writing a collection of short stories entitled Vidas Vividas.
- The future perfect is will have + past participle:
- As a pilot, Sara will have flown a lot of cross-country flights.
- The present perfect continuous is has been + present participle:
- Zachi has been reading all of the latest articles on archeology.
Sometimes these verb tenses can be split by adverbs: “Zachi has been studiously reading all of the latest articles on archeology.”
Now that we’ve learned about how we create each of these tenses, let’s practice using them. In this exercise, you will be asked to create some original writing. As you do so, use both simple and complex verb tenses.
Look at the following schedule for a Writer’s Workshop. Write a passage about the schedule as if it were Tuesday at 12:30.
|10:00||Check-In||Genre Speakers||Meet Editors/Agents|
|11:00||Group Orientation||Genre Speakers|
|1:00||Peer-to-Peer Critique||Professional Critiques|
This Writer’s Workshop has been going since yesterday. This morning, several genre speakers talked about the quirks of their genres. By the time attendees heard these talks, they had completed their peer-to-peer critiques, and were ready to learn more specific things about the genre they aspire to write in. After lunch today, each attendee will meet with a professional for a critique of the work. When that has finished, the key-note speaker will give an address. Tomorrow there will be a meet and greet with editors and agents. By noon tomorrow, the workshop will have ended.