To start learning elementary tenses you need to know what they look like, and when they are used. Let’s start with present simple and continuous, and see how they look with the verb go. If you are already confident with when we use these elementary tenses, please practise speaking them HERE to develop your fluency. If these are too easy, try the intermediate lessons HERE
(Repeated present actions which happen every day/week/month. STATIVE VERBS)
He/she it goes
I/you/we/they don’t go
He/she/it doesn’t go
Do I/you/we/they go…?
Does he/she/it go…?
(Actions which are happening now. Unfinished actions we are ‘in the middle of’. DYNAMIC VERBS)
I am going
We/you/they are going
He/she/it is going
I’m not going
We/you/they aren’t going
He/she/it isn’t going
Am I going…?
Are you/we/they going…?
Is he/she/it going…?
In this English lesson on elementary tenses, you will learn when to use present simple and present continuous
Now test your understanding with a quiz
(Finished past actions. STATIVE VERBS)
Did I/you/we/they/she/he/it didn’t go
Did I/you/we/they/she/he/it go?
Past simple can be difficult for many students, because there are many irregular verbs (like go/went, or speak/spoken). Here is a class where you can learn some irregular verbs.
Please check your progress with these irregular verb questions
(Unfinished past actions. Actions we were in the middle of. DYNAMIC VERBS)
I/he/she/it was going
you/we/they were going
I/he/she/it wasn’t going
You/we/they weren’t going
Was I/he/she/it going…?
Were you/we/they going…?
OK, now check when we should use these elementary tenses in the following lesson
And please test your knowledge of past simple and continuous with this quiz
Revise elementary tenses
If you are still uncertain of how we use present simple/continuous and past simple/continuous, don’t panic! Here are 2 more lessons which take you slowly through some questions for these tenses. Also you can practise speaking these tenses on my new illustrated course for elementary students HERE. Firstly, let’s review present simple and continuous:
And secondly, we’ll revise the use of past simple and continuous with the following questions.
PRESENT PERFECT (have or has + 3rd form)
The next step for the elementary student is the hardest. Now, you must learn how to use present perfect, and to understand this elementary tense, it’s best to compare it with the past simple tense. But first, let’s see what present perfect looks like. It is formed by adding the third form of the verb (also called the past participle) to the auxiliary verb ‘have’ or ‘has’.
I/you/we/they have gone
He/she it has gone
I/you/we/they haven’t gone
He/she/it hasn’t gone
Have I/you/we/they gone…?
Has he/she/it gone…?
So, when do we use present perfect?
1) Present perfect is used to ask questions about general events in life (if we don’t know when they happened, and we don’t know the details yet).
Have you seen ‘Titanic’? Have you read ‘War and Peace’? Have you been to France?
2) It is also used for past actions which have results in the present.
I have done my homework – here it is! Look!
My car has disappeared. It has been stolen.
3) Lastly, it is used for long periods of time that continue into the present. These are unfinished periods.
I have worked here for 5 years
I have known him all my life
How long have you lived in your flat?
4) Some words are a signal to use present perfect. Yet, already, just, ever, never, for and since
Some words are a signal to use past simple. Ago, last week, 1998, in August, when
Please watch the following lesson for more details:
And now repeat this knowledge by looking closely at a few sentences, and decide whether the verb should be in past simple, or present perfect.
If you are still unsure about this new tense, I have an illustrated series on lessons which may help you with all the elementary tenses we have studied so far. Here is lesson 5 which examines present perfect, but please try the first four lessons as they are also useful.
PREPOSITIONS OF TIME
We need to use time expressions when constructing basic sentences in English, and so you will need to learn how to use the prepositions IN, ON and AT. Generally speaking, the prepositions obey the following rules
ON = specific day or date (On Monday, On March the 5th, On my birthday)
IN = longer period (In Summer, In 1991, In January, In the morning, In the evening, In 3 hours)
AT = Times of the day and festivals (At 3:30, at Christmas, at Easter, at night, at the weekend)
For + period of time
Since + point in time
And please test your knowledge with the following questions
The next English lesson compares the words MUCH and MANY, and FEW and LITTLE. To understand the difference between these words, you must understand that some nouns can be counted (like friends, oranges, houses) while other nouns can’t be counted (like water, money, or work).
Use MUCH and LITTLE with uncountable nouns (How much water do you have? I don’t have much money. There is very little work for us to do)
Use MANY and FEW with countable nouns (How many oranges are left? I don’t have many friends. There are very few houses in this street)
More details can be found in the lesson
PREPOSITIONS OF SPACE
Let’s revise what we have already learned about the tenses, and pick up some new skills with the prepositions ON, IN and AT. In the following lesson you will learn the basic difference between these 3 prepositions, while repeating some of the tenses we have already learned.
COMPARISONS AND SUPERLATIVES
Making comparisons in English is quite easy. The rule which you must follow for both comparitives and superlatives is rather basic.
Small words (1 syllable) + ‘er’ , + the _____ ‘est’
Cheap, cheaper, the cheapest
Hot, hotter, the hottest
(Exceptions: good, better, the best; bad, worse, the worst)
2 syllable words ending in y
Funny, funnier, the funniest
Happy, happier, the happiest
Big words (2 syllable or more)
interesting, more interesting, the most interesting
exciting, more exciting, the most exciting
More details in this English lesson
Future tenses are much easier than past/present tenses in my opinion. The main thing to remember is:
WILL/WON’T/GOING TO = predictions
WILL/ WON’T (+ infinitive) = spontaneous decisions, offers, promises, suggestions (I’ll help you carry your luggage)
GOING TO (+ infinitive) = future plans (I’m going to go to Greece in summer)
This is an elementary passive lesson, and so we only examine present simple and past simple in the passive. If anyone would like to look at passive in more detail, they should try the following page which has a harder lesson, and a quiz to test your skills
PRESENT SIMPLE = is/are/am + 3rd form (Rice is grown in China. Toyota cars are made in Japan)
PAST SIMPLE = was/were + 3rd form (I was born in England. He was killed in Korea)
FIRST AND SECOND CONDITIONAL
It’s necessary to use the word ‘if’ a lot when speaking in English. It is the only way to express yourself conditionally. To use ‘if’ correctly, you must memorize and practice using the following formulas
FIRST CONDITIONAL (likely situations)
IF + PRESENT SIMPLE / WILL or WON’T + infinitive
If you come to the party, you will enjoy yourself.
If it rains, we won’t have a picnic.
SECOND CONDITIONAL (Unlikely situations)
IF + PAST SIMPLE / WOULD or WOULDN’T + infinitive
If I found some money, I would buy my wife some flowers.
If I were president, I would decrease taxes.
More details and examples can be found in this elementary lesson:
Would you like to know more about conditionals? Click on the following link to learn much more information than can be provided in this elementary lesson
GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES
We form a gerund by taking the infinitive of the verb and adding ‘ing’ to it. As such, the verb looks like it is in a continuous tense, but students should understand that a gerund is not in any tense. We use gerunds, infinitive or ‘to’ plus infinitive in different situations.
USE GERUND AFTER THESE VERBS (I hate going to the shops!)
like, love, hate, enjoy
start, finish, stop, begin
suggest, recommend, regret, admit, avoid, deny
can’t stand, can’t bear, can’t help
mind, imagine, keep, miss
prefer, risk, practice
USE INFINITIVE (without to) AFTER ALL MODAL VERBS (I can’t stop smoking)
would, should, can, could, may, might, will, and negative forms too.
USE INFINITIVE (with to) AFTER MOST OTHER VERBS (I want to go to the cinema)
USE GERUNDS AFTER PREPOSITIONS (He’s interested in learning English)
USE GERUNDS AS THE SUBJECT OF THE SENTENCE (Cooking is lots of fun)
USE INFINITIVE (with to) AFTER ADJECTIVES (It’s difficult to study a new language)
USE INFINITIVE (with to) TO SHOW PURPOSE (Let’s go to the shops to buy some milk)
Please test your skills with the following quiz
Perhaps you would like to learn this topic in greater detail? Please click on the following link to learn more about gerunds and infinitives
Phrasal verbs are some of the hardest words for students to learn in this elementary course. They are hard because they often have multiple meanings, and yet English people use them all the time, and they learn them when they are very young children. The following elementary lesson only deals with the most simple phrasal verbs:
Please click on the following link for more than 30 lessons and hundreds of new phrasal verbs. The first five lessons have the most common phrasal verbs in an illustrated format, and so they should be quite easy to memorize. These words are vital for communicating in English effectively.
Questions can be very tricky in English. The following elementary lesson looks at the word order of questions. The word order follows the following pattern
QUESTION / AUXILIARY / SUBJECT / MAIN VERB / PREPOSITION
However, not all questions in English follow this pattern. Some questions don’t need an auxiliary verb. This lesson demonstrates that no auxiliary verb is required when the question word is the subject of the sentence. I have tried to explain this in the simplest possible terms, as I understand the concept is harder for younger learners to grasp.
And you can test yourself using the following elementary questions
Modal verbs are frequently used and so they are essential for the elementary student. The following lessons deals with these basic modal verbs.
MUST / HAVE TO (obligation)
SHOULD / SHOULDN’T (opinion)
DON’T HAVE TO (not necessary)
MUSTN’T (not allowed)
Now test your understanding with some elementary questions
And if you would like to learn more about this interesting topic, try the following webpage which has an intermediate lesson on modal verbs.