This is the fifth and final part of our holistic review of grammar.

Part 4 ended with two questions:

What are the three most important factors involved in choosing a verb form?

How does each factor help us express what we want to communicate?

  1. TENSE:

    1. Present (speaker views action/situation as real and relevant now)

    2. Past (speaker views action/situation as remote from now, either in time (yesterday), reality(I wish…) or power/politeness (would you please …. ?)

  2. ASPECT:

    1. Simple/ infinitive (complete actions/constants)

    2. Continuous/ing form (Actions in progress)

    3. Perfect (Actions previous to and relevant to/explaining a situation


    1. Modal verbs describe the speakers attitude to/judgement of a situation

    2. Non-modal forms describe the situation itself

These factor are combined to create the form we need to express exactly what we want. For example:

Why was John late for class? (PAST SIMPLE – referring to a past fact)

I’m not sure, but I think he might have been playing football (MODAL -possibility – PERFECT – previous to moment in question – CONTINUOUS -speaker imagines action in process), because he was covered in mud! (PASTSIMPLE -past fact denoting the moment the previous form refers to and reiterating the time reference in the question (John was late for class)

THESE ARE FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS THAT NEED TO BE APPLIED. Their Objective is to provoke thought: to get you thinking, to question them, to put them to the test and possibly to refine or refute them. They are a beginning, not an end. So, be audacious, experiment, make the language yours! Good luck!

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