Past Progressive Tense – 10 Minute English Grammar

The sentence formation follows:

  Singular Number Plural Number
1st Person I was eating We were eating = We’re eating
2nd Person You were eating = You’re eating You were eating = You’re eating
3rd Person He was eating = He’s eating  
  She was eating = She’s eating They were eating = They’re eating
  It was eating = It’s eating  

Uses of The Past Progressive (Continuous) Tense:

  1. The past progressive tense is mainly used for past actions which continued for some time, but we may not have an idea about their exact limits. In other words, it is not important to learn the fact how long it went on. Look at the below-mentioned diagram:

. . . . . . ———————-. . . . . .

  • It can be used without a time reference; indicates gradual development.: It was getting difficult.   The temperature was rising.
  • It can also be used with a time reference; denotes that an action which began prior to that time and probably continued then after, too.
    • At nine I was having breakfast says indirectly that I was in the middle of breakfast at nine, i.e. that I started it before nine.
    • I had breakfast at nine would indicate that I started it at nine.
  • With when and while time expression:
    • When I entered the room, my cat was whining.
  • It is used in the indirect narration; a past equivalent of the present progressive tense:
    • Direct speech: She said, ‘I am leaving this place’.

Indirect speech: She said she was leaving that place.

Present Progressive Tense – 10 Minute English Grammar

The sentence formation follows:

  Singular Number Plural Number
1st Person I am eating = I’m eating We are eating = We’re eating
2nd Person You are eating = You’re eating You are eating = You’re eating
3rd Person He is eating = He’s eating  
  She is eating = She’s eating They are eating = They’re eating
  It is eating = It’s eating  

Uses of The Present Progressive (Continuous) Tense:

  1. For an action happening at the time of speaking: She is weeping.   I am wearing a scarf as it will look good.    Why are you complaining me for the act which I did not do?
  2. For an action happening now, but not necessarily at the time of speaking: I am reading a novel in which the girl marries her bodyguard. (I may not be reading at the moment of speaking, but it means ‘now’ in a more general sense.)      My sister is learning French and teaching English. (She may not be doing either at the time of speaking)
  3. For a definite arrangement taking place in the near future (it refers to the immediate plans): Our company is opening up a new branch in Toronto next month.  My friends are coming tonight, and I am taking them to the theatre.
  4. With always, especially for obstinate habits – something which persists and annoys: My dog, Jericho is very silly; he is always jumping on the kitchen platform for human food.   I know you very well. You are always losing your keys.
  5. Certain involuntary actions are not usually used in the continuous tenses:
    1. Verbs of senses/perception: hear, notice, recognize, see, smell

However, there is certain deliberate use of senses, such as listen, gaze, look (at), observe (= watch), watch and stare and of course, we can use them in the progressive tense:

I am watching this place carefully, but don’t see anything unusual.

Rita is listening to the IELTS tape, but she has put on the headphones so nobody else hears it.

  • Verbs of emotions and feelings: admire (= respect), adore, appreciate (= value), care for, desire, detest, dislike, fear, feel, hate, hope, loathe, love, mind (= care), respect, prefer, refuse, value, want, wish

Some verbs can also be used in the progressive tense depending upon the context (deliberate actions). For example, admire means to look at with admiration, value means to decide the worth, appreciate means to increase in value over a period of time, enjoy and at times love/like means to enjoy, and hate means the opposite. Yet it is safer to use the simple tense with love, like and hate:

Do you like your new job? How are you liking your new job?

I hate touristy places, but I am enjoying this place for some unexplained reasons.

I love eating burgers, but I don’t know why I am not loving it today.

  • Verbs of appearing: seem, look, appear

It seems acceptable, so you are good to go.

She looks beautiful, but today she is looking stunningly a knockout girl.

  • Verbs of thinking: agree, appreciate (= understand), assume, believe, expect (= think), feel (= think), feel sure/certain, forget, know, mean, perceive, realize, recall, recognize, recollect, remember, see (= understand) see through someone (= penetrated his attempt to deceive) suppose, think (= have an opinion), trust (= believe/have confidence in), understand

I do not agree with you on this point. And I assume you have a long way to go yet.

I see through his devious plan and also feel certain that he won’t be successful in it.

  • Verbs of possession: possess, own, owe, belong

How much does she owe you?

Do you own this bungalow?

Did you know?

Some native speakers and singers do not pronounce ‘ing’ entirely, but they pronounce only ‘in’ and omit ‘g’. For example, “Quit playin games with me” instead of “Quit playing games with me.”

There is also a non-standard short form for am not, is not, are not, have not and has not. It is ain’t.  For example, “Quit playin games with me.”  ~ “No, I ain’t.”

Indian English

  1. I belong to Ahmedabad.

This expression reminds me of the past era. It is a kind of allegiance to any ruler. It looks as if you show your allegiance to a city. Yes, when somebody asks you where you are from. Better say the following way:

I come from Ahmedabad or I am from Ahmedabad.

  • She is doing her graduation in Cincinnati.

The moment I hear the word ‘graduation’, it reminds me of my graduation ceremony day, dressing up in a gown and cap to receive the degree certificate after studying a three-year undergraduate degree. But it is not the case in India. ‘Doing graduation’ refers to the full undergraduate or graduate degree. It does not say about the one special day for which students wait anxiously in life. ‘I did my graduation at the University of Toronto’ is the equivalent of saying ‘I studied for my degree at the University of Toronto’ – in the context of India.

  • I passed out of college last year.

As per the Oxford dictionary, the phrasal verb ‘to pass out’ means ‘to become unconscious’. Therefore, if I put this statement into a literal translation, it comes out like ‘I became unconscious at the college last year’. Do we mean this? I guess not. It should be, “I graduated last year”.

  • My sister is convent-educated.

So, the meaning of convent-educated in the context of India is somebody who has studied in a school where the medium of instruction was English. Parents proudly mention this expression on matrimonial ads/websites. There was a time when teaching in India was generally delivered by members of the clergy, but it is not the case anymore. The choice is yours whether you want to use this expression or not.

  • Please do the needful.

The ‘Grammarly Blog’ describes this expression in a cogent way. The writer or speaker here wants to say is ‘do that which is needed’ or ‘do what needs to be done’.

“If it sounds too chunky or vague to you, or if your audience will be unfamiliar with it, you can politely ask people to do what you need them to do instead”.

  • My father is out of station.

I don’t really understand the rationale behind this statement. There could be many stations in the town, such as the railway station, bus station, and other types of stations. Which station is referred to here? It can simply be said like this: My father is away or My father is not present in the place.

  • I preponed my tour.

There is no word such as prepone in the English language, but it has certainly been invented by Indians. Yes, it has been added to the dictionary because it has widely been used in India. Let’s put this word in the context: I am out of my station next week so I will prepone this job tomorrow.

The right way of speaking: I will do this job tomorrow as I am away next week.

  • He is a four-twenty.

420 is an Indian Penal Code (IPC) which states cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property. In a way, it attributes to the IPC for a cheat. Why complicate? Make it simple by saying: He is a thug.

  • My neighbor is foreign-returned.

All right, so this expression also stems from the family of convent-educated. People in India perceive valuable studying or living abroad and when somebody returns to India after living another country, they are called as foreign-returned. However, there is no such expression anywhere in the world but in India. It is an asset in the matrimonial adverts, too.

  1. My teacher is standing/sitting on my head.

It is a colloquial way of comparing. If your teacher is standing or sitting on your head, tell him to get down and make a complaint to the principal.

My teacher is stressing me out.

  1. He was doing this thing and that thing.

It is another colloquial way of comparing. He was doing all sorts of things, wasting my time.

  1. Do one thing.

It is a common expression while suggesting or ordering someone to do something, but it also brings some laughing. The right way of speaking is ‘There is one thing you could do’.

  1. Aakash is my cousin brother:

We never use a brother or a sister after the noun ‘cousin’. The word ‘cousin’ itself proves a relationship. Aakash is my cousin.

  1. According to me…

According to someone or anyone is all acceptable but not according to me. Grammatically some sentence structures cannot be challenged, but their finesse and usage will certainly be questionable. ‘According to me’ is one among them. There is no such expression. The right one is: To me or In my opinion or My viewpoint is…

  1. Myself is Ronak.

This one is the deadliest. Right from the beginning, it gives a funny impression of someone when he introduces himself using ‘myself’. I am Ronak.

Simple Future Tense – 10 Minute English Grammar

Simple Future Tense

The sentence formation follows:

  Singular Number Plural Number
1st Person I shall/will = I’ll We shall/will = We’ll
2nd Person You will/shall = You’ll You will/shall = You’ll
3rd Person He will = He’ll  
  She will = She’ll They will = They’ll
  It will = It’ll  

Uses of The Simple Future Tense:

  1. It is used for simple future actions/commitments: We shall practice hard to win the competition.    She will remember me forever.
  2. It is used with the point of time: Next Tuesday, our website will be functional.    Next week, the government will clear all the pending dues of the recipients. Next month, we shall fly to the USA.
  3. It is used with In + Period: They will arrive in two hours.    I shall return your book in a week.
  4. Going to Future: It is going to rain soon.    Are you going to help me or not?
  5. We use ‘shall’ for determination and the same way the determination is normally expressed by ‘will’: Sometimes public speakers and others believe in using ‘shall’ instead of ‘will’ to express the determination. They feel that it is a heavier word.
    1. I am sure you shall win this competition.
    1. You shall have your share after you complete your job.
    1. We will, we will rock you (a popular song, sung by Freddie Mercury, Queen).
    1. We will not (won’t) accept his terms under any circumstances.
  6. It is used to express the speaker’s assumptions, opinions, speculations about the future. Such sentences may be introduced by verbs, such as be afraid, believe, assume, daresay, be/feel sure, expect, know, hope, doubt, think, suppose, wonder. They may be accompanied by adverbs, such as probably, perhaps, surely, possibly, but can also be used without them:
    1. (I’m sure) she’ll agree to this proposal
    1. (I suppose) they won’t be able to meet the deadline of the project.
    1. (Perhaps) you’ll find a better partner.
    1. They’ll (probably) come with us.

Simple Past Tense – 10 Minute English Grammar

The sentence formation follows:

  Singular Number Plural Number
1st Person I did We did
2nd Person You did You did
3rd Person He did  
  She did They did
  It did  

Uses of The Simple Past Tense:

  1. The past tense refers to actions completed in the past at a definite time:
    1. Actions with the specific time given: We met them to discuss this proposal yesterday.    His father passed away in 2016. I was born in 1990.
    1. When actions took place even though time is not mentioned: The bus arrived 10 minutes late.    How did you convince him to work with you?    I bought a Volvo S90 car in Canada.
  2. The past tense is used for a past habit: She always carried a water bottle.    My father drank the cold milk.
    1. We can also use ‘used to’ or ‘would’ for past habitual actions: My father used to drink cold milk. My father would drink cold milk.
  3. The past tense is also used in conditional sentences when the supposition is contrary to known facts: If I were you, I would not have done such a mistake (But I am not you.)

Note: The same sentence can also be constructed in other way as well: Were I you, I would not have done such a mistake (But I am not you.)

If I knew this fact beforehand, I would not have permitted him to go and talk to him. (But I don’t know this fact.)

For the unreal past, we use subjunctive mood with as though, as if, it is time, if only, would sooner/rather and wish.

She is crying as if she were a child. (But she is not a child)

  • The past tense is used for describing incidents/accidents: The plane was hijacked by terrorists.    Two pilots were killed in a helicopter crash.
  • The past tense is used for narrating stories and history: Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a brave king.    There was a clever crow.    The 1897 battle of Saragarhi was the epitome of bravery, sacrifice and valor.    Baji Rao never lost a battle in his life.