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Verbs (Present and Past Tenses) 01
"The swimmer is gasping for breath" is an example of present tense. "The swimmer gasped for breath" is an example of past tense.

Verbs (Present and Past Tenses) 01

Verbs, "doing words", use tenses to show us the time of their action. The present tense is happening now and the past tense has already happened.

Have you ever listened to sports commentary? Often the commentator will be talking in the present tense: "and she passes the ball to Jones....." Later, after the match or during half-time, the commentators will discuss the match using the past tense: "her decision to pass the ball to Jones led to the team's first try..." In the first sentence, the verb "passes" is in the present tense, and in the second, the verb "led" is in the past tense. Pass/passes are present; passed is past tense. Lead/leads are present tense; led is past.

But what about the verb "pass" in the second sentence? It looks like a present tense verb, doesn't it? If you look again, you'll see that the verb here includes the word "to", "to pass". This is an example of an infinitive, which is neither past nor present. You can often find infinitives joined to other verbs, for example: "Hughes decided to pass the ball to Jones, leading to the try." This sentence is also in the past tense. The verb phrase here is "decided to pass", with "decided" indicating the past tense.

If in doubt, have a bash at this quiz on past and present tense verbs.

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1.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The swimmer ....... to ....... a second off the record she .......
is trying, cut, sat
is trying, cut, set
tried, cut, sat
tried, cutting, set
Use present tense in writing to involve your reader
2.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The people ....... their cars and ....... home.
find, driving
find, drove
found, drive
found, drove
Match verb tenses here, so "found" and "drove", both in the past tense, are correct
3.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The crowd ....... the winners as they ....... medals yesterday.
cheered, receive
cheered, received
cheer, received
cheers, receive
"Cheered" and "received" are in the past tense; it happened yesterday
4.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The competition ....... yesterday; it ....... for ten days.
finished, lasted
finished, lasts
finishes, lasts
finish, last
The past tense is used here because the event happened yesterday
5.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
Each competitor ....... to ....... the record he ....... last year.
is trying, break, set
is trying, broke, sat
tried, break, sat
tried, broke, sat
"Tries" and "is trying" are in the present tense
6.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The spectators ....... the athletes and ....... them for autographs.
are congratulating, asked
congratulate, asked
congratulated, ask
congratulated, asked
Match both verb tenses so this sentence uses "congratulated" and "asked"
7.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The athletes ....... autographs and ....... them to people.
signed, gave
signed, give
sign, gave
sign, giving
This sentence requires both verbs to be in the past tense, so uses "signed" and "gave"
8.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The runners ....... round the track now; the crowd .......
ran, cheered
run, cheers
running, cheered
running, cheers
Today the crowd "cheers"; yesterday it "cheered"
9.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The athletes ....... fast; they each ....... to ....... the record.
ran, hoped, break
ran, hoped, broke
run, hope, broke
running, hoped, break
Today they "run", but yesterday they "ran", which is past tense. "To break" is an infinitive, so this verb is neither past nor present here
10.
Choose the correct tense to fill the gaps in the following sentence.
The winners ....... on a podium and ....... their medals.
stand, receive
stand, received
stood, receive
stood, receiving
A "podium" is a platform. "Stand" and "receive" are in the present tense

 

Author:  Sue Daish

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