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Video:Learn ESL: What Are the Tenses in English?

with Alex Jimenez

The English language can be tricky especially if you are learning it as a second language. This About.com video will explain the basic tenses for ESL students.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn ESL: What Are the Tenses in English?

Hi, I’m Alex Jimenez, a licensed ESL teacher based in New York City.  I’m here with About.com today to discuss some basic verb tenses in English. For the beginning ESL student, I really recommend learning the following three tenses, because they’re the ones that you’ll be using the most:

  • the present simple tense
  • the present continuous tense
  • the past simple tense

Present Simple Tense

Let’s talk about the present simple tense first.  You would use this tense when talking about things that happen basically all of the time, or are part of a routine or a habit.  For example, I walk in the park on Saturdays.  The dog barks at the cat all day long.   The kids play in the park every weekend.  This verb tense shows that these are things that are happening pretty much all of the time.  That was the present simple tense. 

Present Continuous Tense

The next tense I’d like to discuss in the present continuous tense.  We use this when we’re talking about things that are happening right now at this very moment.  We take the verb and we add the –ing word ending, a also use the helping verb "to be."  For example, I am walking down the street to get some coffee.  The dog is barking because she heard a strange noise.  The kids are playing with Uncle Ted in the back yard.  This verb tense, the present continuous, is used to show what’s happening right now.

Simple Past Tense

And finally, there’s the past simple tense.  We use this tense to describe actions that have already happened and are over.  For example, I walked across the street to visit my friend.  The dog barked all night long.  The kids played basketball for hours.  We use the present simple, the present continuous, and the present past tenses in English all the time.  This is what I recommend for a new ESL student.  As with most languages, English isn’t perfect. 

There are lost of action words or verb that don’t follow all these rules, but you’ll find as you learn more English that most really do.  The present simple tense, the present continuous tense, and the past simple tense are very popular verb tenses in English.  If you are able to master these tenses, you’ll be well on your way to learning English.  For more information about verb tenses, please visit About.com.

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