The Copious Configurations of the Future Tense

headless_horseman_by_adamguzowski-d30oq2oWelcome, dear readers, to the fourth and final installment of my posts about verb tenses. I know I’ve been slacking off lately, but things have been a bit hectic, what with setting up Grammar Ghoul Press and dealing with a variety of other real world commitments. Continue reading

Sublime Specimens of the Past Tense

me_wants_your_heart_by_xsusanstohelitx-d688xwvWelcome, dear readers, to the next installment of my verb tenses posts. Last time, we looked at the present tense. Today, we’re going to look at the past tense and its different forms.

But first, I want to tell you a bit more about my ultra-secret project, which will launch on October 1st. Continue reading

The Scary World of Verb Tenses

dalek_by_ilmarinenn-d2y51xmGoodness, I’ve been a bad blogger lately! Between a mountain of work, and getting my son ready to go back to school, I’ve barely had time to sleep, let alone blog. But I’m here now. So let’s jump right into the deep end and tackle English verb tenses!

Wait! Don’t hit the back button! I promise to be gentle.

If you’ve ever googled English verb tenses, you know how crazy the results are. I bet you quickly closed your browser and walked away from your computer. Heck, maybe you even ran screaming from the room.

Well, despite what the Internet might try to tell you, verb tenses aren’t so scary. First of all, they exist for a reason. Most importantly, they tell us when something happens (or happened, or will happen). And there are only three options: the present, the past, or the future.

  • Present: He invokes.
  • Past: He invoked.
  • Future: He will invoke.

Makes sense, right?

Okay, so where people get tripped up is when we start talking about forms. The forms above are known as Simple. In addition, there is also Perfect, Progressive (or Continuous), and Perfect Progressive (or Perfect Continuous).

But why?

Well, the different forms tell us more about the timing of something AND they also tell us if something is (or was, or will be) ongoing or complete. In the charts below, I walk you through each of the three tenses and their four different forms.

Present Tense:

Simple present: I exterminate. This is happening now.
Present progressive: I am exterminating. This ongoing thing is in the process of happening.
Present perfect: I have exterminated. This started in the past and continued to happen until now.
Present perfect progressive: I have been exterminating. This ongoing thing started in the past, continues to the present, and may continue to happen in the future.

Past Tense:

Simple past: I exterminated. This happened in the past and is complete.
Past progressive: I was exterminating. This ongoing thing happened in the past over a period of time.
Past perfect: I had exterminated. This happened in the past before something else that also happened in the past.
Past perfect progressive: I had been exterminating. This ongoing thing happened in the past and is complete.

Future Tense:

Simple future: I will exterminate. This will happen in the future.
Future progressive: I will be exterminating. This ongoing thing will start to happen in the future and continue for some time.
Future perfect: I will have exterminated. This will happen in the future and will be finished by a specific time, also in the future.
Future perfect progressive: I will have been exterminating. This ongoing thing will happen in the future and will be finished by a specific time, also in the future.

If you made it this far, pat yourself on the back (and let me know in the comments)! Next time, I’ll break down the present tense and its forms in more detail. Then I’ll do the same for past and future.

In the meantime, I encourage you to read through the examples above and ask questions, if you have any.

Linking up with the moonshine grid over at yeah write.
It’s the place to be!


Image credit: Ilmarinenn @ deviantART

Verb Conjugation and Other Torture

Shrunken HeadGood morning, dear readers! Today, we’re going to dive into the wonderful world of verb conjugation. Now, now, please try to contain your excitement.

So what exactly is verb conjugation? Well, it’s what happens when we change a verb’s form to match the properties of voice, mood, tense, person, and number (which you may remember learning about in my earlier post on verbs). Right, so what does that mean?

First, let’s do a quick review of those five properties. Voice tells us who is performing the action and/or who is receiving it (active vs. passive). Mood tells us if something is being expressed as a fact (indicative), a command (imperative), or something hypothetical (subjunctive). Tense tells us whether the action occurred in the present, past, or future. Person tells us who is acting. Number tells us whether the verb is singular or plural.

When we conjugate a verb, all of these properties may be reflected in the results. And most verbs, except auxiliary verbs, will take one of the following five forms: 1) Infinitive, 2) Simple Present, 3) Simple Past, 4) Present Participle, 5) Past Participle.

Okay, so let’s look at some examples using the verbs terrify, curdle, and shrink.

Infinitive terrify curdle shrink
Simple Present terrify (terrifies) curdle (curdles) shrinks
Simple Past terrified curdled shrank
Present Participle terrifying curdling shrinking
Past Participle terrified curdled shrunk

She terrifies small children.
Voice: active (she is performing the action)
Mood: indicative (it is a fact that she does this)
Tense: present (simple)
Person: third person singular (indicated by the “s” at the end of the verb)
Number: singular (because person in singular)

We are curdling blood.
Voice: active (we are performing the action)
Mood: indicative (it is a fact that we are doing this)
Tense: present (continuous, because it’s happening right now)
Person: third person plural (indicated by the pronoun “we” and the auxiliary “are”)
Number: plural (because person in plural)

You will shrink 13 heads today!
Voice: active (you will perform the action)
Mood: imperative (it is a command)
Tense: future (simple)
Person: second person (indicated by the pronoun “you”)
Number: singular (because person in singular)

If only they had been terrifying the villagers last night.
Voice: active (they should have been performing the action)
Mood: subjunctive (this is expressing a hypothetical desire)
Tense: past (perfect continuous, because it would have been a continued action)
Person: third person plural (indicated by the pronoun “they”)
Number: plural (because person is plural)

And there you have it. Conjugating verbs in a nutshell.

If you would like to learn more, check out the following resources:


Image credit:  uruslav / deviantART

Verdant Venerable Verbs: Part Two


Verdant Venerable Verbs: Part Two

Welcome to the second part of Verdant Venerable Verbs! I know I hurt some brains with the first part, so I will try to be more gentle with part two.

Today we’re going to look at the five properties of verbs, which are: Voice, mood, tense, person and number.

Voice only applies to transitive verbs and it is either active or passive. Active voice demonstrates that the subject is the one performing the action, whereas passive voice indicates that the subject is receiving the verb’s action. Compare the following examples:

  • The zombie ate some brains.
  • The brain was eaten by the zombie.

Passive voice is always formed by adding a form of be (or get in informal use) with the past-participle form of the verb.

Side note: Active voice is typically the preferred voice in writing. In fact, most word processing software will flag any use of passive voice. This doesn’t mean you’re wrong; it all depends on which point of view you are trying to represent.

There are three moods for verbs. The first is indicative, which is the most common. We use indicative mood to ask questions or to express opinions and facts. Here are some examples:

  • Zombies smell really bad.
  • Does that vampire have red hair?

The second mood is imperative, which we use for commands, requests and permission. The subject of the verb is you, but it is generally implied rather than stated. For example:

  • Get thee behind me!

The third mood is subjunctive, which is the least common. We use the subjunctive mood to express mental conceptions that are hypothetical, imagined, desired, etc. It is often signaled by if. Here are some examples:

  • If I were you, I’d practice using that stake.
  • If only we lived in a world without zombies.

Verb tense indicates the time that an act, state, or condition happens or happened. In English, tense is divided into three major sections: present, past and future. (Each of these also includes a perfect tense, which refers to a comparatively more remote time, but we won’t look at those today.)

Present tense, unsurprisingly, usually indicates something that happens in the present. However, it can also indicate habitual actions, general truths and timeless facts. It is formed by using the verb’s stem (also called the infinitive, as we learned in Part One).

  • I chop off zombies’ heads with a machete.
  • Vampires hunt at night.

Past tense indicates something that happened in the past. It is typically formed by adding –ed or –d (for regular verbs — see Part One for information on irregular verbs).

  • Buffy staked many vampires in Sunnydale.
  • I slapped the impertinent human.

Future tense indicates something that is expected to happen in the future. It is typically formed by adding will or shall to the verb stem.

  • If Hector turns into a zombie I will cut off his head.
  • You shall obey me.

Verb person indicates who is acting. There are three options in English: first person (I or we), second person (you) or third person (he, she, it or they). Here are examples of each:

  • I staked the vampire.
  • You decapitated the zombie
  • They quaked in fear.

The last property is number. A verb will be either singular or plural and it must agree with its pronoun. Check out the following example:

  • I was relieved it was over.
  • They were relieved it was over.

Okay, you can exhale. We’re finished with verbs for now! Once you’ve all had some time to recover — perhaps in a couple of months — we’ll look at conjugating verbs. For now, pat yourself on the back if you read this entire post and remember than mental gymnastics are really good for your brain, even if it hurts!


Image credit:  Freepik