Construction of a grammatically correct sentence requires the knowledge of tenses. However, in general, students consider tenses to be the most difficult area in English grammar. It is partly so because of their inability to identify the tense structures. Moreover, the lack of understanding of where and how different forms of tenses have to be used creates problems.
To help out candidates seeking guidance from the Centre for IBPS Coaching in Delhi, Vidya Guru Institute has provided over here a ready reckoner on how tenses are used.
Tenses are important in grammar because they tell us about the time of the action. Besides that, they also indicate the state of the action i.e. whether the action is complete or in progress. The three basic types of tenses are: Present, Past & Future. Each of these is further divided into 4 forms. Thus, a total of twelve forms of tenses are there. The detailed usage of these forms is as follows:
(I) PRESENT TENSE:
- Universal Truths: The sun rises in the east (‘Rise/s’ is V1)
- General Truths & Common Understandings: Vitamins are essential to keep our body healthy (‘Are’ is V1)
- Feelings & Emotions: I like chocolates (‘Like/s’ is V1)
- Repetitive & Habitual Actions: Ram goes to school daily. (‘Go/es’ is V1)
- Future actions governed by a schedule or timetable: The school reopens after Christmas holidays. (‘Reopen/s’ is V1)
(B) Present Continuous (Basic Structure: Is / Am / Are + V1 + ing)
- Actions which are in progress in present time: The Indian economy is growing at a rapid pace.
- Actions which are in progress in the vicinity of present time: Nowadays, a lot of students are preparing for Govt. job entrance exams. (The action may not be in progress at the time of speaking, yet it is in continuation somewhere in the vicinity of present time)
- Personal plans of near future: I am meeting my friends in the evening.
- A recurrent action, when it becomes problematic and irritating: He is always hitting me without any reason.
(C) Present Perfect (Basic Structure: Has / Have + V3)
- Past completed actions, when the time of the action is not relevant: Alice has done her homework.
- Recently completed actions (quite often with ‘just’): The policemen have just arrested
(D) Present Perfect Continuous (Basic Structure: Has / Have + Been + V1 + ing)
- An action that started in the past and continues in the present (quite often with ‘since’ & ‘for’ phrases):
(i) I have been waiting here for over an hour (‘for’ shows the duration of the action)
(ii) It has been raining heavily since afternoon (‘since’ shows the start point of the action)
(II) PAST TENSE:
- Past completed actions, along with an adverb of past time showing the time of the action: Ramesh left for his hometown yesterday. (‘yesterday’ is an adverb of past time)
- Past completed actions, when the time of the action has not been specified: Sardar Patel was our country’s first home minister.
- Recurrent actions in the past: As a kid, I ate apples regularly.
(B) Past Continuous (Basic Structure: Was / Were + V1 + ing)
- An action which was in progress, when another action took place: I was eating a pizza, when Sonia knocked at the door.
- An action which was in progress in the past: All evening, the kids were playing in the garden.
(C) Past Perfect (Basic Structure: Had + V3)
- An action which got completed by/before another past completed action: The thieves had robbed the bank by the time the police arrived.
- An action which got completed by/before a certain point of time in the past: India had become a nuclear power much before the start of this century.
(D) Past Perfect Continuous (Basic Structure: Had + Been + V1 + ing)
- An action which started before a certain point of time in the past and continued up to it: Ramesh had been studying continuously until he finally dozed off.
- The cause of something in the past: Sushil was tired because he had been working out in the gymnasium.
(III) FUTURE TENSE:
(A) Simple Future (Basic Structure: Will / Shall + V1)
- Future actions over which we have no control: Our horse will turn old in a couple of years.
- Promises: I will buy you a watch on your next birthday.
- Predictions: India will win the next ICC world cup.
- Instantaneous Decisions (on-the-spot decisions): Ok! I will help you sort out this problem.
(B) Future Continuous (Basic Structure: Will / Shall + Be + V1 + ing)
- An action which will be in progress, in future, in the normal course of things: As per the plan, we will be staying here till Sunday.
- A future action in progress: In the evening, he will be playing the piano.
(C) Future Perfect (Basic Structure: Will / Shall + Have + V3)
- An action which will get completed by/before a certain point of time in the future: They will have painted the fence before the end of this week.
- Duration in the future: By the next month, he will have worked with me for over 5 years.
(D) Future Perfect Continuous (Basic Structure: Will / Shall + Have + Been + V1 + ing)
- An action which will be in progress over a period of time in future before finally coming to an end: The professor will have been teaching for over 25 years by the time we graduate.
- Cause of a future situation: By next week, she will have been travelling for 3 months and will need to take rest.
After memorizing the above mentioned rules, it is suggested that you go through the study material provided by SBI Coaching Classes. This will expose you to the kind of questions which are asked in the exam. Moreover, you will become aware of the deficiencies which may be there in your preparation.
This article will serve as a foundation for candidates who find difficulty in attempting sentence error questions based on tenses. It will surely be of help to anyone aspiring to take a Govt. job exam. However, in case of any doubt or confusion, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org.