11 Unique Learning Techniques to Help Your Child Master Tenses in English Grammar

Fri, 15 Jan by Kunal

Tenses in English

What is a Tense?

Tenses are an essential element of English grammar that tells us how an action relates to the flow of time. Tenses help define the time of an action taking place, just as adjectives describe the manner or qualities of an action taking place. For example, tenses or verb tenses are needed to help us tell people what we want, what we did and what our plans are. Without tenses, it is impossible to express ourselves correctly.

The English language has three basic tenses: present, past, and future. The present, past and future tenses have four different forms: simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous. In addition, there are 12 major verb tenses that you need to teach your child to help them build their Basic English grammar concepts.

Basic Tenses in English

  • Present Tense: He speaks

  • Past Tense: He spoke

  • Future Tense: He will speak

Here’s a look at all the twelve tenses in the English language, with examples –

  • Present Tense

    The present tense is used to talk about repeated actions, habits, universal truths, wishes, instructions, and emotions. Here’s a look at the four types of present tense –

    • The Simple Present Tense

      The simple present tense is used to talk about an action or event that is a general truth, give directions, instructions, or talk about timetables and schedules.

      Examples –

      • The bus arrives at 10:00 AM every morning.

      • The sun rises in the east.

      • I am hungry.

      • We have to take the next left turn.

    • The Present Continuous Tense

      The present continuous tense is used to talk about actions or events occurring simultaneously as the speaker speaks the sentence (ongoing verbs). You can also use the present continuous tense to talk about something bothering you.

      Examples –

      • You are learning the tenses.

      • She is driving a car.

      • He is constantly arguing with me.

      • The dog is wagging its tail.

    • The Present Perfect Tense

      The present perfect tense is used to talk about actions or events that happened in the past but have implications or are causing consequences in the present time.

      Examples –

      • He has hurt himself.

      • They have reached the hotel.

      • I have lost my lucky pen.

      • His car broke down on the way here.

    • The Present Perfect Continuous

      The present perfect continuous tense expresses actions and events that began happening in the past and is still happening in the present time.

      Examples –

      • I have been following Jay Z on Twitter for two years now.

      • She has been undergoing treatment for a year.

      • He has been working out at this gym for the last ten days.

      • We have been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year.

  • Past Tense

    The past tense is used to talk about actions or events that have happened in the past.

    • The Simple Past Tense

      The simple past tense is used to talk about actions or events in the past and have now ended.

      Examples –

      • Grandma passed away eight years ago.

      • We graduated in 1993.

      • Marilyn Monroe was a Hollywood star.

      • My family met for Thanksgiving last year.

    • The Past Continuous Tense

      The past continuous tense helps describe events or actions that happened in the past but lasted for some time.

      Examples –

      • She was cooking all evening.

      • We were watching another episode of the Crown while folding the laundry.

      • Germany was fighting the Second World War for six years.

      • The little girl was running when she met with an accident.

    • The Past Perfect Tense

      The past perfect tense is used to talk about events or actions before a specific time or before another action in the past took place.

      Examples –

      • Dinner had already begun when we arrived.

      • By the time she left office, the birthday party had ended.

      • Before the government could act, the pandemic had already spread to various parts of the country.

      • When the authorities came to know, the spies had escaped the country.

    • The Past Perfect Continuous

      We use the past perfect continuous tense to express events or actions that happened in the past and continued to happen until another event, also in the past, occurred.

      Examples –

      • She had been waiting for an hour when she decided to go to the party alone.

      • He had been teaching a class on thermodynamics when he retired.

      • My grandmother had been a famous singer till the time she died.

      • When I finally reached home, he had been unconscious for an hour.

  • Future Tense

    The future tense talks about actions and events that are yet to occur in the future.

    • The Simple Future Tense

      The simple future tense helps describe actions and events that have not yet begun but will begin in the future. This includes predictions and spontaneous decisions.

      Examples –

      • According to the forecast, we will have a nice sunny day tomorrow.

      • We will go trekking next week.

      • I will come to the mall with you.

      • You will travel to a foreign land next year.

    • The Future Continuous Tense

      The future continuous tense talks about actions or events that will be in progress sometime in the future but have not yet begun.

      Examples –

      • When you go to school, I will be going shopping for groceries.

      • A man called Ove will be driving you to the airport.

      • There will be a hot cup of tea waiting for you when you get back home.

      • She will be reading the book after her exams are over.

    • The Future Perfect Tense

      The future perfect tense is used to express an action or event that will be finished at some point in the future.

      Examples –

      • I will have won the national tournament by this time next month.

      • He will have finished his dinner by 8 p.m.

      • She will have completed her doctorate by April next year.

      • They will have reached home by the time you finish planning the surprise.

    • The Future Perfect Continuous

      The future perfect continuous talks about actions or events that will already have lasted for some time at some point of time in the future.

      Examples –

      • Two years from now, we will have been married for a decade.

      • At six p.m., she will have been missing for a total of twenty-four hours.

      • On the tenth of next month, you will have been the longest-serving president of our country.

      • Next semester our university will have been running the exchange program for two years.

How to Help Your Child Learn Tenses?

When children learn tenses for the first time, it can be confusing and even an intimidating concept. But with patience and a guiding hand, you can easily teach tenses to kids. In this article, we will discuss various learning techniques that parents and children can do for teaching tenses and can also be helpful for students in a self-study environment. Here are a few learning techniques for you to try

  • Flashcards

    When it comes to learning complicated concepts in any subject, flashcards are a learning technique that many students swear by. Make flashcards for the uses of each tense or the sentence structure in each tense. Then, use these flashcards to help your child practice every day.

  • Help them Create Sentences

    Pick a tense of the day and practice creating sentences only for that one tense in that day. Thinking of more and more examples of the same tense will help your child understand the context of each form of the three main tenses. In addition, the sentences they make will help them relate the tenses to their day-to-day life.

  • Watch English Movies and TV Series Together

    Watching English movies and TV series helps children understand the tenses in context. Listening to a tense being used in context helps children relate to the reason for using a particular tense – this prompts them to use the tense in their daily language.

  • Develop a Reading Habit

    Reading together with your children is a healthy habit, and it helps your child get interested in reading books. Reading regularly is the best exercise to learn the nuances of a language. Children who read every day subconsciously train their minds to recognize the tenses used and use them in spoken language.

  • Online Exercises and Tests

    There are numerous exercises, games, and tests available online for children to gain mastery over various concepts. Similarly, for tenses, there are many online games and quizzes available online.

  • Storytelling

    Have your kids study a picture and come up with a story about the people or things in the picture. As they piece together a story from their imagination, they will create numerous sentences using the rules of tenses. This is an excellent exercise for sentence structure.

  • Use Sticky Notes

    On a white or blackboard, make a table with all the tenses and their properties for your child to see. Then, write down different forms of verbs on sticky notes and ask your child to place the verbs in the correct tense’s row or column.

  • Timelines

    Make timelines of different events or stories that your child knows well and use sentences from different tenses to put them in context. Putting tenses in context is the best way to help your child understand the concept with clarity.

  • Colouring a Tenses Chart

    Colour-code the different tenses and give your child a chart with different verbs written in circles or boxes. Ask your child to colour all the verbs in the present tense in blue, past tense in red and so on. This will help your child relate verbs with the correct tense.

  • Play Charades

    A game of charades is an excellent way for children to practice the present continuous tense. Give children different verbs to act on, such as making a bed, cooking a meal, or eating a biscuit. Ask the other children to identify the activity and frame their answer in the form of a present continuous tense sentence.

  • Storyboard Game

    Think of a story and make a sequence of pictures to depict the story. Ask your children to guess what the story is and tell you the correct sequence of pictures. They can only do so by telling you what happened before or after. This will help your children think of new sentences with the correct tenses.

Getting conceptual clarity in tenses is a fundamental step in learning English grammar. Get creative with innovative learning techniques to help your little one get mastery over these tricky concepts. What fun games and activities do you do with your children to help them learn? Tell us all about it; talk to us today!




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