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- Summary of tenses
- Affirmative, negative and interrogative forms
  - Special case: have got
- Base form
- Infinitive, gerund and participle
- Irregular verbs
- More advanced information
- Notes for Spanish speakers

Level: Level: Basic

English Tenses: a summary

1-    V I live in Salamanca / He lives in Salamanca (present simple)  General sense: always, often, never...
2-    BE + V-ing I am living in Salamanca (present continuous)  Now, at this moment

1-    V-ed I lived in Madrid (simple past)  Past and finished action (100% past)
2-    Have + V-ed I have lived in Salamanca for 2 years  (present perfect)  Action connecting the past and the present


1-   BE + GOING TO + V I am going to study Italian (I'm going to...)   More objective: simply future (this is the most common form to talk about future)
2-   Will + V I will study Italian (I'll study...)    More personal: often adds an idea of volition (= I want): decision, promise, determination...


1-    WOULD + V I would like to read that book (I'd like...)   Used to express a condition or also as a more polite form

1-    V (no subject) Sit down / Open the door / Listen!   Used to give orders, instructions or requests

1-    to + V To live: I want to live in Rome (infinitive with TO)
2-    V Live: I can live in New York (infinitive without TO)
3-    V-ing Living: I like living in Salamanca (ING infinitive)



Special verbs used to build tenses: to be, have, do, will, would
DO is used with normal verbs to make questions and negatives in the present (DOES for He/She/It) and DID in the simple past (special verbs never need DO).

Note: special verbs are auxiliaries and modals (to be, do, have, can, will, may, must...); normal verbs are all the rest.

I like it / I don't like it / Do you like it?
He likes it / He doesn't like it / Does he like it?  (he/she/it add an -S, but only once: he doesn't likes it)

I liked it / I didn't like it /Did you like it?  (the past is only marked once: I didn't liked it)
I've loved you / I haven't loved you / Have you loved me?

I'm going to live in Madrid / I'm not going to live in Madrid / Are you going to live in Madrid?
     colloquial variation: GONNA: I'm gonna live in Madrid / also:  I gonna live in Madrid, etc
I'll live in Rome / I won't live in Rome (will not= won't) / Will you live in Rome?

I'd like a beer / I wouldn't like a beer / would you like a beer?

Sit down / Don't sit down / Will you sit down?

This is a present tense (I've got = I have), but grammatically, it behaves just as a present perfect tense:
    I've got a book (= I have got) / I haven't got a book / have you got a book?
    He's got a book (= he has got) / he hasn't got a book / has he got a book?
    I've got a book = I have a book
    I haven't got a book = I don't have a book
    Have you got a book? - Yes, I have = Do you have a book? - Yes, I do
    He's got a book = He has a book, etc.
Note: HAVE is more formal, used in written English. HAVE GOT is more informal, used in spoken English. Americans usually say GOT (= Have got):
    I got a book = I've got a book = I have a book



The base form of a verb is the root, the part that does not change. We form all English tenses putting something or nothing before and/or after the base form:
1- using the base form
   I live in Spain / Sit down please
2- adding an ending after the base form:
   He works in Russia / We worked in India
3- putting an auxiliary verb before the base form:
   She will have a baby / I would like a pizza, please / Do you like it?
4- mixing forms 2 and 3
   I have worked in Barcelona / We are studying chemistry


These three forms (infinitive, gerund, participle) are vebs acting as a noun or adjective or adverb.

    Infinitive: To V / V / V-ing
Our choice of one form or another depends on the verb we use before the infinitive:
a- Special verbs (do, have, will, can, may, etc.) are followed by infinitive without to:
    - I will go to Salamanca / You can speak English
b- Normal verbs (all the rest) and "let", "make" and optionally "help", are followed by infinitive with to:
    - He wants to speak Russian
c- Verbs expressing likes and dislikes (and some others) are usually followed by the ING form, though they can also use To V.
    - You like playing tennis (but also You like to play tennis)
d- When a verb is the subject of a sentence, we use the ING form
    - Peter is tall / Dancing is fun / Smoking cigarettes is bad for you
e- After prepositions and conjunctions we always use the ING form
    - You can have fun without spending money
    - My computer is broken, but I'll try to repair it before buying a new one.

    Gerund: V-ING
We use TO BE + the ING form to build continous tenses (also called "progressive tenses")
    - I am dancing / She is studying / You were talking to her / He will be visiting some friends

    Participle: V-ed
The past participle is formed by adding -ED to the base form of the verb (exactly the same as the simple past tense)
WORK (base form) - WORKED (past) - WORKED (past participle)
    I live in Oxford (base form) / I lived in Oxford last year (past) / I have lived here for 5 years (past participle)
We use the past participle to form the present perfect, past perfect and passive voice:
    I have lived in London (present perfect)/ I had lived in Oxford before (past perfect)/ She was loved by everyone (passive voice)


Regular verbs in English form the simple past and the past participle by adding the ending -ED to the base form of the verb. But some verbs are irregular and they use different forms for the past and past participle. Examples:

regular love loved loved I love you / She loved me / I have loved you
irregular write wrote written I write books / She wrote a book / I have written a book

Remember that the past is only marked once in the sentence:
regular I loved you / Did you love me?   ////   irregular I wrote a book / I didn't write it / Did you write a book?


For more detailed information about English tenses check these other sections:

Basic Sentence Structure: normal vs special verbs
Talking about the Future
Talking about the Future: other forms
Present Perfect vs Simple Past
Present Perfect: uses
Present Perfect Continuous
Passive Voice
Passive Voice: special cases
Conditional Sentences
Verb + Verb patters
Reported Speech


Notes for Spanish speakers

PRESENT PERFECT (Pretérito perfecto)
En español este tiempo se usa poco porque preferimos otras formas:
    I have passed my exam = he aprobado el examen
    I have lived in Oxford for two years = llevo dos años viviendo en Oxford
    I have worked here since 1995= trabajo aquí desde 1995

La voz pasiva se forma igual que en español (ser + participio pasado):
    - Los pacientes son operados en esta sala = Patients are operated in this room
Pero en español casi nunca usamos la voz pasiva, preferimos otras formas de decirlo:
    - La iglesia ha sido restaurada= Han restaurado la iglesia / se ha restaurado la iglesia
    - Mi prima ha sido besada= Han besado a mi prima / A mi prima la han besado

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