- Simple Present
The simple present or present simple is one of the verb forms associated with the present tense in modern English. It is commonly referred to as a tense, although it also encodes certain information about aspect in addition to present time. It is called “simple” because its basic form consists of a single word (like write or writes), in contrast with other present tense forms such as the present progressive (is writing) and present perfect (has written). For nearly all English verbs the simple present is identical to the base form (dictionary form) of the verb, except when the subject is third-person singular, in which case the ending -(e)s is added. There are a few verbs with irregular forms, the most notable being the copula be, which has the simple present forms am, is and are.The principal use of the simple present is to refer to an action or event that takes place habitually, as in He writes for a living (in contrast to the present progressive, which refers to something taking place at the present moment: He is writing a letter now). However certain verbs expressing a state, such as be and know, are used in the simple present even when referring to a temporary present state. There are also certain other uses (including those mentioned in the following paragraph) in which the simple present does not reflect a habitual aspect. Like other English present tense forms, the simple present has certain uses in which it does not refer to present time. It frequently refers to the future, as in “My train leaves tomorrow” and “If we win on Saturday, …”. It can also sometimes refer to past events – as in newspaper headlines, for example.
The present continuous, also called the present progressive, is one of the present tenses used in modern English, the others being the simple present and the emphatic present. All of these can be employed in both the indicative and subjunctive moods. To form the present continuous, one uses the appropriate conjugation of to be from the simple present and puts the present participle of the chosen verb after. For example:
He is playing
When using the interrogative with the present continuous, one does not use the verb to do as with the simple present, rather, one swaps the positions of the conjugation of to be and the present participle. For example:
Am I annoying you? which is to ask whether I am annoying you.
The simple past or past simple, sometimes called the preterite, is the basic form of the past tense in Modern English. It is used principally to describe events in the past, although it also has some other uses. Regular English verbs form the simple past in -ed; however there are a few hundred irregular verbs with different forms.
The term “simple” is used to distinguish the syntactical construction whose basic form uses the plain past tense alone, from other past tense constructions which use auxiliaries in combination with participles, such as the past perfect and past progressive.
The past progressive or past continuous construction combines progressive aspect with past tense, and is formed using the past tense of be (was or were) with the present participle of the main verb. It indicates an action that was ongoing at the past time being considered:
At three o’clock yesterday, I was working in the garden.
While I was washing the dishes, I heard a loud noise.
While you were washing the dishes, Sue was walking the dog.
(Interrupted actions in the past can also sometimes be denoted using the past perfect progressive, as described below.)
The past progressive can also be used to refer to past action that occurred over a range of time and is viewed as an ongoing situation:
I was working in the garden all day yesterday.
That could also be expressed using the simple past, as I worked…, which implies that the action is viewed as a unitary event (although the effective meaning is not very different).
- Subject Verb Agreement
Subject Verb agreement can be tricky for many people. As a matter of fact, one of the common comments teachers write on student essays is, “Watch your subject verb agreement!”
If you’ve ever had a comment like that written on one of your essays or if you’d just like to brush up on your subject verb agreement rules, here some tips that are sure to help.
What is subject verb agreement?
Subject verb agreement refers to the fact that the subject and verb in a sentence must agree in number. In other words, they both must be singular or they both must be plural. You can’t have a singular subject with a plural verb or vice versa. The tricky part is in knowing the singular and plural forms of subjects and verbs.
Singular and plural subjects, or nouns, are usually pretty easy. In most cases the plural form of a noun has an “s” at the end. Like this:
Car – singular
Cars – plural
Verbs don’t follow this pattern, though. Adding an “s” to a verb doesn’t make a plural. Here’s what I mean:
Which one is the singular form and which is the plural form? Here’s a tip for you. Ask yourself which would you use with the word they and which would you use with he or she.
Since he and she are singular pronouns walks is a singular verb. The word they is plural so walk is the plural form.
Here are some more guidelines for subject verb agreement.
- When two singular subjects are joined by the words or or nor a singular verb is in order.
My sister or my brother is meeting you at the airport.
- Two singular subjects joined by either/or or neither/nor also need a singular verb.
Neither Carla nor Jeff is available to meet you at the airport.
Either Angie or Jeff is meeting at the airport.
- When the word and connects two or more nouns or pronouns, use a plural verb.
She and her family are at Disney World.
- When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb.
The athlete or his teammates sprint every day.
His teammates or the athlete sprints every day.
- When a phrase comes between the subject and verb, the verb has to agree with the subject, not with the noun or pronoun in the phrase.
Two of the puppies are whimpering.
The birthday boy, along with his friends, is anxious for the party to stop.
- Since doesn’t is a contraction of does not it should be used with a singular subject.
Mary doesn’t care for pizza.
Don’t is a contraction of do not and requires a plural subject.
They don’t know the way home.
- Each, either, each one, everyone, neither, everybody, anyone, anybody, somebody, nobody, someone, and no one are singular so they need a singular verb.
Each of the girls is qualified for the prize.
Neither knows how the competition will end.
- Sentences that begin with there is or there are have the subject following the verb since there is not a subject. Therefore, the verb must agree with what follows it.
There are many paths to success.
There is one road out of town.
Subject verb agreement doesn’t have to riddle your writing with errors. Simply follow the above rules and you’ll cut through a lot of the confusion that comes with getting your subject and verb to agree.
Examples of Subject-Verb Agreement:
If a compound subject is joined by “or” or “nor,” look at the subject closest to the verb and make the verb agree with that part of the subject.
1) These indefinite pronouns are always singular and should be paired with a singular verb: any, anything, each, either, neither, everyone, everybody, everything, someone, somebody, something, anyone, anybody, no one, nobody, nothing, one.
2) These indefinite pronouns are always plural and should be paired with a plural verb: few, many
3) For some indefinite pronouns (some, all, none) it depends on the item that the pronoun refers to.
4) Notice that some subjects may appear to be plural but are singular because they refer to one thing or a single amount of something (examples: mathematics, mumps, news)
5) Some subjects refer to one thing, but take a plural verbs (examples: scissors, pants)
Examples of correct subject-verb agreement:
1) He runs four miles every day. (singular subject; singular verb)
2) They ride the school bus in the afternoon. (plural subject; plural verb)
3) Few of the children are here today. (plural)
4) Some of the money is missing. (singular-money is singular)
5) None of the marbles have rolled out of the circle. (plural-marbles is plural)
6) One of the nails is sticking out. (one is singular)
7) The scissors are on the table. (plural)
8) Katie or three girls walk to the office. (girls is closer, so verb is plural)
9) Is mumps caused by a virus? (singular)
10) Neither the tray nor the cups were put away. (cups is closer, so verb is plural)
What is a Pronoun?
In grammar, a pronoun is defined as a word or phrase that may be substituted for a noun or noun phrase, which once replaced, is known as the pronoun’s antecedent. How is this possible? In a nutshell, it’s because pronouns can do everything that nouns can do. A pronoun can act as a subject, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, and more.
Without pronouns, we’d have to keep on repeating nouns, and that would make our speech and writing repetitive, not to mention cumbersome. Most pronouns are very short words. Examples include:
As mentioned, pronouns are usually used to replace nouns, however they can also stand in for certain adverbs, adjectives, and other pronouns. Anytime you want to talk about a person, animal, place or thing, you can use pronouns to make your speech or writing flow better.
Types of Pronouns
Pronouns can be divided into numerous categories including:
- Indefinite pronouns – those referring to one or more unspecified objects, beings, or places
- Personal pronouns – those associated with a certain person, thing, or group; all except you have distinct forms that indicate singular or plural number
- Reflexive pronouns – those preceded by the adverb, adjective, pronoun, or noun to which they refer, and ending in –self or –selves
- Demonstrative pronouns – those used to point to something specific within a sentence
- Possessive pronouns – those designating possession or ownership
- Relative pronouns – those which refer to nouns mentioned previously, acting to introduce an adjective (relative) clause
- Interrogative pronouns – those which introduce a question
- Reciprocal pronouns – those expressing mutual actions or relationship; i.e. one another
- Intensive pronouns – those ending in –self or –selves and that serve to emphasize their antecedents
There are a few important rules for using pronouns. As you read through these rules and the examples in the next section, notice how the pronoun rules are followed. Soon you’ll see that pronouns are easy to work with.
- Subject pronouns may be used to begin sentences. For example: We did a great job.
- Subject pronouns may also be used to rename the subject. For example: It was she who decided we should go to Hawaii.
- Indefinite pronouns don’t have antecedents. They are capable of standing on their own. For example: No one likes the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.
- Object pronouns are used as direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions. These include: you, me, him, her, us, them, and it. For example: David talked to her about the mistake.
- Possessive pronouns show ownership. They do not need apostrophes. For example: The cat washed its whiskers.
Examples of Pronouns
In the following examples, the pronouns are italicized.
- We are going on vacation.
- Don’t tell me that you can’t go with us.
- Anybody who says it won’t be fun has no clue what they are talking about.
- These are terribly steep stairs.
- We ran into each other at the mall.
- I’m not sure which is worse: rain or snow.
- It is one of the nicest Italian restaurants in town.
- Richard stared at himself in the mirror.
- The laundry isn’t going to do itself.
- Someone spilled orange juice all over the countertop!