Sunday, January 22, 2012

Present Perfect or Past Simple?

Even at advanced level, students whose native language doesn't have an equivalent can have problems with Present Perfect, and how its use differs from that of Past Simple.
Some aspects of Past Simple are better dealt with together with the other narrative tenses. Here I will only deal those areas where it can be confused with Present Perfect.
So I'll be concentrating here mostly on Present Perfect, as this seems to be where most problems lie, and some aspects of it I think are worth drawing attention to. Hopefully, by doing the exercises you will get a better feel for the differences between the two tenses.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Unreal Past

What is Unreal Past?

Unreal Past is the use of past tenses to talk about hypothetical situations. We use Past Simple, and sometimes Past Continuous, to talk about unlikely or unreal situations in the present and future, and Past Perfect for unlikely or unreal situations in the past.
We use Unreal Past in the following:
  • Unreal or hypothetical conditionals - second, third and mixed
  • The constructions I wish ... and If only ...
  • Expressing a preference with I'd rather, I'd sooner, I'd prefer, I'd just as soon
  • Hypothesising with What if, supposing, imagine
  • After as if and as though when we think the situation is unlikely
  • It's time
  • Being tentative - If ... were to
  • Idiom - If it wasn't for / weren't for / hadn't been for
I've already talked about unreal conditionals here, and have gone into some detail on I wish and If only here, so in this post I'm going to be concentrating on the other uses of Unreal Past. But I do look at two expressions sometimes used with unreal conditionals - were to and if it weren't for.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Confusing verbs - come, go, bring, take and get

Polish has two basic verbs for go: iść and jechać. Which you use depends whether you are on foot or on a horse. Or rather whether you would have made the journey on foot or on a horse in the days before mechanised transport.
In English, it is not the method that is so important, but the direction relative to the speaker or the person they are talking to. And it's the same if we are carrying something or are with someone.
I don't think many advanced students really have problems with come and go, but when it comes to bring and take, it seems to be a different matter. Practise using these verbs in their basic sense with these exercises: