176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review

This episode is all about grammar, specifically verb tenses such as: present simple, present continuous, present perfect simple, present perfect continuous, past perfect, past perfect continuous and different future forms. Part of this episode is transcribed, and part of it is spontaneous.

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I’m going to go through lots of verb tenses in English. I’ll demonstrate them first, and then go through them with you, explaining their form, use and pronunciation.

It’s been a while since I did an episode on grammar, and so I thought I’d give you a really thorough look at different verb tenses. It’s a bit ambitious to try and cover lots of tenses in one episode, but I’ll try and keep it brief and practical.

This could be a really useful episode, which you could listen to again and again, in order to get the full value.

I don’t normally do many episodes on grammar, because let’s be honest, it’s pretty boring. Unless you’re a grammar geek, it can be pretty mind numbing stuff. In one ear and out the other. The trouble is, that in explaining the basics of grammar you end up using all kinds of complex and abstract language, which makes the whole thing more complex than it really is. For example, if you can’t use the present simple tense correctly, then you’re hardly able to understand the rules that underpin that tense.

We don’t learn a language by learning the rules first and then applying them. Instead we learn by trying to communicate a message in that language. In doing that we learn the limitations and possibilities. But, it does help to get an insight into the structures at work because you can identify areas where you’re making mistakes, or particular tenses that you’re not using.

So listen carefully while I’m talking here and try to notice the different tenses. That’s your task. Notice the different tenses I use, as I’m using them. Like, oh that’s present perfect, or that’s a 1st conditional structure, or that’s the future perfect continuous passive there, I love that one. Etc.

Then I’ll go through it all and explain it at the end. You can read this on my website.

So, let’s start. Listen closely as I tell you a few things about myself. Notice the tenses, and I’ll explain them afterwards. Eventually, the plan is for you to perhaps practise this by talking about yourself in a similar way, using the tenses as I do. Then you’ll be speaking more like a native. Some of this is written down, and some of it is improvised.

OK, it’s grammar time!

Spot the Tenses
m5e8dHello. I’m Luke. I’m from London, but at the moment I’m living in Paris. I’ve been living here for just over a year. It’s great. I’m really enjoying it. You know that originally I’m from England. I was born in a town just outside London, and then I lived in West London for a long time. My Dad was promoted and got a job in the midlands, so we moved there, and stayed for many years. I went to university in Liverpool and lived there for 4 years, and then I moved back to Warwickshire. That’s when I decided to become an English teacher. I’d finished uni and I was working in a pub, not really going anywhere. As well as studying at university and college, I’d also been playing in lots of bands over the past few years, but it hadn’t really worked out, so I needed to think of something to do. I ended up deciding to become a TEFL teacher in 2001 and then I went to Japan and lived there for 2 years. That was an awesome time. had loads of really cool experiences and met loads of people, but I didn’t want to get stuck there, and I was keen to get back to my home country. I moved back to London and I worked there for a long time. It was while I was living in London that I came up with the idea to launch an amazing podcast for learners of English, that would save the world from the forces of evil. That’s when I created the now legendary Luke’s English Podcast, and a new cult of language learners was created. Who knows, maybe the LEPPERS will one day rise up and, just speak really fluently, and then give everyone free ice-cream sandwiches. It’s just a dream maybe, but who knows, it might just happen.

I moved to Paris in 2012. Living in Paris is pretty cool. It used to be quite difficult, because I couldn’t speak the language but I’m getting used to it now. When I first came here, I’d never visited Paris before, but my girlfriend had told me a lot about it, so I was kind of prepared. I’d also been to France quite a lot as a child on holiday. But when I first arrived it was quite hard because I didn’t speak much French. I took some French lessons at school when I was a kid but I don’t remember learning much. In fact most of the time those French lessons were a bit of a doss. So, when I first arrived I couldn’t really communicate, which was not very helpful. It was usually okay because I could get by, but I remember once I was walking down the street and this guy came up to me and started talking, but I couldn’t understand him, and he got angrier and angrier and started following me down the street. It was a bit scary and weird, and I wish I could have understood him and told him to piss off or whatever.

These days things are much easier, and Paris is an amazing place to live in. I’ve seen and done quite a lot of stuff here.

things I’ve done

– I’ve been up the Eiffel Tower. I’ve visited Notre Dame. I’ve been to Shakespeare and Company. I’ve tried lots of delicious French wine.

Things I’ve been doing

– I’ve been doing lots of comedy. I’ve been doing lots of gigs.

– I’ve been working at the university.

– I’ve been recording episodes of the podcast

-learning french

Today I’ve drunk a bit too much coffee so I’m pretty hyperactive. Normally I drink tea, but more recently I’ve been drinking coffee. I’ve had about 9,000 cups already today.

Work

– At the moment I’m working at the university

– I teach English, but I’m teaching at a university at the moment.

The future

– Hopefully it’ll last. Hopefully they’ll take me on again.

– I wonder what’s going to happen in the future.

going to / present continuous

– We’re going to visit New York next month

– I might do a special report from New York

– We’re going to stay in an AirBnB apartment that we’ve found

– We’re planning the trip at the moment.

– We’re flying there in the middle of April. It’s going to be good.

Will

– England will probably win.

– We probably won’t win. I imagine it will be someone like Spain or Brazil.

– It’s going to be a challenge.

– We probably won’t get to the final, but if we do it’ll be amazing.

5 years from now

– Who knows what I’ll be doing

– Hopefully I’ll still be recording episodes of LEP

– I might have had kids by then.

– I’ll probably have children. That’ll be…

– Hopefully, I will have done many more episodes of LEP and perhaps I will have expanded my work online in some way.

10 years from now

– If I’m still doing Luke’s English Podcast , I will have been doing LEP for 15 years.

– I will have been being listened to for 10 years (!!!)

The Tenses

Present simple
– I teach English, but I’m teaching at a university at the moment.

Present continuous
– I’m from London, but at the moment I’m living in Paris.
– At the moment I’m working at the university
– I teach English, but I’m teaching at a university at the moment.

Past simple
– (for) I lived in West London for a long time.
– (sequence of finished actions) My Dad was promoted and got a job in the midlands, so we moved there, and stayed for many years. I went to university in Liverpool and lived there for 4 years, and then I moved back to Warwickshire.

Past continuous
– I’d finished uni and I was working in a pub, not really going anywhere.
– It was while I was living in London that I came up with the idea to launch an amazing podcast for learners of English
– I was walking down the street and this guy came up to me and started talking, but I couldn’t understand him

Used to do vs. Get used to doing
– It used to be quite difficult, because I couldn’t speak the language but I’m getting used to it now.

Present perfect
– I’ve been up the Eiffel Tower. I’ve visited Notre Dame. I’ve been to Shakespeare and Company. I’ve tried lots of delicious French wine.
– Today I’ve drunk a bit too much coffee so I’m pretty hyperactive. Normally I drink tea, but more recently I’ve been drinking coffee. I’ve had about 9,000 cups already today.

Present perfect continuous
– I’ve been doing lots of comedy. I’ve been doing lots of gigs.
– I’ve been working at the university.
– I’ve been recording episodes of the podcast
– I’ve been living here for just over a year.

Past perfect
– That’s when I decided to become an English teacher. I’d finished uni and I was working in a pub, not really going anywhere.
– When I first came here, I’d never visited Paris before, but my girlfriend had told me a lot about it, so I was kind of prepared.

Past perfect continuous
As well as studying at university and college, I’d also been playing in lots of bands over the past few years, but it hadn’t really worked out, so I needed to think of something to do.

Modals to talk about the past
– I wish I could have understood him and told him to piss off or whatever

Going to / present continuous
– We’re going to visit New York next month
– I might do a special report from New York
– We’re going to stay in an AirBnB apartment that we’ve found
– We’re planning the trip at the moment.
– We’re flying there in the middle of April. It’s going to be good.

Future with will (not plans, but judgements, opinions, predictions)
– Who knows, maybe the LEPPERS will one day rise up.
– Hopefully it’ll last. Hopefully they’ll take me on again.
– England will probably win.
– We probably won’t win. I imagine it will be someone like Spain or Brazil.

1st Conditional
– We probably won’t get to the final, but if we do it’ll be amazing.

Future continuous
– Who knows what I’ll be doing
– Hopefully I’ll still be recording episodes of LEP

Future perfect
– Hopefully, I will have done many more episodes of LEP and perhaps I will have expanded my work online in some way.

Future perfect continuous (in a 1st Conditional structure, no less!)
– If I’m still doing Luke’s English Podcast , I will have been doing LEP for 15 years.

Future perfect continuous passive!
– I will have been being listened to for 10 years (!!!)

Modals for the future
– it might just happen.

Test Yourself

Complete the gaps in this text. Scroll up to see the answers.

Hello. I’m Luke. I’m from London, but at the moment I _______________________ (live) in Paris. I _______________________ (live) here for just over a year. It’s great. I’m really enjoying it. You know that originally I’m from England. I _______________________ (born) in a town just outside London, and then I _______________________ (live)  in West London for a long time. My Dad _______________________ (promote) and got a job in the midlands, so we _______________________ (move) there, and _______________________ (stay) for many years. I _______________________ (go) to university in Liverpool and _______________________ (live) there for 4 years, and then I _______________________ (move) back to Warwickshire. That’s when I _______________________ (decide) to become an English teacher. I _______________________ (finish) uni and I (work) in a pub, not really going anywhere. As well as studying at university and college, I _______________________ (also play) in lots of bands over the past few years, but it hadn’t really worked out, so I _______________________ (need) to think of something to do. I _______________________ (end up) deciding to become a TEFL teacher in 2001 and then I _______________________ (go) to Japan and _______________________ (live) there for 2 years. That was an awesome time. I _______________________ (have) loads of really cool experiences and _______________________ (meet) loads of people, but I _______________________ (not want) to get stuck there, and I was keen to get back to my home country. I _______________________ (move) back to London and I _______________________ (work) there for a long time. It was while I _______________________ (live) in London that I _______________________ (come up with) the idea to launch an amazing podcast for learners of English, that would save the world from the forces of evil. That’s when I _______________________ (create) the now legendary Luke’s English Podcast, and a new cult of language learners was created. Who knows, maybe the LEPSTERS _______________________ (rise up one day) and, just speak really fluently, and then give everyone free ice-cream sandwiches. It’s just a dream maybe, but who knows, it might just happen.

I moved to Paris in 2012. Living in Paris is pretty cool. It _______________________ (be) quite difficult, because I couldn’t speak the language but I _______________________ (get used to) it now. When I first came here, I _______________________ (never visit) Paris before, but my girlfriend _______________________ (tell) me a lot about it, so I was kind of prepared. I _______________________ (also go) to France quite a lot as a child on holiday. But when I first _______________________ (arrive) it was quite hard because I _______________________ (not speak) much French. I _______________________ (take) some French lessons at school when I was a kid but I don’t remember learning much. In fact most of the time those French lessons were a bit of a doss. So, when I first arrived I couldn’t really communicate, which was not very helpful. It was usually okay because I could get by, but I remember once I _______________________ (walk) down the street and this guy _______________________ (come) up to me and _______________________ (start) talking, but I couldn’t understand him, and he _______________________ (get) angrier and angrier and _______________________ (start) following me down the street. It was a bit scary and weird, and I wish I could have understood him and told him to piss off or whatever.

These days things are much easier, and Paris is an amazing place to live in. I _______________________ (see and do) quite a lot of stuff here. I _______________________(go )up the Eiffel Tower. I _______________________ (visit) Notre Dame. I _______________________(go) to Shakespeare and Company the bookshop. I _______________________ (try) lots of delicious French wine. It’s great.

Check the top of the page for the answers.

 

  • Benyamin Jilmani

    Day 4 of 15: again grammars are not easy to study but you made them fun. Thanks and I hope to be able to use them right.

  • Ксения Андре

    Hello Luke! What an enjoyable episode! I can listen to this for hours just for pleasure. That’s incredible! English grammar rules which I am thoroughly familiar with (I’m an English teacher) and I find myself listening for the purpose of sheer pleasure. That’s your way of doing it, the presentation and the humour, of course. I wish i could present the material this way! Delightful!

    • Thanks! I think the fun of grammar comes when you present examples of the language in use.

  • Agnes

    Luke, this kind of lesson makes me happy. It’s such a difficulty to explain in human way the difficulty of English grammar. In writing is ok, you can make an error correction as you know grammar rules, but in speaking is more difficult to define a tense during the conversation. You explained it and I got it, I picked up some new explanations, and that is great. This lesson doesn’t make me bored, I really love discovering and finding new things in English. I agree, it’s difficult to get out of intermediate level and to go upper. But it’s easier with you:-)

  • Kelvin Baumhardt Biffi

    Hey Luke I’m Kelvin,

    Good morning, I talk from Brazil, here is morning now.

    In my last English Class, I presented your podcast to my classmates and to my teacher, now we are studying about the past, I took the gap for to present you for they. I hope that they like the podcast like me.

    Hugs.

  • Pingback: Pronunciation: Verb Tenses & Connected Speech | I am an English Aficionado()

  • Tatjana

    You are absolutely great!!! Thank you very much for all!!! I am not fed up with a phrasal verbs. Moreover I have been expecting more:):)… Your explanations are shrewd and funny!:) . Definitely you made my day. All the best. Tatjana

  • nice discussion on tense and the usages of verbs in various forms.

  • Luke, thanks a lot for this podcast. I think I can finally say I’ve got the present perfect (it’s a misterious thing to me; it was). I’m a great fan of your job and it seems that I know you for long time when I talk about your job with my family and friends. I hear you all the time. Long live LEP!

  • Luke, you entertain me every day. I love the way you teach – unfortunately I hadn’t and opportunity to be your student, but maybe one day:)
    I’m trying to find a job here in Poland now, but it’s difficult, but your podcast helps me a lot to improve my English, so maybe you will be helpful for me to find the job of my dreams. If not – I will come to UK and work in housekeeping but at least – I will speak English and I’ll be happy :)
    I’ve put your podcast to my Pinterest already: www.pinterest.com/pin/352547477052719730/
    I’ve downloaded a very interesting app on Ipad which may be useful for some students: “UKRadioLive”. There are all of BBC radios in one application – yesterday I was listening BBC even in gaelic! How can they spell it, I’m askin? Jesus:)
    Have a beautiful day,
    Kasia

    • Ah, thanks for this nice message Kasia. I’m glad you enjoy listening to the podcast. Thanks for adding me to your Pinterest page.
      Yes, it’s great to be able to listen to live radio from the BBC. There are a few apps available for iPhones or Android phones, and on the BBC website you can listen to all their radio stations – and there are loads! There are the national ones, but also the local ones too, including ones in Gaelic and Welsh! For an English speaker, Welsh is completely incomprehensible! I used to live in a house with a Welsh girl and she used to chat on the phone to her family a lot, in Welsh. It was fascinating to listen to (although not rude, because I couldn’t understand it!)

  • Thank you for the great lesson. I really expect a related lesson about pronunciation!

    • It’s coming!
      Btw, are you the Joonho Kim who was in one of my classes at LSE and who loves eating Nando’s? Or another Joonho Kim?