Writer's Choice Grade 10
Verb Tenses, and Voice
When you write and speak, you must use verbs in the correct tense. The verbs tense tells the reader when the action happened.
There are four principal parts of verbs: the base form (talk), the present participle form (auxiliary verb + talking), the past form (talked), and the past participle form (auxiliary verb + talked). For regular verbs, you form the past and past participle by adding -ed to the base form, but you must memorize the irregular forms since they are unpredictable.
The principal parts are used to form six different tenses:
- Present tense expresses an action or condition that exists right now or that is constant or habitual.
- Past tense expresses an action or condition that began and ended before this moment.
- Future tense expresses an action or condition that will occur after this moment. To use the future tense, add shall or will to the base form of the verb.
- Present perfect tense expresses an action or condition that took place at some indefinite time in the past.
- Past perfect tense indicates that a past action or condition began and ended before another past action or condition started.
- Future perfect tense expresses a future action or condition that will begin and end before another future event starts.
Progressive verb forms convey a continuing action, which you can create by adding the appropriate tense of be with the present participle of the main verb. For example, "We are talking in the garden." Are talking is the present progressive form. The present and past tenses have emphatic forms, which add emphasis to the verb. The emphatic form uses do, does, or did with the base form of the main verb. Such as, "We do talk in the garden." Do talk is the present emphatic form.
The active voice, which tends to be more engaging, uses active verbs. The active voice indicates that the subject performed the action of the sentence: "My grandmother shoveled soil." The passive voice arranges the sentence so that the action is performed on the subject: "The soil was shoveled by my grandmother." Sometimes the passive voice is necessary, like when it is unclear who or what has performed an action: "The soil was soaked."
When choosing a verb tense, remember to keep statements of universal truths in the present tense, even if the main verb is in past tense. "My grandmother proved that gardening is hard work." Also, do not shift or change verb tenses when two or more events occur at the same time. Shift tenses only if you want to show your audience that one event precedes or follows another.