Do is used to form negative and question forms of the Present Tense and did is used in the Past Simple Tense:
I don’t like it. Does she go to the University? He didn’t pass the exams. Didn’t we meet at the airport?
Do is used in the positive to give emphasis to a verb:
She is very busy. She does try hard. I did try to help, but there was no need.
Do is used in tag questions and short answers:
He wrote it, didn’t he? She knows him better, doesn’t she? Who opened the window? Rose did.
Be + Present Participle (–ing) is used to form continuous tenses:
I am writing a letter now.
Be + Past Participle (–ed etc.) is used to form passive sentences:
The houses are built from bricks. It’ll be finished soon.
Have + Past Participle (–ed etc.) is used to form perfect tenses:
I have never been to London. They have already started it.
2. Modal auxiliary verbs
Unlike do, be, have (which only help to form tenses) modal auxiliaries have their own meanings. They express:
• ability (can) – I can’t explain it.
• possibility (can, may) – Can I have my photo taken?
• permission (may) – May I use your book?
• uncertainty (may) – You may think you’re very old, but you strike me as extremely young.
• reproach (might) – You might come in time.
• obligation (must, ought to) – Children ought to respect their parents. He must earn money.
• advisability (should) – You should be more careful.
• necessity (need) – He did not need to be told twice.
• refusal (will not/won’t) – The car won’t start. (It “refuses” to start).
Some important modal phrases:
1. To have + Infinitive (obligation, necessity) is used as a modal expression in three tense forms: Present, Past and Future Indefinite.
I have to get up at seven every day. Did you have to get up at 7 on Sunday? She will have to come on time.
2. To be + Infinitive (rather strict obligation, a planned action) is used as a modal expression in two tenses: Present and Past Indefinite (was, were).
You are to go straight to your room. We were to meet at the entrance of the theatre at a quarter to seven.
• Be able to is possible instead of can, but can is more usual; can has only two forms: can (present) and could (past). Sometimes we have to use be able to:
I haven’t been able to sleep very well recently (can has no Present Perfect).
I’ll be able to help you (can has no Future Indefinite).
• Could is the past of can especially with these verbs: see, hear, smell, taste, feel, remember and understand:
I could remember only a few words.
I could play handball very well when I was at school. (General ability to do something).
• If we mean that someone managed to do something in one particular situation, we have to use was/were able to (not could):
He was a good runner so he was able to escape from the prison.
• We sometimes use could to talk about possible future actions, especially when we make suggestions and could have (done) to say that we had the ability or the oportunity to do something but did not do it:
We could go to the theatre this evening (Present). We could have gone to the theatre but we decided to stay at home. (Past)(We had the opportunity to go out but we didn’t.)
• Mainly it doesn’t matter which of must (do) or have to (do) we use:
I must / have to go.
But with must the speaker gives his own feelings:
Lina is seriously ill. I must visit her.
With have to the speaker gives facts:
I have to get up early tomorrow.
Must is only used when we talk about the present and future:
I must read it. Must you hand it in next week?
Have to can be used in all forms:
We have to write about it. We had to write about it. We’ll have to write about it.
• We use do / does / did with have to in present/past questions and negative sentences:
Do you work? No, I’m extremely rich so I don’t have to work. She doesn’t have to get up so early. She gets up early because she prefers to.
• Mustn’t and don’t have to are completely different:
You mustn’t forget what I told you. (It is necessary that you do not forget). You don’t have to read this book. (It is not necessary to do it).
• Needn’t (do) means that it is not necessary to do something:
You needn’t worry.
• Instead of needn’t you can use don’t / doesn’t need to:
You don’t need to worry.
• We use needn’t have + Past Participle (–ed etc.) to say that someone did something but it wasn’t necessary:
I needn’t have hurried because the train was late.
• Didn’t need to is different from needn’t have:
I didn’t need to read, so I didn’t. (An action was unnecessary). I needn’t have taken an umbrella, it didn’t rain. (It was not known at the time that the action was not necessary.)
3. English tense usage in the Active Voice
• When you make a suggestion, you can say Why don’t you …? :
I am hungry. Why don’t we go and have a bite?
• When talking about one’s native country or city / town, we say:
“Where do you come from? Where are you from?” but not “Where are you coming from?”
We say “He comes from Germany” but not “He is coming from Germany.”
• Present Simple is used when we say how often we do things (every day (week etc.), often, usually, sometimes etc.). We say:
“I go to the university every week” but not “I am going to the university every week”.
say ”She often visits us” but not “She is often visiting us”.
We say “He usually watches TV in the evening” but not “He is usually watching TV in the evening”.
Table of Tenses (Active)
Aspect Present Past Future Future in the Past
Indefinite I go to the club every week. I went to the club last week. I shall go to the club next week. I said I should go to the club the following week.
Continuous (Don’t speak to him.) He is working. When I came he was working. (Don’t come at 8.) I shall be working. He said he would be working at 8 o’clock.
Perfect 1. (I can return the books to the library.) I have read them.
2. I have already known him for 2 years. 1. I had read all the books by the 1st of September.
2. By 1994 I had known him for 10 years. 1. I shall have read all the books by the 1st of May.
2. By 2000 I shall have known him for 16 years. I said I should have read all the books by the 1st of May.
Perfect Continuous 1. I have been reading this book for a week.
2. (I am very tired.) I have been reading a lot. 1. I had been reading that book for a week when you asked me for it.
2. (I was very tired.)
I had been reading a lot. By the 1st of June I shall have been reading the book for a month. I said (that) by the 1st of June I should have been reading the book for a month.
• Do not use will to talk about what you have arranged to do in the nearest future:
She is going to Paris next week (but not “She will go” because she has already planned it).
• When we are talking about timetables, programmes etc., we say:
“The train leaves at 7.00 p. m.” but not “The train is leaving at 7.00 p. m.”.
We say “Tomorrow is Monday” but not “Tomorrow will be Monday”.
• When we offer, agree or refuse, promise and ask, we say:
“I’ll help you” but not “I help you”.
We say “I’ll bring it back as soon as possible” but not “I bring …”
We say “I promise I’ll phone” but not “I promise I phone…”
We say “Will you lend me a book?” but not “Do you lend me a book ?”
• We use shall (not will) in the questions shall I …? and shall we …?
Shall I read ?
• We are not to mix gone to and been to:
He is away on business. He has gone to New York. (He is there now or he is on his way there.)
Lina is at home now. She has been to Belgium. (She has been there but now she has returned home.)
• We often use have got / has got rather than have / has alone:
We’ve got a new house. Have you got a new house?
But in the past we do not normally use got:
When we lived in Kaunas, we had an old house. Did you have an old house when you lived in Alytus?
“Have got” is not possible in these expressions: have breakfast (lunch, dinner, a cup of coffee, etc.); have a swim (a walk, a holiday etc.); have a bath / a wash etc.; have a look (at sth.); have a baby; have a chat; have a good time.
We make questions and negative sentences with these expressions using do / does / did:
I didn’t have a good time yesterday.
• We are not to confuse I used to do and I am used to doing. The structures and their meanings are different:
I used to spend a lot of money. (I spent much money but I no longer spend it.)
I am used to spending a lot of money. (I spend much money; it is like a habit because I have been spending a lot of money for some time.)
• There are some verbs which are not normally used in continuous tenses (but there are exceptions): want, like, belong, know, suppose, need, love, see, realise, mean, prefer, hate, hear, believe, understand, remember, forget, seem, sound, appear, smell, taste, wish, own, think (when the meaning is “believe”), have (when it is used for actions or the meaning is “possess”).
• Conditionals (if and wish sentences) are formed in this way:
a) Present Tense after if / Future Tense in the main clause:
If you get up earlier, we’ll be in time.
b) Past Simple after if / Future in the Past in the main clause:
If you got up earlier, we would be in time. (But we probably won’t.)
If I were you, I would go to the meeting. (But, of course, I am not you.)
c) Past Perfect after if /Future in the Past Perfect in the main clause:
If I had had enough money, I would have bought that castle.
(Hypothesis about the past. It is impossible to change what happened now.)
d) we also use the past for a present situation after wish:
I wish I knew English better. (I don’t know it very well.)
e) in if sentences and after wish we can use were instead of was:
If I were you I would phone him. = If I was you… .
I wish my dress were more beautiful. = I wish my dress was… .
f) simply, we don’t use would in the if part of the sentence or after wish:
If I were a Queen, I would travel a lot (not If I would be…).
g) we don’t use will/shall after in case, with unless, as long as, provided or providing when we are talking about the future:
He is going to take an umbrella in case it rains. We’ll be late unless we hurry. Providing he studies hard he will pass an exam.
h) in case of is different from in case:
In case of fire, please leave the building as soon as possible (if the building is on fire).
4. English tense usage in the Passive Voice
Table of Tenses (Passive)
Aspect Present Past Future Future in the Past
Indefinite I am arrested.
He is arrested.
We are arrested. I was arrested.
He was arrested.
We were arrested. I shall be arrested.
He will be
We shall be arrested. He said I should be arrested.
They said he would be arrested.
Continuous I am being arrested.
He is being arrested.
We are being arrested. I was being arrested.
He was being arrested.
We were being arrested. Perfect I have been arrested.
He has been arrested.
We have been arrested. I had been arrested.
He had been arrested.
We had been arrested. I shall have been arrested.
He will have been arrested.
We shall have been arrested. He said I should have been arrested.
They said he would have been arrested.
• Be born is a passive verb and is usually past: I was born in Vilnius.
• Some verbs can have two objects: They didn’t offer Andrew the job. (The two objects Andrew and the job).
So it is possible to make two different passive sentences: Andrew wasn’t offered the job. The job wasn’t offered to Andrew.