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The key to understanding English tenses!

29 Jan 2013

Every language has some difficult bit.

It's that one aspect of the language that you'll be working on over and over again the whole time that you're learning it.

For English, it's verb tenses.

Counting the way the teachers usually do, English has 14-16 tenses. (There's many ways to count them!)

No matter what the exact number - the point is that English has a very complex verb system. I get TONS of questions from English learners about which tense is correct in a particular sentence.

A couple weeks ago, during one of our English lessons over voice chat, a learner (Hi Marcin!) asked me:

Why did you say: "I was using it as an example?" Why not: "I used it as an example?" You weren't talking about it very long - shouldn't it be past simple instead of past continuous?

The answer is actually quite simple. And it ISN'T a grammar explanation. ;-) Really! I won't need to draw a picture or show you a chart.

In fact, all this confusion comes from a fundamental misunderstanding about English tenses, which itself stems from years and years of teachers explaining the tenses in a particular way.

Today, I'm finally going to clear up this misunderstanding!

Read more to learn the key to understanding English tenses!