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The Indefinite Form




The Indefinite form merely shows that the action takes place in the present, past or future. The form of the verb gives no indication as to its duration or completion.

The Present Indefinite

1. The formation of the Present Indefinite.

1. The Present Indefinite is formed from the infinitive without the particle to.

In the third person singular the ending is added. After a sibilant represented in spelling by s, ss, ch, sh, tch, x, z and after the vowel o, -es is added: he writes, he reads, he speaks; he passes, he pushes, he watches, he teaches; he goes, he does [dAz].

2. The pronunciation of the ending-^ (-es) depends on the sound preceding it. It is pronounced as:

[iz] after the sibilants [s], [z], [ʃ], [tʃ], [dʒ]: passes ['pa:siz], pushes ['puʃiz], teaches ['ti;tʃiz] Judges ['dʒʌdʒiz];

[z] after voiced non-sibilants and vowels: reads [ri:dz], lives [livz], sees [si:z];

[s] after voiceless non-sibilants: works [w3:ks], wants [wonts].

3. In the third person singular we find the following orthographical change:

A final y is changed into i if it is preceded by a consonant and then

is added: to study he studies; to try he tries.

After a vowel y is kept unchanged: to play he plays; to stay he stays.

 

 

4. The interrogative and the negative forms are formed by means of the Present Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to do and the infinitive of the notional verb without the particle to.

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I work He works She works We work You work They work Do I work? Does he work? Does she work? Do we work? Do you work? Do they work? I do not work He does not work She does not work We do not work You do not work They do not work

 

1. The contracted negative forms are:

I don't work

He doesn't work

They don't work

2. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Do you not work?

Don't you work?

Does he not work?

Doesn't he work?

2. The use of the Present Indefinite.

The Present Indefinite is used to denote:

1.Customary, repeated actions. This is its most characteristic use.

The Browns go to the seaside every summer.

The repeated character of the action is often shown by adverbials such as every day, often, usually, etc.

2.Actions and states characterizing a given person.

She has many accomplishments: she sings and plays the piano beautifully.

3.Universal truths, something which is eternally true.

Magnet attracts iron.

The earth rotates round its axis.

4.Actions going on at the present moment (with verbs not used in the Continuous form).



I see George in the street. Tell him to come in.

I hear somebody knock. Go and open the door.

The list of verbs which are normally not used in the Continuous form (but there are exceptions) is as follows: want, prefer; like, love, hate, belong, see, hear; know, realize, believe, suppose, mean, understand, remember, forget, seem, have (when the meaning is 'possess'), think (when the meaning is 'believe').

(For detailed treatment see 16.)

1. A future action:

(a) in adverbial clauses of time and condition after the conjunctions when, till, until, before, after; as soon as, as long as, if unless, on condition that, provided.

... Robert, will you mend me a pen or two before you go? (Ch. Bront)

I promise not to try to see Robert again till he asks for me. (Ch. Bront)

N o t e. It should be borne in mind that this use of the Present Indefinite occurs only in adverbial clauses of time and condition. In object and attributive clauses introduced by when the Future Indefinite is used.

I wonder when he will give us an answer.

We are impatiently awaiting the day when our friends will return from their long journey.

(b) with verbs of motion, such as to go, to come, to leave etc. The future action is regarded as something fixed.

The train leaves at 10 tomorrow.

We find the same phenomenon in Russian.

.

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The Past Indefinite

3. The formation of the Past Indefinite.

1. The Past Indefinite is formed by adding -ed or -d to the stem (regular verbs), or by changing the root vowel, or in some other ways (irregular verbs).



(For detailed treatment see The Verb, 3.)

2. The interrogative and the negative forms are formed by means of the Past Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to do (did) and the infinitive of the notional verb without the particle to.

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I worked (wrote) He worked (wrote) She worked (wrote) We worked (wrote) You worked (wrote) They worked (wrote) Did I work (write)? Did he work (write)? Did she work (write)? Did we work (write)? Did you work (write)? Did they work (write)? I did not work (write) He did not work (write) She did not work (write) We did not work (write) You did not work (write) They did not work (write)

 

3. The contracted negative forms are:

I didn't work She didn't work

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Did you not work? Didn't you work?

 

4. The use of the Past Indefinite.

The Past Indefinite denotes an action performed within a period of time which is already over. The action is cut off from the present. The time of the action may be indicated by adverbials of past time, such as yesterday, a week ago, last year, etc.

The sun came out a moment ago.

Miss Helstone stayed the whole evening. (Ch. Bronte)

Ellean breakfasted two hours ago, and then went out walking with the dog (Pinero)

The Past Indefinite can correspond to the Russian past perfective and past imperfective ( ).

He smoked a cigarette and left the room ().

He smoked in silence for a few minutes ().

The translation depends on the context and the lexical character of the verb.

The Past Indefinite is used to denote:

(a)an action performed in the past.

We entered Farmer Ridley's meadow in silence. (Marryat)

(b)a succession of past actions.

In this case the Past Indefinite is rendered in Russian by the past perfective.

He threw down his spade and entered the house. (Ch. Bronte) .

()repeated actions in the past.

In this case the Past Indefinite is rendered in Russian by the past imperfective.

He made an entry in his diary every night. (Bennett) .

Note. Repeated actions in the past which no longer happen can be expressed by used to + Infinitive and would + Infinitive. Used to is more colloquial and would is more literary.

Every afternoon, when the children came from school, they used to go and play in the Giant's garden. (Wilde)

When fits of melancholy came upon him, he would spend all days locked in his room. (E. Bronte)

Sometimes used to does not denote repeated actions, but actions characterizing a person or actions or states which lasted a long time.

The Reed used to like the rain. (Wilde)

There used to be an old oak-tree near the house.

The interrogative form is did... use to?, the negative form is didn't use to/ used not to.

Did you use to read a lot when you were a child?

John didn't use to go out very often until he met Val.

 

The Future Indefinite

5. The formation of the Future Indefinite.

1. The Future Indefinite is formed by means of the auxiliary verbs shall and will and the infinitive without to of the notional verb.

Shall is used for the first person singular and plural. In British English prescriptive tradition forbids will as a future auxiliary with the first person singular and plural, but this tradition is old-fashioned and is nowadays widely ignored. It is recommended though to use shall, in preference to will, with the first person in formal style.

Will is used for the first, second and the third person singular and plural. In informal style the contracted form ll is used for all the persons. In American English only will is used with all the persons.

2. In the interrogative form the auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the auxiliary verb. Shall is still used in British English in questions with the first person singular and plural.

What shall I wear to the party?

I'll drive, shall I?

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I shall/will work He will work She will work We shall/will work You will work They will work Shall/Will I work? Will he work? Will she work? Shall/Will we work? Will you work? Will they work? I shall/will not work He will not work She will not work We shall/will not work You will not work They will not work

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'll work

You'll work

The contracted negative forms are:

I shan't [ʃa:nt] work

He won't [wəunt] work

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Shall we not work?

Shan't we work?

Will he not work?

Won't he work?

6. The use of the Future Indefinite.

The Future Indefinite is used to denote a future action.

It will be much cooler up at Fiesole. (Voynich)

N o t e. To denote a future action the word combinations to be going + Infinitive, to be about + Infinitive, and to be on the point of + Gerund are often used.

To be going to, to be about to, to be on the point of denote an action which is expected to take place in the nearest future. To be going to is colloquial, to be on the point of is literary.

This is going to be a cheerful evening. (Shaw)

The runners are about to start.

The Future Indefinite is rendered in Russian by the future perfective and imperfective.

I will read ten chapters tomorrow. .

I will read the whole day tomorrow. .

The Future Indefinite in the Past

7. The formation of the Future Indefinite in the Past.

1. The Future Indefinite in the Past is formed by means of the auxiliary verbs should and would and the infinitive without to of the notional verb.

Should is used for the first person singular and plural (only in British English).

Would is used for the first, second and the third person singular and plural.

2. In the interrogative form the auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I should/would work He would work She would work We should/would work You would work They would work Should/Would I work? Would he work? Would she work? Should/Would we work? Would you work? Would they work? I should/would not work He would not work She would not work We should/would not work You would not work They would not work

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'd work

He'd work

The contracted negative forms are:

I shouldn't work

He wouldn't work

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Should I not work? Shouldn't I work?

Would he not work? Wouldn't he work?

8. The use of the Future Indefinite in the Past.

The Future Indefinite in the Past denotes an action which was future from the point of view of the past.

I was sure he would agree with me.

(For detailed treatment see Chapter XVI11.)

 

 

The Continuous Form

The Continuous form denotes an action in progress at the present moment or at a given moment in the past or future. It is formed by means of the auxiliary verb to be in the required tense and Participle I of the notional verb.

The Present Continuous

9. The formation of the Present Continuous.

1. The Present Continuous is formed by means of the Present Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle I of the notional verb. (On the formation of Participle I see Chapter VIII, 3.)

2. In the interrogative form the auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I am reading He is reading She is reading We are reading You are reading They are reading Am I reading? Is he reading? Is she reading? Are we reading? Are you reading? Are they reading? I am not reading He is not reading She is not reading We are not reading You are not reading They are not reading

 

3.The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'm reading

She's reading

We're reading

The contracted negative forms are:

She isn't reading

We aren't reading

4.The negative-interrogative forms are:

Am I not reading?

Is she not reading?

Isn't she reading?

Are you not reading?

Aren't you reading?

10. The use of the Present Continuous.

I. The Present Continuous is used to denote an action going on at the present moment. It should be borne in mind that the term 'present moment' is not limited to the actual moment of speaking. The Present Continuous is used when in Russian we can say (), which refers not only to the moment of speaking, but has a wider meaning.

"My dear," said Jolyon with gentle exasperation, "you are talking nonsense." (Galsworthy)

Robert is just now speaking to my uncle and they are shaking hands. (Ch Bronte)

How is Dartie behaving now? (Galsworthy) ?

Katya is in Britain for three months. She is learning English.

Note. The Present Indefinite, not the Present Continuous, is used to denote actions going on at the present moment when the fact is important and not the process.

He did such a mean thing and you defend him.

Why don't you read your examples?

Why do you look at me as if you had never seen me?

Why don't you answer? Good God, John, what has happened? (Thackeray)

The Present Continuous can be used to denote a certain state or quality peculiar to the person at a given moment.

You are being a nuisance.

"You are being bitter," said Karen. (Heym)

2.When there are two actions one of which is in progress and the other is a habitual action, the first is expressed by the Present Continuous and the second by the Present Indefinite.

You never open your lips while you are painting. (Wilde)

I never talk while I am working. (Wilde)

3.The Present Continuous is used when people are talking about their future arrangements. The Future Indefinite is not used in such cases.

I'm leaving tonight. (Abrahams)

He is coming to us tomorrow to stop till next month. (Collins)

I'm playing golf tomorrow.

What are you doing tonight?

If not personal arrangements, but timetables, programmes, etc. are described, the Present Indefinite should be used:

What time does the film begin?

The train leaves Bracknell at 10.03 and arrives in London at 11.05.

4.The Present Continuous is used to express a continual process. In this case the adverbs always, constantly, ever are used.

The earth is always moving.

The sun is ever shining.

5.The Present Continuous is used to express an action thought of as a continual process (with the adverbs always, ever; constantly). The action is represented as going on without any interval.

She is always grumbling.

"She is constantly thinking of you," I said. (Wells)

The difference between case 4 and case 5 is as follows: what is said in No. 4 is literally true, whereas in No. 5 there is an element of exaggeration, because the action in this case cannot go on without intervals. The exaggeration is generally called forth by emotion.

 

 

The Past Continuous

11. The formation of the Past Continuous.

The Past Continuous is formed by means of the Past Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle I of the notional verb.

In the interrogative form the auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I was reading He was reading She was reading We were reading You were reading They were reading Was I reading? Was he reading? Was she reading? Were we reading ? Were you reading? Were they reading? I was not reading He was not reading She was not reading We were not reading You were not reading They were not reading

 

The contracted negative forms are:

He wasn't reading

They weren't reading

The negative-interrogative forms are:

Was he not reading?

Wasn't he reading?

Were they not reading?

Weren't they reading?

12. The use of the Past Continuous.

1. The Past Continuous is used to denote an action which was going on at a definite moment in the past.

It was twelve and he was still sitting, when the presence of Cowperwood was announced. (Dreiser)

The definite moment is indicated either by another past action expressed by a verb in the Past Indefinite or by an adverbial phrase.

When I returned, she was sweeping the floor. (Bennett)

At midnight he was still working, though he was feeling ill and was longing to go to bed.

The definite moment is often not expressed, but understood from the situation.

He did not notice what was going on around him he was reading.

The Past Continuous is used to denote a certain state or quality peculiar to the person at a given moment in the past.

He knew he was being scientific and restrained. (Cronin)

2. The Past Continuous or the Past Indefinite is often used after such phrases as the whole day, all day long.

They were working in the garden all day long. They worked in the garden all day long.

3. The Past Continuous is used to denote an action thought of as a continual process. In this case the adverbs always, ever; constantly are used. The Past Continuous in this use is often to be found in emotional speech.

She was constantly complaining of being lonely. (Shaw)

He was never able to look after his flowers at all, for his friend, the Miller, was always coming round and sending him off on long errands or getting him to help on the mill. (Wilde)

The Past Continuous is rendered in Russian by the past imperfective.

When I came home, she was cooking dinner. , .

 

The Future Continuous

13. The formation of the Future Continuous.

1. The Future Continuous is formed by means of the Future Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle I of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative
I shall/will be reading He will be reading She will be reading We shall/will be reading You will be reading They will be reading Shall/Will I be reading? Will he be reading? Will she be reading? Shall/Will we be reading? Will you be reading? Will they be reading

 

Negative
I shall/will not be reading He will not be reading She will not be reading We shall/will not be reading You will not be reading They will not be reading  

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'll be reading

He'll be reading

The contracted negative forms are:

I shan't be reading

He won't be reading

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Shall I not be reading?

Shan't I be reading?

Will he not be reading?

Won't he be reading?

14. The use of the Future Continuous.

1. The Future Continuous is used to denote an action which will be going on at a definite moment in the future.

I wonder whether we shall ever arrive at a decision. I am sure the next time you call we shall still be wavering. (Collins)

The definite moment is indicated either by another future action expressed by a verb in the Present Indefinite or by an adverbial phrase.

I'll already be working when you return.

At 12 o'clock I'll still be working.

The definite moment is often not expressed, but is understood from the situation.

I am sure you won't be able to speak to him, he will be working.

2. The Future Continuous can have a modal colouring: it can denote an action which is sure to take place, often independently of the will of the speaker and the doer of the action.

I feel I shall be asking you the same question tomorrow.

But my dear Ann Veronica, you will be getting into debt. (Wells)

The Future Continuous also denotes an action which is already planned or arranged. In this respect is it similar to the corresponding usage of the Present Continuous Tense ( 10. 3).

I'll be going out (I'm going out) later. Do you want anything?

The Future Continuous in the Past

15. The formation of the Future Continuous in the Past.

1. The Future Continuous in the Past is formed by means of the Future Indefinite in the Past of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle I of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative
I should/would be reading He would be reading She would be reading We should/would be reading You would be reading They would be reading Should/Would I be reading? Would he be reading? Would she be reading? Should/Would we be reading? Would you be reading? Would they be reading?

 

 

Negative
I should/would not be reading He would not be reading She would not be reading We should/would not be reading You would not be reading They would not be reading  

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'd be reading

He'd be reading

The contracted negative forms are:

I shouldn't be reading

He wouldn't be reading

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Should I not be reading?

Shouldn't I be reading?

Would he not be reading?

Wouldn't he be reading?

16. The use of the Future Continuous in the Past.

The Future Continuous in the Past denotes an action going on at a definite moment which was future from the point of view of the past.

I felt sure they would be discussing the same problem when I called.

(For detailed treatment see Chapter XVIII.)

Note l. Influence of the lexical character of the verb on the use of the Indefinite and the Continuous form.

To express a process with terminative verbs the Continuous form alone is possible.

At that moment he was unlocking the door. (Oppenheim) .

With the Indefinite form the meaning would be quite different: the action would be represented as completed.

At that moment he unlocked the door. .

express a process with non-terminative verbs the Continuous form is mostly used, though the Indefinite form is also found, especially with such verbs as to sit, to stand, to lie, because these verbs express a state rather than a process.

When I saw her, she lay motionless on the sofa.

With the adverbial modifier the whole day yesterday (tomorrow) both the Indefinite and the Continuous form of non-terminative verbs can be used to denote a process.

I was so tired I slept (was sleeping) the whole day yesterday.

The meaning is the same, only with the Continuous form the process is expressed more emphatically.

Note 2. The use of the Past Indefinite and the Past Continuous in complex sentences with as and while.

The use of the Past Indefinite and the Past Continuous in complex sentences with as and while, when there are two actions going on at the same time, largely depends on the lexical character of the verb.

(1) If both the verbs are terminative, they are generally used in the Past Continuous.

She was arranging the books on the shelf while I was sweeping the floor.

(2) If one of them is terminative and the other non-terminative, the terminative verb must be used in the Past Continuous and the non-terminative, verb may be used either in the Past Continuous or, preferably, in the Past Indefinite.

She was arranging the books on the shelf while I played the piano.

(3) If both verbs are non-terminative the best way is the Past Indefinite in both clauses.

He read as he ate. (Bennett)

There is another possibility: the use of the Past Indefinite in one clause and the Past Continuous in the other.

He was singing as he walked.

 

Verbs Not Used in the Continuous Form

It naturally follows from the definition of the Continuous form ("it denotes an action in a state of process at the present moment or at a definite moment in the past or future") that verbs which do not express a process are not used in the continuous form.

The following groups of verbs do not express a process:

(a) verbs denoting sense perception (to see, to hear);

(b) verbs denoting mental activity (to know, to believe);

(c) verbs denoting wish (to want, to wish);

(d) verbs denoting feeling (to love, to hate, to like);

(e) verbs denoting abstract relations (to have, to consist, to depend, to belong).

In such expressions as to see the sights of, to see somebody home, to see somebody off the verb to see does not mean '', so it can be used in the Continuous form.

They were seeing the sights of London while their cousin waited for them at the hotel. (Wells)

It is naturally possible to use the Continuous form of the verb to have in the expressions of the type to have dinner (lunch, supper), because it does not denote possession.

They are having lunch.

The verb to think cannot be used in the Continuous form if it denotes an opinion; it can if it denotes a process of thought.

I think you are right.

I am thinking of what you have just said.

The verb to admire cannot be used in the Continuous form if it means ''; it can if it means ''.

"I hope you dote on Harry the Eighth!" "I admire him very much," said Carker. (Dickens)

What are you doing here, my poetic little friend? Admiring the moon, eh? (Collins)

The Perfect Form

The Perfect form denotes an action completed before the present moment (and connected with it) or before a definite moment in the past or future.

It is formed by means of the auxiliary verb to have in the required tense and Participle II of the notional verb. (On the formation of Participle II see Chapter VII, 3.)

The Present Perfect

17. The formation of the Present Perfect.

1. The Present Perfect is formed by means of the Present Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to have and Participle II of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I have worked He has worked She has worked We have worked You have worked They have worked Have I worked? Has he worked? Has she worked? Have we worked? Have you worked? Have they worked? I have not worked He has not worked She has not worked We have not worked You have not worked They have not worked

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I've worked

He's worked

You've worked

The contracted negative forms are:

I haven't worked

He hasn't worked

You haven't worked

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Has she not worked?

Hasn't she worked?

Have you not worked?

Haven't you worked?

18. The use of the Present Perfect.

I. The Present Perfect denotes a completed action connected with the present.

Stop that car! They have killed a child. (Dreiser)

I am a little frightened for I have lost my way. (Dickens)

The Present Perfect is frequently used with the adverbs just, yet, already and of late. The adverb yet is used only in interrogative and negative sentences.

Mr. Worthing, I suppose, has not returned from town yef! (Wilde)

I have just written to him. (Dickens)

He has done a great deal of work of late. (Locke)

N o t e. In American English the Past Indefinite is often used to give new information or to announce a recent happening.

I lost my key. Can you help me look for it?

The Past Indefinite is used with just, already and yet.

I'm not hungry. I just had lunch.

Don't forget to post the letter. I already posted it.

I didn't tell them about the accident yet.

The Present Perfect can be rendered in Russian by the past perfective or imperfective.

How many pages have you translated for today? ? Have you ever translated technical articles? - ?

2. The Present Perfect is used in adverbial clauses of time after the conjunctions when, till, until, before, after; as soon as to denote an action completed before a definite moment in the future.

Don't buy any more meat tomorrow until you have spoken to the mistress about it. (Bennett)

I am not going till you have answered me. (Galsworthy)

Note. Verbs of sense perception and motion such as to hear; to see, to come, to arrive, to return in adverbial clauses of time are generally used in the Present Indefinite and not in the Present Perfect.

I am sure he will recognize the poem when he hears the first line. , , .

We'll ask Mr. Franklin, my dear, if you can wait till Mr. Franklin comes. (Collins)

When the completion of the action is emphasized, the Present Perfect is used.

He will know the poem by heart when he has heard it twice. , .

3. The Present Perfect denotes an action which began in the past, has been going on up to the present and is still going on. In this case either the starting point of the action is indicated or the whole period of duration. The preposition for is used to denote the whole period of duration. Since is used to indicate the starting point of the action. If the conjunction since introduces a clause, the verb in this clause is in the Past Indefinite.

Mr. Cowperwood, I have known you now for something like fourteen years. (Dreiser)

We have been engaged these four years. (Austen)

Where have you been since last Thursday? (Wilde)

Have you been alone, Florence, since I was here last? (Dickens)

Note. There is a tendency in informal American English, and increasingly in informal British English, to use the Past Indefinite in the principal clause, if the adverbial clause of time is introduced by the conjunction since.

I lost ten pounds since I started swimming (informal).

This use of the Present Perfect is called the Present Perfect Inclusive.

The Present Perfect Inclusive is used:

(a) with verbs not admitting of the Continuous form.

"There is nothing to be done. She's dead has been dead for hours," said the doctor. (Eliot)

(b) in negative sentences. (In this case the Present Perfect Continuous is not impossible. See 28.)

I have not slept since that night. (Bennett)

(c) with non-terminative verbs such as to live, to work, to study, to teach, to travel etc. (In this case the Present Perfect Continuous is possible. See 28.)

I have worked upon the problem for a long time without reaching any conclusion. (Shaw)

The Present Perfect in this case is translated into Russian by the present or sometimes by the past imperfective.

I have known him for many years. . I have always been fond of music. .

N t l. In the following cases the Present Perfect is not used:

1. ? What did you say?

2. . I did not hear your question.

3. ? Where did you buy the book?

4. . Now I understand.

5. , . I hear that Mary is in Moscow (to hear is not a verb of sense perception here, it means 'the rumour reached me').

6. , . I am told that Mary is in Moscow.

7. , . I forget where he lives.

8. . I forget the title of the book (a certain fact).

Compare:

I have forgotten to ring her up (a certain action).

N t e 2. The Present Perfect is to be used in sentences starting with It's the first (second y etc.) time..., This is the first (second, etc.) time...:

This is the first time she has driven a car.

19. The Past Indefinite and the Present Perfect.

An action expressed by the Past Indefinite belongs exclusively to the sphere of the past, while the Present Perfect shows that a past occurrence is connected with the present time.

She is not well and has changed very much of late.

She changed very much a great many years ago. (Dickens)

The Present Perfect is never used with such adverbial modifiers of the past time as yesterday, the other day, last week etc. With such adverbial modifiers as today, this week etc. both the Present Perfect and the Past Indefinite arc used. The tenses are used according to the principle mentioned above ( 4, 18).

I have told you three times this week that she is coming home for a year. (Dreiser)

I want your sister, the woman who gave me money today. (Dickens)

With the adverb just the Present Perfect is used.

I have just hired a new pianist from St. Joe a Negro. (Dreiser)

With the expression just now the Past Indefinite is used.

I saw you come in just now. (Dreiser)

Just now is less frequent than just.

The Past Perfect

20. The formation of the Past Perfect.

1. The Past Perfect is formed by means of the Past Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to have and Participle II of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I had worked He had worked She had worked We had worked You had worked They had worked Had I worked? Had he worked? Had she worked? Had we worked? Had you worked? Had they worked? I had not worked He had not worked She had not worked We had not worked You had not worked They had not worked

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'd written

We'd written

The contracted negative forms are:

I hadn't written

We hadn't written

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Had he not written?

Hadn't he written?

Had you not written?

Hadn't you written?

21. The use of the Past Perfect.

I. The Past Perfect denotes an action completed before a certain moment in the past. The moment may be indicated by another past action expressed by a verb in the Past Indefinite or by an adverbial phrase.

They had walked only a few steps when a second group of tanks drew up on the side road. (Heym)

After she had cried out, she felt easier. (Heym)

Fortunately the rain had stopped before we started. (Bennett)

By this time Cowperwood had written Aileen under no circumstances to try to see him. (Dreiser)

The clock had not struck when he reached Gray's Inn. (Dickens)

The definite moment can be understood from the situation.

The Squire had laid down his knife and fork, and was staring at his son in amazement. (Eliot)

The definite moment need not necessarily be expressed in the same sentence as the action expressed by the Past Perfect.

Everybody noticed how sad she was the whole evening. She had got an unpleasant letter. (Collins)

The Past Perfect is used with the conjunctions hardly... when, scarcely... when, no sooner... than.

They had no sooner arrived at this point than a most violent and startling knocking was heard. (Jerome)

Nell had scarcely settled herself on a little heap of straw in the corner when she fell asleep. (Dickens)

For the sake of emphasis the word order may be inverted.

No sooner had she laid herself down than she heard the prolonged trill of the front-door bell. (Bennett)

The Past Perfect is frequently used with the adverbs just, already, yet.

Elsie, who had not yet assumed the white cap, was sweeping the stairs. (Bennett)

2. Sometimes the Past Perfect does not denote priority but only the completion of the action.

He waited until she had found the latch-key and opened the door. (Bennett)

The Squire was purple with anger before his son had done speaking. (Eliot)

The Past Perfect is rendered in Russian by the past perfective.

By this time Cowperwood had written Aileen under no circumstances to try to see him. (Dreiser) Kaynep- , .

3. The Past Perfect is used to denote an action which began before a definite moment in the past, continued up to that moment and was still going on at that moment. This use is called the Past Perfect Inclusive. The starting point or the whole period of duration of the action is indicated. To indicate the starting point the preposition since is used, to indicate the whole period of duration for is used.

The Past Perfect Inclusive is used:

(a) with verbs not admitting of the Continuous form.

Examination convinced him that the deacon was dead had been dead for some time. (Eliot)

(b) in negative sentences. (In this case the Past Perfect Continuous is also possible, but not common. See 32.)

Those two had not spoken to each other for three days and were in a state of rage. (Bennett)

(c) with non-terminative verbs such as to work, to live, to study, to teach, to travel, to laststc. (In this case the Past Perfect Continuous is Possible. See 32.)

The ride had lasted about ten minutes, when the truck suddenly swerved to a halt. (Heym)

The Past Perfect Inclusive is generally rendered in Russian by the past perfective.

He had not written a line since he arrived. , .

22. The Past Indefinite and the Past Perfect.

1. The Past Perfect is not used to denote a succession of actions. In this case the Past Indefinite is used.

The Past Indefinite is used with the conjunctions after; before, when if the relation between the actions approaches succession, i. e. when the idea of completion is of no importance.

He went on with his work after he had a short rest.

He had a short rest before he went on with his work.

When I wrote the letter, I posted it.

2. Verbs of motion and sense perception such as to come, to arrive, to return, to see, to hear; in adverbial clauses of time are generally used in the Past Indefinite and not in the Past Perfect. The actions are practically simultaneous.

When he (Val) came down... he found his mother scrupulous in a low evening dress... (Galsworthy)

When he heard the first line of the poem, he recognized it at once.

When the completion of the action is emphasized the Past Perfect is used.

He knew the poem by heart when he had heard it several times.

 

The Future Perfect

23. The formation of the Future Perfect.

1. The Future Perfect is formed by means of the Future Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to have and Participle II of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative
I shall/will have worked Shall/Will I have worked?
He will have worked Will he have worked?
She will have worked Will she have worked?
We shall/will have worked Shall/Will we have worked?
You will have worked Will you have worked?
They will have worked Will they have worked?

 

Negative
I shall/will not have worked He will not have worked She will not have worked We shall/will not have worked You will not have worked They will not have worked  

 

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'll have worked

He'll have worked

The contracted negative forms are:

I shan't have worked

He won't have worked

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Will he not have worked?

Won't he have worked?

Shall we not have worked?

Shan't we have worked?

 

24. The use of the Future Perfect.

1. The Future Perfect denotes an action completed before a definite moment in the future.

I shall be back by six, and I hope you will have had a good sleep by that time. (Marryat)

2. The Future Perfect can denote an action which will begin before a definite moment in the future, will continue up to that moment and will be going on at that moment. This use of the Future Perfect is called the Future Perfect Inclusive.

The Future Perfect Inclusive is used with verbs not admitting of the Continuous form, in negative sentences, with non-terminative verbs such as to work, to live, to study, to teach etc.

I shall/will have been a teacher for 20 years by next May. I shall/will have worked as a teacher for 20 years by next May.

The Future Perfect in the Past

25. The formation of the Future Perfect in the Past.

1. The Future Perfect in the Past is formed by means of the Future Indefinite in the Past of the auxiliary verb to have and Participle II of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative
I should/would have worked He would have worked She would have worked We should/would have worked You would have worked They would have worked Should/Would I have worked? Would he have worked? Would she have worked? Should/Would we have worked? Would you have worked? Would they have worked?

 

Negative
I should/would not have worked He would not have worked She would not have worked We should/would not have worked You would not have worked They would not have worked  

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'd have worked

He'd have worked

The contracted negative forms are:

I shouldn't have worked

He wouldn't have worked

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Should I not have worked?

Shouldn't I have worked?

Would he not have worked?

Wouldn't he have worked?

26. The use of the Future Perfect in the Past.

The Future Perfect in the Past is used to denote an action completed before a definite moment which was future from the point of view of the past.

I wondered whether they would have reached the place by noon.

(For detailed treatment see Chapter XVIII.)

The Perfect Continuous Form

The Perfect Continuous form denotes an action in progress, whose duration before a definite moment in the present, past or future is expressed.

It is formed by means of the auxiliary verb to be in one of the perfect tenses and Participle I of the notional verb.

 

The Present Perfect Continuous

27. The formation of the Present Perfect Continuous.

The Present Perfect Continuous is formed by means of the Present Perfect of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle I of the notional verb.

In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative
I have been working He has been working She has been working We have been working You have been working They have been working Have I been working? Has he been working? Has she been working? Have we been working? Have you been working? Have they been working?

 

Negative  
I have not been working He has not been working She has not been working We have not been working You have not been working They have not been working  

The contracted affirmative forms are:

I've been working

He's been working

You've been working

The contracted negative forms are:

I haven't been working

He hasn't been working

We haven't been working

The negative-interrogative forms are:

Has he not been working?

Hasn't he been working?

Have you not been working?

Haven't you been working?

28. The use of the Present Perfect Continuous.

We distinguish two uses of the Present Perfect Continuous: the Present Perfect Continuous Inclusive and the Present Perfect Continuous Exclusive.

1. The Present Perfect Continuous Inclusive is used to denote an action which began in the past, has been going on up to the present and is still going on.

The Present Perfect Continuous Inclusive is generally used with since (denoting the starting point of the action), for (denoting the whole period of duration), these two days, etc. (If the conjunction since introduces a clause, the verb in this clause is in the Past Indefinite.)

I have been looking out for your white dress for the last ten minutes. (Bennett)

Ever since I saw you last I have been thinking, thinking. (Dreiser)

As has been stated above (see 18.3) the Present Perfect Inclusive is used to denote an action which began in the past, has been going on up to the present and is still going on with verbs not admitting of the Continuous form, in negative sentences and with certain non-terminative verbs.

With verbs not admitting of the Continuous form the Present Perfect Inclusive is the only tense possible.

Note. In colloquial English the verbs to want and to wish are often to be found in the Perfect Continuous form, though, as stated above, they are not used in the Continuous form.

I have been wishing to speak to you ever since you returned. (Collins)

With verbs in the negative form the Present Perfect Continuous Inclusive can be used, but it is far less common than the Present Perfect Inclusive.

With certain non-terminative verbs both the Present Perfect Inclusive and the Present Perfect Continuous Inclusive are used.

We have worked at the problem for several months. (The fact is emphasized.)

We have been working and working at the problem for months and I don't think we are likely to solve it. (Locke) (The process is emphasized.)

The Present Perfect Continuous Inclusive is rendered in Russian by the present:

I have been teaching at this school for 20 years. 20 .

2. The Present Perfect Continuous Exclusive denotes an action which was recently in progress but is no longer going on at the present moment.

You are not well to-day. You look distressed. You have been weeping. (Dickens)

The Present Perfect Continuous Exclusive is used to express repeated actions in the past.

How have you been spending your money?

I have been buying pictures. (Locke)

I have been getting letters from him.

The Present Perfect Continuous Exclusive is often used with an emotional colouring.

I suppose you have been telling lies again. (Marryat)

The Present Perfect Continuous Exclusive is rendered in Russian by the past imperfective.

Your eyes are red. You have been crying. . .

29. The Present Perfect Continuous Inclusive and the Present Continuous.

Students should take care not to mix up the Present Perfect Continuous and the Present Continuous: the Present Continuous is used to denote an action going on at the present moment, no previous duration is expressed. The Present Perfect Continuous Inclusive is used when the previous duration of the action is expressed.

I am reading Dombey and Son.

I have been reading Dombey and Son for three days.

There is no difference in the translation:

.

.

30. The Present Perfect and the Present Perfect Continuous Exclusive.

The Present Perfect denotes a completed action while with the Present Perfect Continuous Exclusive there is an implication of incompleteness.

He has made some experiments. .

has been making experiments. . Why are your lips black? I have been eating blackberries. I have eaten a whole plateful. . .

She is walking up and down the room thinking of the letter she has been writing and wondering how she should finish it.

She is going to post the letter she has just written.

The Past Perfect Continuous

31. The formation of the Past Perfect Continuous.

1. The Past Perfect Continuous is formed by means of the Past Perfect of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle I of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative
I had been writing He had been writing She had been writing We had been writing You had been writing They had been writing Had I been writing? Had he been writing? Had she been writing? Had we been writing? Had you been writing? Had they been writing?
Negative
I had not been writing He had not been writing She had not been writing We had not been writing You had not been writing They had not been writing  

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'd been writing

She'd been writing

The contracted negative forms are:

I hadn't been writing

We hadn't been writing

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Had he not been writing? ( Hadn't he been writing?

Had you not been writing? I Hadn't you been writing?

32. The use of the Past Perfect Continuous.

We distinguish two uses of the Past Perfect Continuous: the Past Perfect Continuous Inclusive and the Past Perfect Continuous Exclusive.

1. The Past Perfect Continuous Inclusive denotes an action which began before a definite moment in the past, continued up to that moment and was still going on at that moment. Either the starting point of the action is indicated or the whole period of duration. The preposition for is used to denote the whole period of duration. Since is used to indicate the starting point of the action.

We could not go out because it had been raining since early morning.

We could not go out because it had been raining for two hours.

He had been entertaining at restaurants for thirty years and he knew how to assure the smooth passage of the meal. (Bennett)

As has been stated above (see 21), the Past Perfect Inclusive is used to express an action which began before a definite moment in the past, continued up to that moment and was still going on at that moment, with verbs not admitting of the Continuous form, in negative sentences and with certain non-terminative verbs.

With verbs not admitting of the Continuous form the Past Perfect Inclusive is the only tense possible.

In negative sentences the Past Perfect Continuous Inclusive can be used, but it is far less common than the Past Perfect Inclusive.

With certain non-terminative verbs both the Past Perfect Inclusive and the Past Perfect Continuous Inclusive are used.

He said he had worked for twenty years. (The fact is emphasized.)

He said he had been working for a long time without achieving final results. (The process is emphasized.)

The Past Perfect Continuous Inclusive is rendered in Russian by the past imperfective.

I had been reading about an hour when he came. , .

2. The Past Perfect Continuous Exclusive denotes an action which was no longer going on at a definite moment in the past, but which had been in progress not long before.

I sobbed a little still, but that was because I had been crying, not because I was crying then. (Dickens)

33. The Past Perfect Continuous Inclusive and the Past Continuous.

The Past Perfect Continuous Inclusive should not be confused with the Past Continuous. The Past Continuous is used to denote an action going on at a definite moment in the past, no previous duration is expressed. The Past Perfect Continuous Inclusive is used when the previous duration of the action is expressed.

And now it was raining, had been raining for days the miserable fall rains of Eastern France. (Heym)

The magnificent motor-car was waiting at the kerb. It had been waiting for two hours. (Bennett)

 

The Future Perfect Continuous

34. The formation of the Future Perfect Continuous.

1. The Future Perfect Continuous is formed by means of the Future Perfect of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle I of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative
I shall/will have been working He will have been working She will have been working We shall/will have been working You will have been working They will have been working Shall/Will I have been working? Will he have been working? Will she have been working? Shall/Will we have been working? Will you have been working? Will they have been working?

 

Negative  
I shall/will not have been working He will not have been working She will not have been working We shall/will not have been working You will not have been working They will not have been working  

 

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'll have been working

He'll have been working

The contracted negative forms are:

I shan't have been working

He won't have been working

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Will he not have been working?

Won't he have been working?

Shall we not have been working?

Shan't we have been working?

35. The use of the Future Perfect Continuous.

The Future Perfect Continuous denotes an action which will begin before a definite moment in the future, will continue up to that moment and will be going on at that moment.

We shall/will have been working at this problem for a month when you visit us a second time.

 

The Future Perfect Continuous in the Past

36. The formation of the Future Perfect Continuous in the Past.

1. The Future Perfect Continuous in the Past is formed by means of the Future Perfect in the Past of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle I of the notional verb.

2. In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.

Affirmative Interrogative
I should/would have been working He would have been working She would have been working We should/would have been working You would have been working They would have been working Should/Would I have been working? Would he have been working? Would she have been working? Should/Would we have been working? Would you have been working? Would they have been working?

 

Negative
I should/would not have been working He would not have been working She would not have been working We should/would not have been working You would not have been working They would not have been working  

3. The contracted affirmative forms are:

I'd have been working

He'd have been working

The contracted negative forms are:

I shouldn't have been working

He wouldn't have been working

4. The negative-interrogative forms are:

Should I not have been working? \ Shouldn't I have been working9

Would he not have been working? Wouldn't he have been working?

37. The use of the Future Perfect Continuous in the Past.

The Future Perfect Continuous in the Past denotes an action lasting during a certain period of time before a definite moment which was future from the point of view of the past.

I wondered how long they would have been packing by the time I returned.

( For detailed treatment see Chapter XVIII.)

 

Table of Tenses

  Present Past Future Future
    in the Past
Indefinite     I go to the theatre every week. I went to the theatre last week. I shall/will go to the theatre next week. I said I should/ would go to the theatre next week.
   
Continuous (Don't speak to him.) He is working. When I came, he was working. (Don't come at 8.) I shall/will 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 known him for two years. 1. I had read all the books by the 1st of April. 2. By 2005 I had known him for two years. 1. I shall/will have read all the books by the 1st of April. 2. By 2015 I shall/will have known him for twelve years. I said I should/ would have read all the books by the 1st of April.
Continuous Perfect 1. I have been reading the book for a week. 2. (I am very tired.) I have been reading a lot. 1. I had been reading the 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 May I shall/will have been reading the book for a fort night. I said that by the 1st of May I should/would have been reading the book for a fort night.

 

 

The Passive Voice

1. The formation of the Passive Voice.

The Passive Voice is formed by means of the auxiliary verb to be in the required form and Participle II of the notional verb.

(a) The Present, Past and Future Indefinite Passive are formed by means of the Present, Past and Future Indefinite of the auxiliary verb to be and Participle II of the notional verb.

Present Indefinite Passive

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