Category Archives: Verbal

Metaphors of time and grammar

One of the most common EFL grammar lessons, especially at Beginner or Pre-Intermediate levels, is the ‘Present Continuous to Talk About Future Plans’ lesson. While this is an important usage for the present-in present and should be introduced at some … Continue reading

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Teaching tenses

This is how I often picture tenses for students. The secondary tense (on the right) construes some kind of change:

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Verbal Group 5 – finite tenses

The distinction between the finite tenses in the verbal group is, I think, one of recursive delicacy. But this is not to say that it may continue indefinitely. There are stop rules (where α = primary tense): Apart from α, … Continue reading

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Activity: Verbal group, discourse and Harry Potter

If we teach ‘the tenses’ separately, I think students might not get the interaction between them and how they are used in discourse for different effects. Here is an activity I’ve used with Upper Intermediate – Advanced students, though you could … Continue reading

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Verbal group 4: tense, discourse and trains.

When teaching the future tenses it’s very common to talk about ‘present tense as scheduled future’. For example, ‘The train leaves at 7.30′. Personally, however, I think this might be somewhat misleading. The present tense is the present tense. Importantly, … Continue reading

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Verbal group 3 – tense and discourse

Here is a picture of two people on a date: The language we use to represent the picture depends upon discourse choices. The picture may be represented as a series of completed events or, in other words, a story. In … Continue reading

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Verbal Group 2 – time and space

The tenses are usually presented as a time line where each tense can be named separately yet this is somewhat misleading, or “distorted” as H & M put it (p.345). I think it might be more useful to think in three-dimensional … Continue reading

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Verbal Group 1

The verbal group is the “expansion of a verb [and] consists of a sequence of words of the primary class of verb” functioning as Finite (if present) plus Predicator in the clause as exchange or Process in the clause as … Continue reading

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Sports commentary and tense choice

Usually when teaching tenses for EFL classes we focus on time as the key element that differentiates each one. We compare simple and continuous in terms of ‘usually’ and ‘now’. Recently, however, I’ve been trying to take a more discourse … Continue reading

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