Grammar

As for all languages, studying the English language means studying some basic grammar rules. On this page you can find videos providing a short explanation of the most important rules.

  1. the present tenses: when to use a present simple or continuous and how to form these tenses
  2. the past tenses: when and how to use a past simple of continuous

1. The present tenses

Although both tenses are used to talk about the present, there is a clear difference between the two.

A present simple is used to talk about things that happen regularly: a habit, a job or a general truth (something that is always true).
Eg: ‘I am a teacher: I teach history.’ – present simple: this teacher says that in the present, his/her job is teaching.That doesn’t mean that the teaching is happening at this moment.

The present simple is formed like this: subject + bare infinitive (= INF without ’to’)
! Pay attention to the third person singular!

+?
I workI do not workDo I work?
you workyou do not workDo you work?
he/she/it workshe/she/it does not workDoes he/she/it work?
we workwe do not workDo we work?
you workyou do not workDo you work?
they workthey do not workDo they work?

A present continuous is used to talk about things that are going on right now.
Eg: ‘I can’t answer my phone right now: I am teaching.’ – present continuous: this person cannot answer the phone, because he/she is in the middle of teaching right now. That doesn’t mean that teaching is his/her job or habit (maybe it is just a one time thing), but the action of teaching is going on right this very moment.

The present continuous is formed like this: subject + present simple of ’to be’ + ING-from (= gerund)

+?
I am workingI am not workingAm I working?
you are workingyou are not workingAre you working?
he/she/it is workinghe/she/it is not workingIs he/she/it working?
we are workingwe are not workingAre we working?
you are workingyou are not workingAre you working?
they are workingthey are not workingAre they working?

2. The past tenses

Both tenses are used to talk about a period that is completely over at the moment of speaking – the past. However, in the past simple the emphasis is on the action itself, while the past continuous stresses the duration of the action.