Instructors looking to assist students in understanding tenses will benefit from developing verb tense worksheets for use in the classroom.
Students will benefit from the opportunity to immediately put the instruction into practice by creating their own sentences. Encourage creativity! Just because they are practicing syntax doesn't meant that they can't have a little fun along the way. Entertaining sentences that reflect each specific tense are just as pedagogically sound as dry, formulaic sentences.
The simple tenses make basic statements of fact about everyday activities, actions, or happenings. They are typically not used to discuss relationships that occur between two entities. The most important thing students should realize about the simple tenses is that they convey a concise writing style.
If students have a difficult time with repetition or readers of their prose have difficulty finding focus in their writing, they may benefit from consciously incorporating more simple tenses in their sentence construction. Be warned, however, that if the simple tenses are overused, a monotonous type of prose results. To be a successful writer, students should learn to incorporate simple tenses with the more complicated compound tenses.
The first thing to notice about the perfect tenses is the use of the verb have. These verb tenses accomplish different goals and therefore are used for different purposes. In general, the perfect tenses describe actions that have an ending point that occurs before a new action begins.
The most important signal of the progressive tense is the -ing form of the verb. The progressive tense describes an event that is occurring at the moment mentioned. These simple progressive tenses (as compared to the perfect progressive tenses mentioned below) are like snapshots. They convey information about the instant an action occurs.
The prefect progressive tenses are the most complicated tenses for students. Like the perfect tenses, the perfect progressive tenses refer to actions that continue at the moment in question, however they allow the writer to indicate more information about the beginning point or duration of the continuing action. The perfect progressive gives a picture of an event, but it is more than a snapshot. This tense allows the writer to express an action that occurred over a length of time.
When constructing verb tense worksheets, make sure students have enough time to process how the tenses are different. After each discussion of the above tenses, allow students time to create sentences that use the appropriate verb tenses. Some younger students, ESL students, or developing writers will struggle with the perfect progressive tenses. Allow those students to work up to that complicated tense slowly. It is more important for students to be able to construct grammatical sentences than to try to write in a tense that is unfamiliar to them and will confuse their readers.