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Grammar for Webheads

The following exercises have been created online in response to questions from Webheads students:

Subject - Verb inversions: Cases where subjects and verbs invert.

From a question on "by no means":

Here's an explanation of the present perfect in English:

Use of past vs. present perfect tense is a difficult distinction for students of English to master because the present perfect is unique to English. It doesn't exist with the same meaning in any languages I know (though Antonio says it exists in Spanish ...). Just as it's hard for English speakers to master subjunctive in Latin languages because we only have traces of it in English, it's hard for almost any native speaker of any other language to master the present perfect in English.

The present perfect brings some past event up to the present. It associates the past event with the present time. This could mean that its impact is still being felt in the present (the plane has just landed), or it's still going on (webheads have been meeting for over two years now).

For example, where a student wrote: Recently, I started work as a freelance translator

I changed this to 'Recently, I have started work ...'

However, the student's sentence is correct. She started this work at some time in the past. But by using the present perfect instead of past, it communicates that she is STILL doing this work.

Here's an interesting sentence from the writing of the same student:

* I've been to several European countries while I was in the U.K and Florida this summer.

Here, it would be correct to say, 'I've been to several European countries'. This means that from any time in the past up to now, I've done this. But the rest of her sentence fixes the time in the past. 'While I was in the UK and Florida' is a completed period of time, not connected to the present. So here, she has to use the past instead of present perfect:

I visited several European countries while I was in the U.K and Florida this summer.

Or, I was in several ... I went to several ... etc.

Does anyone know of any online grammar exercises that help students make this distinction? You could look at and see if you can find anything there. I know it's my web page, but I put it there as a resource. If anyone is interested in this topic, please use the resource to find exercises that are useful to you and let us know if the rest of us should know about them.

Michael has some grammar exercises. (urls Michael?)

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Grammar section last updated: May 14, 2001
Header material updated Oct 20, 2003 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0