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Sunday, November 19, 2006

He runs, he is running, he ran

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Verb tenses.

I am very impressed with my brother. It appears that he has not smoked away all of his common sense, after all.

He has pointed out that half of my post about the penguin movie is written in the past tense, as if we were finished watching it, and half of it is written in the present, as if we were continuing to watch it. As if it was haunting me in my dreams, constantly forcing me to re-live the nightmare.

He is quite right. I can only guess that this movie must have shaken me more than I thought. So this is a good time for a refresher course in verb tenses.

Simple Present: Use this for present actions:

The penguin Sanhedrin is running him out of town right now.

You can also use it for habitual actions:

They run him out of town every time he comes back. In fact, that appears to be their main purpose in the movie. They are probably plotting to run him out of town again.

Wait a minute! I was right! This IS a proper use of the verb "to run"! Whew, I thought I might be losing my touch. Thank heavens.

But wait! Although this particular verb was used correctly, I can see that I erred in several other places. Examples #3 and #4 are clearly wrong. "Denies", "walks" and "try" are simple present: considering the context, they ought to be in the simple past.

Simple Past: Use this for completed actions that are not continuous:

His girlfriend walked out on him three times.

They all tried to kill him.

You see, this is where I erred. (Simple past: Little Miss Know-It-All's errors are definitely NOT continuous.) I am not sure how this happened. I am going to have to do a complete review of my protocols and procedures. Actually, this should probably be done by an external contractor to make sure there is no political influence. This will be a transparent process and results will be reported to the public. The first step will be to find a contractor who is qualified to conduct this sort of review. It definitely cannot be done by someone who puts commas before quotes (this isn't a narrative!), who uses "Sanhedrin" like a proper noun (it's THE Sanhedrin, duh), or who puts a space and a capital letter after an ellipsis. Good heavens, finding someone who's qualified is going to be a chore.

Present Perfect: Use this for actions that begin in the past and continue into the present:

I've been an insufferable know-it-all for many years.

My brother's been just as bad as me throughout that entire time.

Future: Use this tense when you are writing about something that's not happening now, but will happen in the future. There are three ways to use the future tense:

Little Miss Know-It-All is going to remember this treachery. She is writing again tomorrow, and her brother will be sorry.

Present Perfect Progressive: This might be my favourite verb tense. Oh, and the Mafia's favourite, too. It means that an action started in the past and is still happening:

I have been quite good about not posting embarrassing pictures of my brother.

Or maybe my favourite is the future conditional:

Future Conditional: Use this to talk about imaginary situations in the future:

It would be a pity if that had to change for some reason.


Anonymous said...

What a handsome guy!