Topic: Expressing time

These resources look at the grammatical marking of tense and aspect in the verb phrase, and how this helps express meanings related to time. The resources show how present tense and past tense are used to locate situations in time (He speaks, He spoke), and how the tenses combine with progressive aspect (He is/was speaking) and perfect aspect (He has/had spoken) to express further distinctions of meaning.

Tense and aspect in fiction

In this activity we will examine some short extracts from novels. The idea is to look at the tense and aspect forms used, and think about how they are used to unfold the action of the story.

Tense and aspect in fiction: Activity

It was after supper, and I was reading and smoking at the table. Algie was playing patience and drumming a tattoo with his fingers, and Gus was outside checking on the dogs. Suddenly he burst in. 'Chaps! Outside, quick!'

Tense in narrative

In this resource we will practise using tense consistently and think about the effect of using past tense versus present tense in a story.

Goals

  • Identify past tense and present tense forms.
  • Practise changing tense and using tense consistently.
  • Consider the effect of changing tense in a story.

Lesson Plan

Background

Tense in narrative: Activity 1

Activity 1: Tense consistency

Look at the following short passages. For each one, identify where the tense changes incorrectly, and then write a correct version which continues with the tense used at the start of the passage.

Tense in narrative: Activity 2

Activity 2: Past to present

The following extract uses past tense narration. Rewrite the extract, changing to present tense narration throughout. Take care to be consistent.

The dread came from nowhere. Without warning, my flesh began to crawl. I felt the hairs on my scalp prickle and rise. I couldn't see anything except the bear post and its cairn of stones, but my body braced itself. It knew.

Tense in narrative: Activity 3

Activity 3: Present to past

Now try reversing the process. This extract uses present tense narration, so rewrite it using past tense narration.

Panting, I fight my way out of the sleeping bag. The torch slips from my fingers and blinks out. Whimpering, I fall to my knees and grope for it. I can't find it. Can't see my hands in front of my face.

Again, compare the two versions. Does the change of tense have an effect?

Verb images

This lesson asks students to think about tense and aspect, what they mean, and how else we can communicate those meanings.

Goals

  • Identify verb tense and aspect. 
  • Explain the meaning of verb tense and aspect. 
  • Use multimodal literacy skills to present information from words as pictures. 

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will be describing some pictures using language, and then drawing some pictures to describe language.

Verb images: Activity

The girls are rehearsing a song.

Several boys were playing football.

Sally has studied French for three years.

John has been studying French for one hour.

 

Writing with tense and aspect

This lesson asks students to apply theirr understanding of tense, aspect, and time to structure passages of writing.

Goals

  • Arrange sentences in order based on tense and aspect in the sentences.
  • Practise ordering and re-ordering sentences in various ways using tense and aspect to convey the appropriate order of events.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will arrange a passage of writing and explore expressions of time in English.

Writing with tense and aspect: Activity 2

Here is the outline sequence of events (don’t forget that you can add more):

Aspect and tense

Look at the highlighted verb phrase in each example, then decide which category of tense and aspect to place it in.

Perfect or progressive aspect?

Decide whether the highlighted verb phrase is perfect aspect or progressive aspect?

Y6 GPaS Test: Preposition phrases, adverb phrases, and time

In each of the following examples, indicate whether time is expressed using a preposition phrase or an adverb phrase:

Y6 GPaS Test: Present or past tense?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted verb is in present or past tense:

Expressing time

Grammar is important for expressing information about time. It helps us to locate situations in the past, present or future, and to describe how situations unfold over time.

This is typically done by using different forms of the verb. For example:

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