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Describing language
Describing language

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Week 4: Verbs 2: how verbs work together


A signpost with two signs. The top one says ‘Future’ and points to the right, while the bottom on says ‘Past’ and points to the left.
Figure 1 Past or future?

You’ve looked at verbs of various different kinds, and the kind of things they express. They can tell us about actions, states of mind, qualities, changes and other things. This is all very useful and informative, but we want to know more than just how to spot different verbs. In order to accurately describe language, we need to understand who or what is doing the verb, whether anyone or anything else is involved, and whether we are talking about the past, present or future.

The issue of verbs and time is the main topic for this week. You’ll look at how we deal with this in English, and compare how it’s done in some other languages too.

By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • understand the difference between present and past tense
  • compare how verbs work in different languages.