Got this question:
Hi Julian! What a great voice! Your accent is very clear! I like this video a lot! My question: on a daily basis, when doing ordinary activities (like running errands, doing chores…) how many tenses do you think native speakers of English use to communicate? Thanks!
This is a good question.
This is something that’s easier to show you, so watch this:
In a nutshell:
- English only has three tenses: Past, present and future (technically only two in the grammatical sense).
- But these combine with the four “aspects” (simple, progressive, perfect, and perfect progressive) to make a total of twelve categories.
- It probably won’t surprise you that native speakers don’t use these evenly (simple present is always the most common at about 60~70% of verbs, then the simple past at about 20% – so a combined 80~90%).
This is all just rough.
But you get the idea.
So basically we can say that native speakers use the simple forms 80% of the time, then the present forms… and from there it’s all down hill.
… that doesn’t mean people never use the other grammatical tenses.
They certainly do.
Every very tense is used somewhere
Next week I will have been doing the EES programme for 3 years.
When you need the future perfect progressive, well, you need it. No matter how rare it is relatively speaking.
But the point is…
The way speakers actually use the tenses is clearly extremely imbalanced. And so the approach you take to learning the patterns of language (including tenses) needs to take this into account. What most people do is actually backwards, and it’s, well, not very good.
This is where what I call…
“Example Based Learning” comes in.
I talk about this in detail in Master English FAST in chapter 6.
Will have been a language punk for 10 years soon.
P.S. Don’t forget…