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Doing English

Got this 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?

Oscar Aldomá

This is a good question.

This is something that’s easier to show you, so watch this:

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 downhill.

Of course…

… that doesn’t mean people never use the other grammatical tenses.

They certainly do.

Every 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.

You can check out the first Chapter of MEF here, for free.


Julian Northbrook
Will have been a language punk for 10 years soon.

P.S. All language follows this 80/20 pattern – and my best selling book, Master English FAST shows you have to identify it.