Stories Stories for Children

Understanding Tenses – Tell Time, Tell Tenses

Clocks time colors
Written by Uma Sharma

Sapna was studying at her table. She had to finish few worksheets in English language. She lived with her mother on the sea shore. She loved to play with her dog Benny on the shore. Everday after school she would go on the shore to play till dusk.

Her other love besides playing on the shore with Benny was learning. Sapna loved to study. She read all the books on environment, recycling, global warming. She was good in her academics. She loved science. To her it was a wonder to know how things work in our physical environment. She enjoyed history and culture. Her only weakness was English language. She found English a tricky language and trickiest of all she thought were tenses.

She often got confused in past and present tense. It was difficult to remember past simple and past progressive. In, Hindi there was no such thing as tenses. As Hindi was her first language, Sapna often thought in Hindi and then translated it into English. The tenses never fit this literal translation from Hindi to English.

She had a couple of worksheet on past simple and present simple and another worksheet on past progressive. She decided to take her mother’s help with tenses.

Sapna took her worksheets and went to her mother.

“ Mom I can’t finish these worksheets ,” cried Sapna.

“ What is the matter,” asked Mom.

“ These worksheets are difficult,” said Sapna.

“ What are they about,” asked Mom.

“ They are on tenses, and I can’t understand tenses,” replied Sapna.

“ What is there in tenses that you can’t understand?” asked Mom.

“ I can’t understand what should I use in present tense and what to use in past tense?” said Sapna.

“ It is simple, but let’s play a game. When I say a past tense of a word you add the present tense of the same word,” asked Mom.

“ Yes , let’s play,” said Sapna excitedly.

To the participants:

Let’s play the game with Sapna and her Mom and help Sapna finish her first worksheet.

Write the past tense words for these present tense words

Eat, sleep, get, weep, meet, keep

After playing the game Sapna’s mother asked her and explained to her the difference between past and present tense.

“ Did you like the game?” asked her mother.

“ Yes I did ,” replied Sapna.

“ Do you have any question?” asked her mother.

“ What does tenses signify?” asked Sapna.

“ Tenses signify time,” said her mother.

“ The past tense inform us that an event or action has happened in the past, present tense informs the present time, and future tense informs the event will happen in future,” said her mother.

“ What is the difference between past simple and past progressive tense?” asked Sapna.

“ Past simple informs us about something that has happened in the past, e.g I ate my dinner. Past progressive inform us about something happening for a period of time, e.g. I was eating my dinner when Raju came in,” replied her mother.

“ Can you do this exercise on progressive past tense on your own?” asked her mother.

“ I can try, but will like it if you would play the game again with me,” said Sapna.

Let us play the game with Sapna.

Write the past progressive for these words: play, eat, run, walk, talk

After the game Sapna’s mother asked her whether she was feeling better about usage of simple past and progressive past. Sapna told her mother that her confusion between the two was now resolved. She was confident that she could do her worksheet on her own.

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About the author

Uma Sharma

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