The Sunday News
As per reader’s request we go back to the use of tenses. Each of the six tenses has its own special uses. The present tense is used mainly to express an action or state of being that is occurring now. Examples: Irene and Thoko wait patiently for the bus. (present progressive). Irene and Thoko do wait for the bus patiently for the bus patiently. (present emphatic).
The present tense is also used to show customary or habitual action or state of being. To state a general truth – something that is always true. To summarise the plot or subject matter of a literary work (such use is called the literary present). To make a historical event seem current 9such use is called the historical present) and also to express future time. The past tense is used to express an action or state of being that occurred in the past but did not continue into the present.
Examples: I stayed at the library until closing time. (past) Note: a past action or state of being may also be shown in another way. Example: She used to collect stamps. The future tense is used to express an action or a state of being that will occur. The future tense is formed with will or shall and the verb’s base form. I will attend the Harare Agricultural Show in August. (future) The present perfect tense is used mainly to express an action or a state of being that occurred at some indefinite time in the past.
The present perfect tense always incudes the helping verb have or has. Examples: I have written to the head, but I have not received a reply. (present perfect). The future perfect tense is used to express an action or state of being that will be completed in the future before some other future occurrence. The future perfect tense always incudes will have or shall have. Examples: By the time I leave Harare, my letter will have arrived in Bulawayo. 9the letter’s arriving will occur before my leaving.
Special problems in the use of tenses. Sequence of tenses. Use tense forms carefully to show the correct relationship between verbs in a sentence. When describing events that occur at the same time, use verbs in the same tense. Examples: The bell rings, and the classroom empties. The bell rang, and the classroom emptied. (past tense).
When describing events that occur at different times, use verbs in different tenses to show the order of events. Examples: He plays football now, but he plat basketball in junior high school. (Because he is playing football now, the present tense form play is correct. Hos playing basketball occurred in the past and did not continue into the present; therefore, the past tense is correct. Debra mentioned that she had invited some of her neighbours to the party. 9Because Debra made the statement in the past, the past tense form mentioned is correct. She invited the neighbours before she made the statement; therefore, the past perfect form had invited is correct.
The tense you use depends on the meaning you want to express. Examples: I believe the own the local Sports Bar. (Both verbs are in the present tense to indicate that both actions are occurring now). I believe the owned the local Sports Bar. 9The change to the past tense in the second verb implies that they no longer own the Sports Bar.
Mary said that she worked at the textile firm. (Both verbs are in the past tense to indicate that both actions no longer occur. Mary said that she will work at the textile firm. The change in the second verb implies that Mary did not work at the textile firm when she made the statement but that she planned to work there.
Voice is the form a transitive verb takes to indicate whether the subject of the verb performs or receives the action. Transitive verbs may be in the active voice or the passive voice. When the subject of a verb performs the action, the verb is in the active voice. When the subject receives the action, the verb is in the passive voice. As you will see in the examples that follow, verbs in the active voice take objects, and verbs in the passive voice do not.
Active Voice: Joyce anchors the local evening news. (News is the direct object.) Passive Voice: The local evening news is anchored by Joyce. Active Voice: Henry took many of the photos in the yearbook. Passive Voice: Many of the photos in the yearbook were taken by Henry. Active Voice: The firefighters have extinguished the blazing fire. (Fire is the direct object). Passive Voice:: The blazing fire has been extinguished by the firefighters. Passive Voice: The fire has been extinguished.
From these examples, you can see how an active construction can become a passive construction. The object of the verb in the active voice becomes the subject of the verb in the passive voice. The subject of the verb in the active voice becomes an object of the preposition by. (As the last example shows, the prepositional phrase is not always necessary).
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