THE VERB (TENSES AND MOODS)
It is generally accepted that the word TIME stands for the concept with which all
mankind is familiar, divided into past, present and future. And, one must also underline
that it is something independent from language.
By TENSE we understand that correspondence between the form of the verb and our
concept of time.
ASPECT is the manner in which a verbal action is experienced or regarded. If the action
is complete, the simple/common/indefinite aspect is used. If it is in progress at a given
moment, the continuous/progressive/expanded aspect is used.
It must be shown that TIME is not the only concept rendered by the tense of the verb.
TENSE may also express the completeness or incompleteness of an action which is or
was still on its way.
1. THE SIMPLE PRESENT
I/you/we/they read Do I/you/we/they read?
He/she/it reads Does he/she/it read?
I/you/we/they do not read/don't read
He/she/it does not/doesn't read
1. to express eternal/general truths, or to make statements of general validity:
e.g. The sun rises in the East and sets in the West.
Wood floats on water.
2. to express repeated/habitual/permanent actions. Such actions are usually accompanied
by the adverbs: every day/week/month/year, ever, never, always, often, sometimes,
seldom, occasionally, usually, twice a week, etc.
e.g. The solicitor always helps a person who needs the assistance of a law for a certain
problem. (Avocatul nepledant intotdeauna il ajuta pe cel ce are nevoie de asistenta
juridica pentru o anumita problema.)
The exit polls suggest that the president faces a Congress with a narrow but hostile
Republican majority in both House and Senate. (Sondajul la urne arata ca presedintele se
confrunta cu un Congres republican nemajoritar, dar ostil, in Camera si in Senat.)
At every trial, the judge conducts the proceedings and points out the matters. (La
fiecare proces, judecatorul conduce actiunea si puncteaza problemele.)
I find it hard to believe that he does not want to appeal to the High Court of Justice.
(Imi vine greu sa cred ca nu vrea sa apeleze la Inalta Curte de Justitie.
What do you think of this barrister? (Ce crezi despre acest avocet pledant?)
3. in step-by-step instructions or demonstrations:
e.g. First, you listen to the prosecutor, then you cross-examine the witnesses(Mai
intai, il asculti pe procurer, apoi audiezi martorii)
2. THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS TENSE
FORM: the verb "to be"+VERB +ing
I am reading Am I reading?
You/we/they are reading Are you/we/they reading?
He/she/it is reading Is he/she/it reading?
I am not/I'm not reading
You/we/they are not/aren't reading
He/she/it is not/isn't reading
1. to express an action started before the present moment, which is in progress at the
moment of speaking and which will terminate in the future. This form of the verb
indicates that the duration of the action is limited. The feeling of immediate present is
often emphasized by "just" and "now":
e.g. Now, we are learning for our advanced civil law exam. (Acum, noi invatam pentru
examenul de drept civil aprofundat)
At this moment, The Court of Assizes is considering the facts which have been
presented. (In acest moment, Curtea cu Juri analizeaza faptele ce au fost prezentate.)
2. to express temporary actions: today, this week/month/year
e.g. This month she is taking legal action against two persons. (Luna aceasta ea da in
judecata doua personae.)
We always watch quiz games, but this week we are watching variety shows. (Noi
intotdeauna privim jocuri televizate, dar saptamana aceasta privim spectacole de
Verbs not used in their continuous aspect:
1. Verbs of feeling:. feel, hear, notice, see, smell, taste
e.g. The soup tastes delicious.
I can see the plane now.
This bar of soap smells wonderful.
However, the verbs "to smell", "to taste", "to feel" may be found in the continuous aspect
when they imply a voluntary action on the part of the subject:
e.g. I am smelling this bar of soap.
She is tasting the soup now.
Besides, the verb "to see" may also be used in the continuous aspect, but with different
meanings: to meet by appointment, to visit, to have hallucinations.
2. Verbs of mental activity: to agree, distrust, doubt, find, foresee, forget, guess, imagine,
know, mean, mind, remember, recognize, recollect, regard, suppose, trust, understand,
3. Verbs expressing wish: to desire, intend, want, wish.
4. Verbs expressing attitudes, feelings, emotional states: to abhor, adore, detest, dislike,
displease, like, love, hate, please, prefer etc.
5. Verbs expressing possession: belong, have, hold, keep, owe, own, possess.
6. Verbs expressing a state, a condition: to appear, to be, consist of, contain, differ,
deserve, equal, exist, resemble, seem, suit, etc.
7. Miscellaneous verbs: to compare, expect, matter, suffice
It is important to mention that the adverbs of frequency and indefinite time (always,
often, seldom, generally, ever, never, etc.) may be used with the continuous aspect,
denoting a modal charge, i.e. emotional charge (joy, admiration, irritation). Therefore,
MODALITY is the attitude of the speaker towards the communication.
e.g. You are always drinking and driving! ( I am angry at that person) = Intotdeauna
conduci in stare de ebrietate!
The Home Secretary is always buying old books and paintings! (Ministrul de Interne
intotdeauna cumpara carti si tablouri vechi!)
3. THE PAST TENSE SIMPLE
According to the way in which they form the Past Tense and the Past Participle, English
verbs are divided into regular and irregular.
Regular verbs are all those verbs that make the Past Tense and the Past Participle by
adding the suffix -ed to their Short Infinitives. This ending may be pronounced either /d/
after vowels and /b/, /g/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /v/, /z/, or /t/ after /k/, /p/, /s/, or /id/ after /t/ or /d/.
Irregular verbs are all those verbs that do not make the Past Tense and the Past Participle
by adding the suffix -ed, but have their own forms: to begin-began-begun; to give-gavegiven;
I/you/he/she/it/we/they thought Did I/you/he/she/it/we/they think?
I/you/he/shoe/it/we/they did not/didn't think
1.To express an action or state wholly completed at some moment or during some period
in the past. In fact, the Simple Past Tense is a narrative tense. In this case, a past tense
adverbial such as when, then, yesterday, last week, last month, last year, that day, the
other day, once, in 2005, ago, etc. occurs in the sentence:
e.g. Yesterday, she told us about the hereditary peerage during the course. (Ieri, la curs,
ne-a povestit despre aristocratia ereditara)
The mission turned out to be more difficult than expected. (Misiunea s-a dovedit a fi
mai dificila decat ne asteptam)
I read about this legislative body last year. (Anul trecut am citit despre acest organ
Did you try to talk to the plaintiff? (Ai incercat sa vorbesti cu reclamantul?
It is very important to point out that, if there is a past tense in the main clause, we have to
use a past tense in the main clause, too:
e.g. How did you know I was here? (Cum ai stiut ca sunt aici?)
The Counsel for the Prosecution tried to prove in court that the accused was lying.
(Avocatul acuzarii a incercat sa dovedeasca in fata curtii ca acuzatul minte.)
2. to express a past habit or a repeated action in the past;
e.g. Groups of neighbouring states often seemed to vote the same way. (Grupuri de
satate invecinate pareau adesea ca voteaza in acelasi fel.)
4. THE PAST TENSE CONTINUOUS
FORM: was/were + VERB + ing
I/he/she/it was thinking Was I/he/she/it thinking?
We/you/they were thinking Were we/you/they thinking?
I/he/she/it was not/ wasn't thinking
You/we/they were not/ weren't thinking
1. To express an action in progress at a certain moment in the past: at this time
yesterday/last year, by 5 o'clock yesterday, etc
e.g. The President of the House of Commons was speaking in front of the 630 members
at this time yesterday. (Presedintele Camerei Comunelor vorbea in fata celor 630 de
membri ieri,pe vremea aceasta)
He was hoping to be the first American re-elected president since the war. (Spera sa fie
primul presedinte american reales de la razboi si pana acum.)
2. to indicate that an action was going on (like a background) at a time when something
else, more important or more dramatic (the foreground) took place:
e.g. When I called her, she told me that she was talking to the defendant.(Cand am sunato,
mi-a spus ca vorbea cu inculpatul.)
3. to show that two or more actions were going on at the same time in the past:
e.g. The Public Prosecutor was presenting the facts while the two detectives were
listening very carefully. (Procurorul Public prezenta faptele, in timp ce cei doi detectivi
ascultau foarte atent.)
5. THE PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE
FORM: have/has + Past Participle (the 3rd form of the verb)
I/you/we/they have thought Have I/you/we/they thought?
He/she/it has thought Has he/she/it thought?
I/you/we/they have not/haven't thought
He/she/it has not/ hasn't thought
An action or state prior to the moment of speaking may be expressed both by the Past
Tense and by the Present Perfect. But, while the Past Tense presents the action without
referring to the present moment, the Present Perfect links that past action with the
present. This means that when we have the Past Tense, we think of the time when
something happened or we narrate a sequence of events at a given time. Therefore, the
Present Perfect is used:
1. when there is a result/consequence into the present:
e.g. I have not won the case and that is why I will not have too many clients from now
on. (Nu am castigat cazul si de aceea nu voi avea prea multi clienti de acum inainte)
It must be mentioned that the actions expressed by Past Tense Simple generally have
no any consequence into the present.
e.g. I did not win the case yesterday. (Nu am castigat cazul ieri)
2. when the action continues in the present and, perhaps, it will go on in the future:
e.g. Magistrates' Courts in England and Wales have had limited civil jurisdiction for
many years. (Curtile Magistratilor din Anglia si Tara Galilor au jurisdictie limitata de
3.when we are not interested in the moment of the action, but in the action proper:
e.g.The two voting systems in the American presidential election have been alluded to.
(S-a facut aluzie la cele doua sisteme de votare de la alegerile prezidentiale americane.)
They have been at the Claims Department. (Au fost la Biroul de Reclamatii.)
Generally, when the moment is mentioned, Past Tense Simple is used:
e.g. They were at the Claims Department when they worked at that company.
4. with uncompleted periods of time: today, this week/month/year:
e.g.The employer has filed a claim today. (Angajatorul a depus o reclamatie astazi)
It should be noted that Past Tense Simple always expresses completed periods of time:
e.g. I always read many plays when I was a student. (Intotdeauna am citit multe piese
cand eram student)
The adverbs used with The Present Perfect Simple are: just, already, always, yet, lately,
recently, up to now=so far=till now=until now, how long, today, this week/month etc.
6. PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS
I/you/we/they have been writing Have I/you/we/they been writing?
He/she/it has been writing Has he/she/it been writing?
I/you/we/they have not/haven't been writing
He/she/it has not/hasn't been writing
1. While the Present Perfect Simple implies that the attention is focused on the repetition
or on the completion of an action, the Present Perfect Continuous emphasizes the
duration, the continuity of the action in the present:
e.g. The employee has been waiting for the manager since 10 o'clock. (Angajatul il
asteapta pe patron de la ora 10.00.)
The Bosnian Muslims have been operating inside Sarajevo for a few months.
(Musulmanii bosniaci opereaza in interiorul Sarajevo-ului de cateva luni.)
2. Since the Present Perfect Continuous describes an action which is apparently
uninterrupted, it will not be employed when we mention the number of times a thing has
been done or the number of things that have been done:
e.g. He has been talking about his creditworthiness since 2 o'clock. (Vorbeste despre
credibilitatea sa de la ora 2.00.)
He has talked about his creditworthiness three times since 2 o'clock. ( A vorbit despre
credibilitatea sa de trei ori de la ora 2.00)
EXERCISES AND TEXTS:
Insert the correct tense of the verbs in brackets:
The closest most of us (1 - to get) to a daring dream is the one when we suddenly
(2 - to realise) that we (3 - to stand) stark naked in a crowded shopping-centre. So it (4
- to seem) rather unjust that some people can apparently will themselves into dreams of
breathtaking high adventure. The phenomenon (5 - to know) as lucid sleeping and (6 -
to mean) the sleeper (7 - to become) aware that he (8 - to dream) and can consciously
(9 - to participate) in and control his dream. It (10 - to compare) to (11 - to have) your
very own virtual reality in your head.
"People typically lucid-dream about things that they always (12 - to want) to do as
children, like flying," (13 - to say) Charles McCreery from the Psychophysical Institute
in Oxford, which (14 - to research) lucid dreams for thirty years.
Other favourite lucid dreams are (15 - to have) sex with a beautiful lover or (16 - to
perform) outrageous stunts, such as (17 - to leap) off cliffs for a thrill, safe in the
knowledge that you can come to no harm.
Aside from (18 - to be) a secret recreation, some argue that lucid dreaming can have
an impact in waking life. It even (19 - to creep) into therapists work. The theory is that,
(20 - to train) to lucid dreams, people who have self-confidence problems or phobias
can practice difficult situations in the safety of a lucid dream.
It also (21 - to use) to help alleviate nightmares, which (22 - to plague) one million
people in Britain. Dr. Delia Cushway, a clinical psychologist, (23 - to recount) the case
of one women she (24 - to see) who (25 - to become) lucid when she had a nightmare in
which two ferocious growling Doberman dogs (26 - to bar) her way and (27 - to
threaten) to attack. She simply (28 - to say) to herself: "This is OK, this is only a
dream!," and (29 - to push) past the dogs, (30 - to let) herself out of the door. In a
subsequent dream, one of the dogs (31 - to lie) down beside her and (32 - to put) its
head in her lap.
Some psychotherapists (33 - to warn) that (34 - to interfere) with a dream narrative
might rob you of the clues that dreams (35 - to throw) up, about what or who (36 - to
trouble) you in your life.
Interest in lucid dreaming as a subject of research (37 - to start) (38 - to grow) in the
last 15 or 20 years and scientists (39 - to develop) machines which allegedly (40 - to
trigger) lucid dreams.
(The Independent on Sunday)