Common mistakes in IELTS – Use of the wrong tense (Part 2)
111. Using the past simple tense after to + the infinitive
Don’t say: He tried to kicked the ball away.
✓ Say: He tried to kick the ball away.
Don’t use the simple past tense alter to.
112. Using the past simple tense after an auxiliary verb, instead of the past participle
Don’t say: I’ve forgot to bring my book.
✓ Say: I’ve forgotten to bring my book.
Use the past participle (and not the past tense) with the auxiliary verb have an its parts
113. Using must or ought to to express a past obligation
Don’t say: You ought to come yesterday.
✓ Say: You ought to have come yesterday.
Or You should have come yesterday.
Don’t use must and ought to as past tenses. To express a past duty (which wasn’t done) use the perfect infinitive without to after ought to or should, or expressions such as had to, was obliged to.
Note: In indirect speech use must and ought to as past tenses: He said he must do it.
114. Using the present perfect instead of the simple past tense
Don’t say: I have seen a good film yesterday.
✓ Say: I saw a good film yesterday.
Use the simple past tense (and not the present perfect! for an action complete in the past at a stated time.
Note: When a sentence has a word or a phrase denoting past time, like yesterday, last night, last week, last year, then, ago. etc., always use simple past tense.
115. Using the simple past tense instead of the present perfect
Don’t say: I saw the Parthenon of Athens.
✓ Say: I have seen the Parthenon of Athens.
If we are speaking of the result of a past action rather than of the action, we must use the present perfect tense. When somebody says, I have seen Parthenon, he or she d not thinking so much of the past act of seeing it.
116. Using the simple past tense with a recent action, instead of the present perfect
Don’t say: The dock struck.
✓ Say: The clock has struck.
If we are waking of an action just finished, we must use the present perfect instead of the simple past terse. For example, immediately after the dork strikes, we shouldn’t say “The dock struck”, but “The dock has struck.”
117. Using the simple present instead of the present perfect
Don’t say: I’m at this school two years.
✓ Say: I’ve been at this school two years.
Use the present perfect (and not the simple present) for an action begun in the past and continuing into the present. “I’ve been at this school two years.” means “I‘m still here.”
118. Using the simple present instead of the present perfect after a since clause of time
Don’t say: Since he came, we’re happy.
✓ Say: Since he came, we’ve been happy.
The verb after a since clause of time is generally in the present perfect tense.
119. Using the simple present instead of the present continuous
Don’t say: Look! Two boys fight.
✓ Say: Look! Two boys are fighting.
Note: We also use the present continuous for the future when something is pre-arranged or expected with some certainty –> Loma Is arriving tomorrow at six. Tom and I are eating out tonight.
120. The continuous form of the tense misused
Don’t say: Tm understanding the lesson now.
✓ Say: I understand the lesson now.
As a rule. verbs denoting a state rather than an act have no continuous forms, like understand, know, believe, like, love, belong, prefer, consist, mean, hear, see, etc.
Use of certain tenses
1. Use the Simple Present for habitual or frequent actions, and use the Present Continuous for actions taking place at the present moment.
Examples: I read the newspaper every day. I’m reading an English book (now).
2. Use the Simple Past when a definite time or date is mentioned, and use the Present Perfect when no time is mentioned.
Examples: I did my homework last night. I’ve done my homework (so I can watch TV – or whatever – now).
3. Express habitual or repeated actions in the past either by the Simple Past or by the phrase used to.
Example: I went (or I used to go) to the cinema every week last year.
Note: Don’t use the Past Continuous (I was going) for a past habitual action, but for an action in the past continuing at the time another action took place –> I was going to the cinema when l met him.
4. The only correct tense to use is the Present Perfect if the action began in the past and is still continuing in the present.
Example: I’ve been in this class for two months.
5. Be very careful not to use the future but the Present tense in a clause of time or condition, if the verb in the main clause is in the future.
Example: I will/’ll visit the Parthenon when I go (or if I go) to Athens.