Wednesday, January 17, 2007

juOnGrammar: Past EmphaticTense

Who doesn’t need a refresher on English grammar? My work as an editor exposed me to grammar pitfalls that most English-speaking Filipinos suffer from. I’m sorry but we editors can’t help but edit everything we read or hear. This is going to be a series that will hopefully help a lot of you guys to improve your English grammar competency. Of course, grammar is not everything. But if we want to make a good impression, grammar can make or break us.

Do you know what is wrong with these examples?

I did left my number.
He didn’t asked.

The italicized verb phrases are in the past emphatic tense. However, the form is incorrect. When you use the auxiliary verb did in a verb phrase to express the past emphatic tense, the main verb should be in the simple present tense or base form. Here is the correct way of expressing the two examples above:

I did leave my number.
He didn’t ask.

What the hell is the past emphatic tense anyway? We are all familiar with the basic or simple forms of the six tenses (past, present, future, present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect) and their progressive forms (present progressive, past progressive, future progressive, present perfect progressive, past perfect progressive, and future perfect progressive). The emphatic form is the third form of verb tense. But unlike the basic and progressive forms, the emphatic form only applies to the present and past tenses. As its name suggests, the emphatic tense is used when you want to stress or underscore your point.

Yeah I know. Verb tense has got to be one of the trickiest lessons in English grammar. But the rule of thumb is that when you are in doubt, the safest to do is to stick with the basic or simple tense.

You wouldn't know unless somebody tells you. Now you know. Email me if you want specific grammar pitfalls discussed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

grammar-shrammar!!! But, I do agree, grammar can make or brake you. I speak American English, so grammar is not high priority. As long as you are able to convey your thoughts coherently. As we say here in the midwest "it don't matter".