User:Robbiemuffin/Using English Grammar Graphics

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I've generated graphics for english grammar -- as I learned it. There is a bit of a divide between people who want a system that maps cleanly to grammar in linguistics in general and grammar that maps well to the way we think in english. We tend to think very strictly in 3 tenses: past, present, and future. But our grammar has only two absolute tenses (in the standard sense): past, and non-past.

I've done up these images in a consistent fashion to provide visual cues to grammatical tenses as one would expect coming from the perspective of english grammar. A good reference is: Verb tenses, and is the standard form taught in schools (at least it was in my youth). There are differences for now in that: the images here sometimes generalize many usages (see the habitual states), the use of "time" simple instead of simple "time" in the tense names, and the particular choice of continuous versus progressive in the tense names.


Usage[edit]

For the most part you can just include the images like normal. It is useful to note the name of the image when you include it though. For consistency, it would be best if these images were only called when associated with the usage for which they were drawn up.

An example:

the Preterite is a past tense generally similar to the Simple Past. So it would make sense to use the Past Simple image. Likewise the Present Perfect Progressive is usually best represented with the Present Continuous image, however in some coverage of the topic a binary relation between "Present Continuous" and "Present Perfect Progressive" is made, so that Present perfect progressive started in the unspecified past, while Present continuous started in a definite point in the past. (Very much in the fashion of the binary relation between the Future Perfect and the Non-Continuous sense of the Future Perfect.) This use of the Present perfect progressive would need a different image, like this one:

the Present perfect progressive

(which I've just now drawn up from the templates — please feel free to use the templates if you need to!)

Editing / Derivative work[edit]

see Image:EGG shells grammar.svg for an editable template, ready to go in any vector editor. It contains both Enpanded and unexpanded versions of most text.

Meet the Tenses[edit]

Here are the graphics, divided by the time when the principle action occurs:

The Past tenses[edit]

EGG Past simple.svg


transcluded from User:Robbiemuffin/Using English Grammar Graphics/Past tense


Past Simple[edit]

English's preterite — usually called its simple past or, somewhat loosely, its past-tense form — is generally formed by adding -ed or -d to the verb's plain form (bare infinitive), sometimes with some spelling modifications:
  • He planted corn and oats.
  • They studied grammar. (as a single event in the past)
the During sense of the Past Simple
  • I ate breakfast late this morning.
  • How long did you wait for them?
the Habitual sense of the Past Simple
  • People were much more musically inclined before television.
  • Did you play the piano when you were young?
  • I used to play guitar. (compare with "They studied grammar" above)


Past Continuous[edit]

The construction of a past continuous is similar to the present continuous tense, be it that it has a past simple form of 'to be' instead of a present simple form preceding the present participle.

An example of a past continuous inside a sentence would be 'I was painting the house.' There's the past simple form of 'to be' in the finite position (was), with the present participle of 'to paint' (painting) following it.

the Habitual sense of the Past Continuous
  • She was always a pretty girl.
  • I didn't like them because they were always picking fights.

note this is the same Image:EGG_Past_simpleHabitual.svg see the Habitual sense of the Past simple v. the Habitual sense of the Past Continuous


Past Perfect[edit]

There are generally two types of pluperfect, corresponding to the two types of perfect:
  • He saw that the door had opened, and children were running through it.
  • He had risen early that morning and had drunk coffee earlier than usual.
  • How long have you been in line?
  • They had talked for an hour before they knew each other's names.

note this is the same Image:EGG_Past_continuous.svg see the Past continuous v. the Past Perfect Continuous


Present Perfect[edit]

transcluded from User:Robbiemuffin/Using English Grammar Graphics/Present Perfect

This is a Present Tense which is wholly in the past.

When presenting this information to language learners, it is presented as a present tense. Many people logically categorize this in the past tense however. In the lens of grammar in general (and not english grammar in particular), English has only two tenses: past and non-past. Present Perfect is clearly not non-past tense.

  • The boy has seen the car. (Emphasis is on the present state of the boy, resulting from the fact that he saw the car.)
the During sense of the Present Perfect
  • I have left Argentina for now.
  • I have had a cold for two weeks.
  • The earth has had humans on it for four million years.


The Present tenses[edit]

EGG Present simple.svg


transcluded from User:Robbiemuffin/Using English Grammar Graphics/Present tense


Present Simple[edit]

  • He has a passport with him.
  • I'm busy right now.
the Near-Future sense of the Present Simple
  • The full moon is tonight.
  • What time is your flight?
the Habitual sense of the Present Simple
This sense is for facts, recurrent events, and the like.
  • I play tennis.
  • Cat's like milk.


Present Continuous[edit]

  • I am sitting.
  • I am studying to become a doctor.
the Near-Future sense of the Present Continuous
  • Is he visiting his parents next weekend?
  • I am not going to the party tonight.

note this is the same Image:EGG_Present_simpleNearFuture.svg image

the Habitual sense of the Present Continuous
This sense is for facts, recurrent events, and the like.
  • She is always coming to class late.
  • He is constantly talking. I wish he would shut up.
  • I don't like them because they are always complaining.

note this is the same Image:EGG_Present_simpleHabitual.svg



Present Perfect[edit]

transcluded from User:Robbiemuffin/Using English Grammar Graphics/Present Perfect

This is a Present Tense which is wholly in the past.

When presenting this information to language learners, it is presented as a present tense. Many people logically categorize this in the past tense however. In the lens of grammar in general (and not english grammar in particular), English has only two tenses: past and non-past. Present Perfect is clearly not non-past tense.

  • The boy has seen the car. (Emphasis is on the present state of the boy, resulting from the fact that he saw the car.)
the During sense of the Present Perfect
  • I have left Argentina for now.
  • I have had a cold for two weeks.
  • The earth has had humans on it for four million years.


The Future tenses[edit]

EGG Future simple.svg


transcluded from User:Robbiemuffin/Using English Grammar Graphics/Future tense


Future Simple[edit]

In normal use, it expresses a future event. It includes a continuous-like form (are doing/will do) which nonetheless still expresses an event wholly contained in the future.
  • I will not do all the housework myself!
  • We are going to the movies.
  • I will be late to work today.
  • I won't tell anyone.


Future Continuous[edit]

  • Are you going to be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight?
  • Yes, I will be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight.


Future Perfect[edit]

  • You will have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U.S.
  • How many countries are you going to have visited by the time you turn 50?
the Non-Continuous sense of the Future Perfect
on a personal note, I have no idea why this distinction 
is drawn, it is so fragile.

The Non-Continuous sense (contrast with Future Perfect Continuous) of the Future perfect is just like the general sense, except that it implies a definite beginning prior to the now of the sentence. In some sense, all sentences imply a definite beginning and end (try creating a timeless phrase), but here we exclude durations that go to the beginning of their context (my age, the history of mankind, the age of the earth, the age of the universe). For example:

  • I will have been in London for six months by the time I leave.

but not:

  • I will have been to every continent before I die. (excluded because the definite beginning is the beginning of the context: my life)


Future Perfect Continuous[edit]

The dotted line in this image details the point after which the continued event is instantiated.
  • He will have been jogging for over an hour before he is finished.
  • She is going to have been working at that company for three years when it finally closes.


See also[edit]

With the tenses as presented on this page you could construct an english grammar chart which would be functionally equivalent to any other english grammar chart for natives. For the linguistic sense of grammar, or for L2 learners, there are different requirements:

Other Linguistics grammar topics: