Top 5 Most Useful English Tenses for Speaking
If you really want to improve your English, no matter what level you currently are, you need to master the basics. If you aren’t speaking simple sentences and asking simple questions perfectly, you won’t sound fluent. You need to learn useful english first.
My good friend from Belgium speaks more than 5 languages fluently (French, English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Dutch). He may disagree and say that he’s not fluent, but when I hear him speak English (not his native language), he almost never makes basic mistakes! He sounds absolutely fluent.
I have taught many “high level” English students who don’t use the simple present tense correctly! They are intelligent students, but they don’t sound fluent in English, because they haven’t mastered the basics!
There are lots of different English tenses to know, but there are only 5 that you need to know well in order to sound fluent. I want all of my students master these 5 basic English tenses because when they do, they will speak English so much more naturally and comfortably. Probably 90% of exercises and discussion questions (not related to a specific grammar function) can be answered with one of these 5 tenses.
The Top 5 Most Useful English Tenses
- Past tense
- Present tense
- Present Continuous tense
- Future tense
- Present Perfect tense
If you haven’t perfected your ability to speak these 5 useful English tenses, then I recommend you begin practicing speaking simple questions and answers using these tenses. Boring English textbooks make it seem like English is a complicated mix of subjects, verbs, objects, predicate and subordinate clauses. Oh no! Don’t worry – it’s not. English is simple. There are only questions and sentences. That’s it! Practice asking questions and speaking sentences and you’ll be fine.
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Perfecting the basics is much more important than knowing advanced English grammar. If you can perfect these five basic tenses in English, you will be able to speak and practice English in everyday life!
Speaking and Listening
Each section contains an explanation of how to make and use each tense. These explanations are meant to be a review of the tense before the main practice. You should already have a basic understanding of each of these tenses.
Following the explanation are videos with example questions, sentences, and conversations. Use these videos as listening and speaking practice. Repeat after me in the questions and sentences videos. Speak out loud! This is very important. Active learning is much more effective than passive learning. Actively practice speaking your English.
Reading and Writing
Each section also contains a handout that you can download and print for your own use. Practice your reading for each tense. Also, use these handouts to help you make your own sentences and questions in English. You should write down your OWN questions and sentences to practice using each tense. Don’t simply copy the examples. Try different verbs, different nouns, and different time phrases. The examples are designed to help you understand and make a variety of different questions and sentences in English. Use the handouts to help you!
Watch the videos as many times as you would like. Go back and practice speaking after me to help your pronunciation. Actively learning is the best way!
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