Bill's Easy Grammar
Present Perfect

The present perfect tense has a number of uses.

1 We use it to talk about experience.
I’ve worked in 6 different countries.
Have you ever been to Australia?
She’s won many awards for her books.
When these things happened is not important – the focus is on the action/state, not when it happened.

NB If we say when we had the experience, we must use the past simple.
I’ve visited Russia several times.
BUT I visited Russia for the first time in 1992.
We can never use the present perfect with a time in the past.
I have been to Spain in 2002.

2 We also use the present perfect to talk about things that are unfinished – unfinished states and unfinished time periods.
I’ve known him since I was 11. (unfinished state)
I met him when I was 11. I still know him now. The present perfect is acting as a bridge between the past and the present.
I’ve had this watch for almost thirty years.
We’ve lived here since I was a boy.
She’s been to the cinema three times this week. (unfinished time period)
This week isn’t finished yet – she may go to the cinema again.
We’ve already had two holidays this year.
I’ve eaten too much today.

3 A third use of the present perfect is to show the present result of a past action
I’ve lost my keys.
He lost his keys some time in the past but the result – he can’t get into his house – is in the present.
John’s broken his leg and he can’t go on holiday.
A storm has blown down the telephone lines. We’re stuck here!

Past tense

There are two tenses in English – past and present.

The past tense in English is used:
to talk about the past
to talk about hypotheses – things that are imagined.
for politeness.

There are four past tense forms in English:

Past simple:I worked
Past continuous: I was working
Past perfect:I had worked
Past perfect continuous:   I had been working

We use these forms:
to talk about the past:
He worked at McDonald’s. He had worked there since July..
He was working at McDonald’s. He had been working since July.

to refer to the present or future in conditions:
He could get a new job if he really tried.
If Jack was playing they would probably win.
and hypotheses:It might be dangerous. Suppose they got lost.
I would always help someone who really needed help.
and wishes:I wish it wasn’t so cold.

In conditions, hypotheses and wishes, if we want to talk about the past, we always use the past perfect:
I would have helped him if he had asked.
It was very dangerous, What if you had got lost?
I wish I hadn’t spent so much money last month.

We can use the past forms to talk about the present in a few polite expressions:  Excuse me, I was wondering if this was the train for York.
I just hoped you would be able to help me.

Modal Verb Tutorial

Modals are special verbs which behave very irregularly in English.
We use modal verbs to show if we believe something is certain, probable or possible (or not). We also use modals to do things like talking about ability, asking permission, making requests and offers, and so on.

Modal verbs are special verbs which behave very differently from normal verbs. Here are some important differences:

1. Modal verbs do not take "-s" in the third person.
He can  speak Chinese.
She should  be here by 9:00.

2. You use "not" to make modal verbs negative, even in Simple Present and Simple Past.
He should not be late.
They might not come to the party.

3. Many modal verbs cannot be used in the past tenses or the future tenses.
He will can go with us. Not Correct
She musted study very hard. Not Correct

Common Modal Verbs:

MustOught to
Will   Would

Modal Exercise 1
Can , Could , Have to , Must , Might and Should

Modal Exercise 2
Have to and Must

Modal Exercise 3
Might , Must and Should . Afterwards, you can repeat the exercise using Could , Have to and Ought to

Modal Exercise 4
Couldn't and Might not

Modal Exercise 5
Have got to , Had Better , May and Shall

Modal Exercise 6
Could , Might , Should and Would

Modal Forms  Modal verbs can be used in a variety of different forms.

Modal Simple
I could swim at the beach.

Modal Continuous
I could be swimming at the beach right now.

Modal Perfect
I could have swum at the beach yesterday.

Modal Perfect Continuous
I could have been swimming at the beach instead of working in the office.

Passive Modal Simple
The room should be cleaned once a day.

Passive Modal Continuous
The room should be being cleaned now.

Passive Modal Perfect
The room should have been cleaned yesterday.

Passive Modal Perfect Continuous
The room should have been being cleaned but nobody was there.

Irregular Verbs List

This is a list of some irregular verbs in English. Of course, there are
many others, but these are the more common irregular verbs.

Base Form   Past Simple             Past Participle

awake awoke awoken
be was, were been
beat     beat   beaten
become      became     become
begin   began        begun
bend    bent     bent
betbet       bet
bidbid       bid
bite      bit bitten
blow    blew     blown
break  broke   broken
bring   broughtbrought
broadcast  broadcast   broadcast
build    built      built
burn     burned/burnt      burned/burnt
buy      bought bought
getgotgot (sometimes gotten)

“My friends and I” vs. “My friends and me” vs. “Me and my friends”

When should you use "I" vs. "me" in English sentences?

The words "I" and "me" both refer to yourself. You decide which one to pick based on how they're being used in the sentence. Usually it's easy to decide which one to use:
I like it!
She hit me.
Give it to me.

You use "I" as the subject of a sentence, and "me" as the object. In most sentences, that means that "I" comes before the verb and "me" comes after it.
Sometimes it's a little harder to know which one to use. Here are some of those situations:


She's better than ___.
In everyday spoken English, the most common answer is "me":
She's better than me.

In formal English, there's actually a lot of debate. Some people say that it's supposed to be "I", because it's like you're combining two sentences:
She's better than I (am).

Other people say that the common form "me" is correct. So it's really your decision which to use in formal English. I'd say "better than me" is the laid-back person's choice, and "better than I" is better for more conservative people.
Talking about multiple people (in theory):

Luis and ___ aren't coming.
Lori sent Jane and ___ a card last Christmas.

There's a lot of confusion even for native English speakers about whether to use "I" or "me" in sentences that are about you plus another person. First let's learn the formal grammatically correct version, and then we'll learn about what people actually say.

The easy way to figure out whether to use "I" or "me" in grammatically correct English is to take away all of the other people:
I am not coming. » Luis and I are not coming.
Lori sent me a card. » Lori sent Jane and me a card.

Here are some more examples of each:
Shoshanna, the kids, and I took a train up to Boston for the weekend.
You and I are so similar.
They've always liked Kazu and me.
A: Who'd they send it to?
B: James and me.

One other note: the rule for correct English is that you should come last in the list. So it's "Jane and me", not "me and Jane".

Talking about multiple people (in practice)
In reality, a lot of English speakers don't know or care about the rules above. Instead, a lot of people use mostly "me" or "I"
A lot of people only use "me":
Me and Luis aren't coming.
Lori sent me and Jane a card last Christmas.

As you see in the examples, it's also common to put "me" first in the list.
On the other hand, there are some people who use only "I" like this:
Luis and I aren't coming.
Lori sent Jane and I a card last Christmas.

People do this to seem more intelligent and correct. It's a kind of over-correction: they know that "Me and Luis" as the subject is incorrect, so they assume that "me and Jane" as the object is also incorrect.

So here's my advice. Memorize these three sentences:
1.Me and Luis aren't coming.
2.Luis and I aren't coming.
3.Lori sent Jane and me a card.
The first one is for casual spoken English. The second one is for formal English. The last one is good in all situations.

‘Who’ or ‘whom’?

There’s a continuing debate in English usage about when you should use who and when to use whom. According to the rules of formal grammar who should be used in the subject position in a sentence, while whom should be used in the object position, and also after a preposition. For example:

Who made this decision? [here, who is the subject of the sentence]
Whom do you think we should support? [here, whom is the object of support]

To whom do you wish to speak?[here, whom is following the preposition to]
Some people do still follow these rules but there are many more who never use whom at all. The normal practice in current English is to use who in all contexts, i.e.:

Who do you think we should support?
Who do you wish to speak to?

Who, Whom, Whose

Subjects, Objects and Possessive Forms

To understand how to use "who," "whom," and "whose," you first have to understand the difference between subjects, objects, and possessive forms.

Subjects do an action:
He loves movies.
She goes to school.
We enjoy Chinese food.

Objects receive an action:
The teachers like him.
Thomas knows her.
The actor smiled at us.

Possessive forms tell us the person something belongs to:
His bike is broken.
I like her new book.
The teacher graded our homework.

"Who" is a Subject Pronoun
"Who" is a subject pronoun like "he," "she" and "we" in the examples above. We use "who" to ask which person does an action or which person is a certain way.

Who made the birthday cake?
Who is in the kitchen?
Who is going to do the dishes?

"Whom" is an Object Pronoun
"Whom" is an object pronoun like "him," "her" and "us." We use "whom" to ask which person receives an action.

Whom are you going to invite?
Whom did he blame for the accident?
Whom did he hire to do the job?

"Whose" is a Possessive Pronoun
"Whose" is a possessive pronoun like "his," "her" and "our." We use "whose" to find out which person something belongs to.

Whose camera is this?
Whose dog is barking outside?
Whose cell phone keeps ringing?

"Who," "Whom" and "Whose" in Indirect Questions
The sentence below contains an example of an indirect question:
I don't know whom he invited.

Such sentences usually start with a phrase such as: "I am not sure" or "He doesn't know" or "We don't care." Just ignore the first part of the sentence and look at the indirect question when deciding whether to use "who," "whom" or "whose." Ask yourself if the indirect question requires a subject, object, or possessive form.

He doesn't know who the boss of the company is. SUBJECT OF THE INDIRECT QUESTION
I don't care whom you invite. OBJECT OF THE INDIRECT QUESTION
She isn't sure whose car that is. "WHOSE" SHOWS POSSESSION OF CAR.

"Who," "Whom" and "Whose" in Adjective Clauses
The sentence below contains an example of an adjective clause:
I know the man who won the contest.

Adjective clauses are used to describe a noun in the main sentence. In the example above, the adjective clause tells us about "the man." Just ignore the main sentence and look at the adjective clause when deciding whether to use "who," "whom" or "whose." Ask yourself if the adjective clause requires a subject, object, or possessive form.

We knew the actress who starred in the movie. SUBJECT OF ADJECTIVE CLAUSE
They hired the man whom we interviewed last week. OBJECT OF ADJECTIVE CLAUSE
She knew the family whose house we bought. "WHOSE" SHOWS POSSESSION OF HOUSE.

"Whom" Less Common

The form "whom" is becoming less and less common in English. Many native English speakers think "whom" sounds outdated or strange. This trend is particularly common in the United States. Especially when combined with prepositions, most people prefer to use "who" as the object pronoun. To most native English speakers, the examples below sound quite natural.

Who did you come to the party with?
I don't know who he gave the book to.
That is the woman who I was talking to.
Who did you get that from?
Do you have any idea who he sold his car to?
That is the person who I got the information from.

Rule. Use this he/him method to decide whether who or whom is correct:

he = who
him = whom


Who/Whom wrote the letter?
He wrote the letter. Therefore, who is correct.

Who/Whom should I vote for?
Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct.

We all know who/whom pulled that prank.

This sentence contains two clauses: we all know and who/whom pulled that prank. We are interested in the second clause because it contains the who/whom. He pulled that prank. Therefore, who is correct.

We wondered who/whom the book was about.

This sentence contains two clauses: we wondered and who/whom the book was about. Again, we are interested in the second clause because it contains the who/whom. The book was about him. Therefore, whom is correct.

Note: This rule is compromised by an odd infatuation people have with whom—and not for good reasons. At its worst, the use of whom becomes a form of one-upmanship some employ to appear sophisticated. The following is an example of the pseudo-sophisticatedwhom.

Incorrect: a woman whom I think is a genius
In this case whom is not the object of I think. Put I think at the end and witness the folly: a woman whom is a genius, I think.

Correct: a woman who I think is a genius
Learn to spot and avoid this too-common pitfall.

That vs. Which; so-called; confusing words

Use that when the words following it are necessary to identify the word that refers to.
Example: "The river that flows by my door is rising."

You cannot remove the that clause, because you wouldn't know which river is being referred to. The sentence would simply read: "The river is rising."

Use which when the words following it are not necessary to identify the word it refers to.
Example: "The Indian River, which flows by my town, is rising."

You can remove the which clause, because you would know which river is being referred to - the Indian River. The sentence would read: "The Indian River is rising." Note: When using which, use commas to separate the clause. When using that, don't use commas.

When using the adjective so-called to describe something that is falsely or improperly so named, do not put the word or phrase it describes in quotation marks.

INCORRECT: The so-called "leader" of our group is really a follower.
CORRECT: The so-called river that runs between Cocoa and Merritt Island is technically a lagoon.

Be careful not to confuse words in your writing. One often sees onboard used where aboard is the proper word.

INCORRECT: We're happy to welcome Smithers onboard as our new Chief Fun Officer. Onboard means "carried within or occurring aboard a vehicle (as a satellite or an automobile)."

For example, an onboard computer.
CORRECT: We're happy to welcome Smithers aboard as our new Chief Fun Officer. Aboard means "in or into a group, association, or organization."

Other common confusions (check a dictionary if in doubt):

•  compliment and complement: With the i it means "an expression of esteem"; with the e it means "something that completes."

•  eminent and imminent: The e word means "standing out"; the i word (and note the double-m) means "ready to happen."

•  under way and underway: The one-word form is not to be used after a verb, i.e., the one-word form is only an adjective. Incorrect: We got underway at noon. Correct: We got under way at noon.

The conference is under way as we speak.

The crew prepared for the underway refueling scheduled at dawn.