Again, all verbs will start with their infinitive form. We’ve already looked at the different tenses, subjunctive verbs, and more. Today I want to examine Present Participles and Gerunds.
Present Participles are created by taking the infinitive form of the verb (to smile), drop the “to” and add “-ing.” (“Smiling“). Present participles modify nouns, for example in the form of an adjective – “The smiling man.” Because present participles can be easily combined with other words to form a phrase, it actually goes farther than adjectives can. For example, “The man, smiling a hello to his wife, arrived at the party right on time.” See, a simple adjective couldn’t add that much information – but a Present Participle Phrase can.
Past Participles are usually created by taking the Past Perfect tense of the verb (Had Smiled) and dropping the “had.” You should remember that Past Perfect is the tense we use when comparing two events in the past – “Before the clock struck twelve, I had smiled at my brother.” So for “To Smile,” it becomes (“Smiled“).
Now you’ll probably notice that this looks a LOT like the Simple Past tense of the verb (I think of this as the normal past tense – “I smiled“). Unfortunately, that’s not always going to be true. For many verbs, both the Simple Past and the Past Perfect are the same, making Past Participles easy. But a lot of verbs are irregular – meaning that their form changes between the Simple Past (SP) and Past Perfect (PP) tense. Some examples (You can find a more complete list here) include:
- To Arise (SP – Arose | PP – Had Arisen)
- To Catch (SP – Chose | PP – Had Chosen)
- To Fly (Sp – Flew | PP – Had Flown)
- To Drink (Sp – Drank | PP – Had Drunk)
- To Ride (Sp – Rode | PP – Had Ridden)
Like Present Participles, Past Participles are used to create Participle Phrases – “The man, heard yelling at his wife, apparently lost it and went berserk.”Try to remember that when a verb is functioning as a noun modifier, especially in an adjective form, it should be the Present or Past Participle form.
Gerunds look very similar to the present participle (“smiling”) but instead of modifying a noun, gerunds actually are nouns (in function at least). “Smiling makes me tired” -‘smiling’ is the subject of this sentence, and thus, must be a noun. As a noun, gerunds don’t always have to be the subject; they can also function as the direct object of a sentence. “You should practice smiling for the camera.”
For the GMAT, there are primarily four forms or tenses you should learn for verbs. You should also be familiar with when each form is used. It’s annoying and time-consuming, but even the best English speakers should review this occasionally. Remember that all verbs begin with the infinitive, so we’ll start with the infinitive of “to smile.”
This is the most common form and the easiest for us. I like to tell my students to just assume the verb is simple unless you know otherwise. Typically, these are used when an event happened, is happening, or will happen only one time and then it’s over.
- Simple Past: I smiled
- Simple Present: I smile / He smiles / They smile
- Simple Future: I will smile
- Past Perfect: I had smiled
The PAST PERFECT tense is only used when you are discussing something that happened in the past before something else happened in the past. For example, “Yesterday, I had walked my dog before I talked to my mom.” There will always be EITHER A) two verbs in the sentence (one Past Perfect and one simple Past) or B) something that points to two different times (By, Before, By the time, After, Once)
- “I had already talked with Janie when Tom came by.“
- “By 4:30, I had already talked with Janie.“
Notice, you could also say “Yesterday, I walked my dog before I talked to my mom.” So use of the Past Perfect is not always required. Especially if you have words that clearly lay out the timing (i.e. “before” in our example). Using the Past Perfect often suggests a connection between event one and event two. For our first example (“I had walked“), one might think it is somehow important that you had finished walking the dog first. Maybe you talked about the dog. Maybe you need a timeline for when the dog went missing. I don’t know, but it sounds like they are related. For the second example (“I walked“), you might just be listing out what you did in order.
On the GMAT if you have a sentence that meets the requirements (Simple + Perfect or Timing Word) and past perfect is an option, run with it.
- Present Perfect: I have smiled / he has smiled
Present Perfect is used when the event happening started in the past and is continuing to happen (or its consequences are still felt) today. For example: “I have gone home for the weekend.” While I may not still be on the train, the event of my being at home is still happening until the weekend is over.
- “Marcus has opened his store for the day.“
- “Oliver and James have joined the sports team this semester.“
- Past Conditional: I would smile. . .
Conditional verbs, like the subjunctive, are formed by taking the infinitive verb (without the “to”) and adding the word “would” to it. “The teacher believed I would win.” Be careful with this one. The Conditional must match with a PAST tense verb. It’s only talking about views of the future made in the past.
If you are talking about beliefs of the future held today, use the PRESENT and FUTURE tenses “The teacher believes I will win.”
- Progressive: I am smiling
The Progressive tense is formed by combining the correct form of the verb “to be” + Present Participle (present tense ing). “I am eating dinner” “They are watching football.” This tense is used to describe an event happening RIGHT NOW. Notice that it is a special event happening right now – we don’t use it for things that are always true or happening, for future actions (things that will happen in the future, not now), or or general definitions / descriptions of things.
A favorite of both English teachers and apparently the GMAT is the good old hypothetical. Hypothetical means “it’s possible” or “maybe” – “it might happen or it might not happen.”
Hypothetical sentences usually take the form “If ____, then ____” or “_____ must happen, or else _____” “If” this condition occurs, “then” this result is possible or this result will happen.
The problem with hypotheticals (at least for me) is the fact that the verb you use changes depending on the certainty and timing of the result. Every hypothetical has two verbs – one in the “IF” portion and one in the “Then” portion.
The Hypothetical appears in several different forms:
- If X had happened, then Y would also have happened. We are definitely certain here. Had the event X occurred, no question, Y would have followed. Did X happen? I don’t actually know. 🙂 Have you ever seen a movie where Person A says something like “She’s dead!” and Person B says “No! If she had died, I would have known it in my heart.” Is she alive? Maybe – but perhaps Person B is wrong. That isn’t really the point. The point is, person B feels certain that if X, then Y would have occurred. So -> we use the PAST PERFECT (had ____) verb for the “If” part and the CONDITIONAL PERFECT (would have _____) verb for the “Then” part.
- “If she had died, I would have felt it.“
- If X, then Y (always). Notice that this one is very certain. Although it is possible X will not happen (thus the hypothetical), if it does it will CERTAINLY lead to Y. Think of a scientist trying to test whether gravity is real or not. Sure, it’s possible the apple won’t detach from the tree at all (let’s say it’s beginning of the season). But we are 100% positive that if it does detach, it will fall down. Because it happens EVERY TIME, it happens in the past, present, and future. So -> We use the PRESENT tense of the verb for both the “If” and the “Then” parts.
- “If the apple falls from the tree, it falls down.“
- If X, then (usually) Y . Here, we aren’t entirely certain, but usually the result is going to happen. Assume I’m planning what time I should leave tomorrow morning to get to school. Now, I know that on the average day, the trip takes me 15 minutes. I need to be there at 8:00. So I should leave here at about 7:45. That’s on a normal day – about 85% of the time, it works. But what if there is a huge car accident or we are expecting some snow? There is a 15% chance that I should have left earlier. Me leaving at 7:45 and getting there at 8:00 usually happens no matter if it’s yesterday, today, or tomorrow. SO -> We use the PRESENT tense of the verb for both the “If” and “then” parts. BUT! We also add either “can” or “may” before the second verb to show that it is NOT a guaranteed certainty – it’s just possible.
- “If I leave the house at 7:45, I can arrive at 8:00.“
- If X happens this time, then Y will happen after that. We have no specific information about what usually happens. We’re only talking about a specific event in this situation. This sentence is arguing that if some special event occurs, then Y is CERTAINLY going to happen after that. SO -> We use the PRESENT tense of the verb for the “If” part and the FUTURE (will ___) for the “Then” part. Because we add “will” – it shows the certainty we have.
- “If the conference lasts for another hour, I will miss dinner.“
- If X, then Y (but it’s unlikely that X will happen). I like to put these sentences in a snarky or sarcastic tone. You are trying to say that if something unlikely happened, then this would be the result. Now either it’s unlikely because the odds are low (i.e. Zombie Apocalypse happening tomorrow) or because you don’t believe it (i.e. Me going to the city tomorrow). In the first case, I’m being snarky because yeah, what are the odds. In the second case, it’s actually about 20% possible it might happen, I just don’t really think it will. In this situation, we are always talking about future events and we are VERY uncertain. So -> We use the PAST tense or – if the verb is “to be” – “were to”) for the “If” part and (“Would” or “Could”) + PRESENT Verb for the “Then part”.
- “If the Zombie Apocalypse happened, then you would be the first to die“
- “If I were to go to Zhengzhou tomorrow, then I could stop by Walmart on my way home.”
SO WHAT TO LOOK FOR?:
- Usually one or the other side of the “If” / “Then” will be provided for you and will not be underlined. Watch for which verb appears then match it to the other.
- Situation 1: (Had Past) + (Would have Past)
- Situation 2: (Present) + (Present)
- Situation 3: (Present) + (May Present)
- Situation 4: (Present) + (Future)
- Situation 3: (Past) / (Were to ___) + (Would ____) *note no “have” here.
I previously discussed the Infinitive form of verbs in a post a couple days ago. You’ll hear the word Subjunctive in two place in GMAT review. The formation of the verb depends on its use in a sentence.
The “Hypothetical” use of the Subjunctive is by far the most common way this form appears in modern English. Hypothetical means “it’s possible” or “maybe.” Hypothetical sentences take the form “If ____, then ____” or “_____ must happen, or else _____” “If” this condition occurs, “then” this result is possible.
For the hypothetical sentence, the subjunctive form is created by using the PAST TENSE of the verb. “I ate“. “If children ate their vegetables, they would grow taller.” If you need to use the verb “to be,” the subjunctive is “were.” “If you were home tomorrow, we could have a sleepover!” If you need to, combine it with an INFINITIVE. “If children were to eat their vegetables, they would grow taller” “If you were to go home tomorrow, we could have a sleepover!“
The hypothetical sentence will use a subjunctive in the “If” part of the sentence, but only IF A) there is no sign that the “If” must happen today or in the past and B) the result would occur in the future and C) there is no certainty that either will happen. Note that “may” and “can” suggest something is more likely than not. “Would” and “could” suggest more unlikely than likely. (*Don’t ask me why, that’s just how they interpret it on the GMAT)
- “If Mary eats this fruit, she loses weight.” – NOT subjunctive. (this is guaranteed to happen when the “if” part is fulfilled. Every time. Also, the result is set in the present.)
- “If Mary eats this fruit, she may lose weight.” – NOT subjunctive (“may” or “can” suggests that normally, this would happen. So little uncertainty.)
- “If Mary eats this fruit tomorrow, she will lose weight.” – NOT subjunctive (about the future, but no uncertainty here. If x happens, then y).
- “If Mary ate this fruit, she would lose weight.” – SUBJUNCTIVE! (She could eat it anytime in the future. The result thus would also happen in the future. It is also not guaranteed that Mary will eat the fruit or that she will thus lose weight. “Would” suggests more unlikely than likely)
When the GMAT gives you a hypothetical sentence, remember that you must use the subjunctive verb in the IF part of the sentence.
The second use of the Subjunctive is closely related to the Infinitive form. The subjunctive is created by taking the infinitive form (to jump) and eliminating the “to” portion -> “jump.”
- To swing -> Swing
- To laugh -> Laugh
- Was, Were, Are -> Be
As with version #1, you can also combine “were” + Infinitive for this version. This form of the Subjunctive is used in mainly two situations:
- When you are expressing that something should or could or you wish would happen. Very similar to the hypothetical in that there is no guarantee that it actually will happen.
- “I hope that you eat the apple. “
- “I suggest that you come to my house“
- “I would appreciate it if you were to visit our grandmother.”
- When you are acting like an annoying older sister by telling people what to do. Here, although you are making it a sentence, what you are really expressing is a command. (And you could certainly write it as a command). Because it’s just a nice way of phrasing a polite demand, you use the same verb you would use in a real command (the Subjunctive).
- “I recommend that you eat the apple.” – Sounds a lot like “Eat the apple!”
- “The teacher ordered that the students be ready for a pop quiz.” = “Be ready for a pop quiz!”
Please note the importance of “that” for this version. This version always follows a certain pattern (clue!):
- Verb + That + (subject + Subjunctive)
If you don’t have the “that” in there, it isn’t subjunctive. For example, in the sentence “The teacher ordered that the students be ready for a pop quiz” we know that it is subjunctive because it includes the word “that.”
But what about the following sentence: “The teacher ordered the students to be ready for a pop quiz.” = OK, but it uses the infinitive “to be” instead of the subjunctive because there is NO “THAT“!
*Just be careful which verbs are command verbs and which are not. For example, “I forbid” requires an infinitive “I forbid you to ____” instead of a subjunctive.
Most verbs start in their simplest form – the Infinitive. The Infinitive is created by combining the word “to” with the way the verb would look in a dictionary or thesaurus.
Examples of INFINITIVE:
- To Laugh
- To Cry
- To Hope
- To Swim
The infinitive is used in a variety of ways in a sentence. They can be used as the subject of a sentence – “To live quietly is all I ever wanted.” They can be used as the direct object of a verb – “I wanted to live quietly.” They can be used to express purpose or explain the reason why something happens – “I moved to China to live quietly.” When used to express purpose or reasoning, you can sometimes introduce the infinitive with “in order to__” or so as to__.” “I moved to China in order to live quietly“
When studying idioms, you’ll realize that some verbs require an infinitive to come as the Direct Object when the clause is formed a certain way – “I appeared to live quietly.” Some of the verbs often requiring an infinitive include:
- X does not care to ____ *
- Tends to _____
- Would like
I think of these as the “My Wish is a Command” phrases. Usually these appear in four contexts:
- Person A is informing Person B of their wishes or feelings about doing something (often to get them to do something or agree with them). “Mike did not care to hear my story” = Mike didn’t want to hear it and I need to shut up. “They would like to eat at 7:00pm” = They want to eat at this time and want Person B to either agree or to do something about that (i.e. set the table at 6:30).
- Person A is trying to convince Person B to do what they want. “Sarah asked Tom to___” “The government forbade us to _____.” “The university is persuading its students to____.”
- Person B is responding what Person A wants. “I refused to go home” = I told someone no – what they want is NOT reality. “Annie promised to eat better food.” = Annie agreed to do what they wanted.
- Person A’s wishes are successfully or unsuccessfully becoming reality. “Nick failed to meet our demands.” = Our wishes were not met. “Jessie attempted to climb Mount Everest.” = She wanted to climb and she did. “Harlan learned to make pottery” = Either he wanted to learn or Person B wanted him to learn so he went to class. Either way, someone’s desires became reality.
Kind of manipulative no? At least they are forthright about it all. Here’s what I want and you should accommodate my wishes. Two of the few exceptions* to notice (because they’re an awful lot like “Forbid”) are the words “prohibit” and “ban” “Prohibit” and “Banned” will be followed by “from _____ing”; while “Forbid” is followed by “to ____.” “The government prohibited/banned us from driving while intoxicated.” “The government forbade us to drive while intoxicated.”
The word “able” (or its close relative “ability”) is an annoying idiom on the GMAT strongly tied to the infinitive. Although in conversational English, you might hear “His ability for grabbing the audience during a speech is just amazing”; it’s technically WRONG on the GMAT. If you see “able” or “ability” on the GMAT – assume it needs to be followed by “to ____” “His ability to grab the audience during a speech is just amazing.” “He is more than able to swim across the lake“. Another tricky word connected to “able” but different is “capable“. Usually, “capable” is followed by “of ____ing” rather than the “to ____” form. “He is more than capable of swimming across the lake.”
Sometimes ADJECTIVES can be followed by infinitives as well. Often this happens when you are expressing emotions or opinions about doing something. “I was happy to help.” “It seems dangerous to climb at night.” “We were lucky to stay alive.” Some common examples include:
Since I know several college student from International Countries (or from the US living abroad) also take the GMAT every year, I thought I’d keep you up-to-date on the process I go through while I’m taking it in China. Partly just because it’s kind of a glimpse into how things are different just traveling and surviving abroad.
The registration process itself was pretty simple – I did the normal US registration website and everything. Registered an account and selected Zhengzhou, China as my location.
However, that was the end of the easy part. First of all, finding English study books is a pain though do-able. My students order them off of Taobao (Chinese Ebay) or Amazon.cn. I went ahead and purchased one while I was in the States on holiday and brought it with me. As long as its a semi-developed country where many students take the test, I think you can find study books. I wouldn’t count on it in other countries necessarily.
I don’t actually live in Zhengzhou, instead I live about an hour away. Since the GMAT is less common in China, the testing centers are less populous. So I was kind of lucky to find one this close to me.
My test is at 8:30am local time, which was the only time slot available. The dates are not as open, and you are more limited as to what time of day is available here than in the US I think. That means I need to arrange a hotel for the night before. Since my test will not end until after noon, that means I would have to rush in order to get to the bus and home on time. So I ended up getting a hotel for two nights instead–A lot of students from out of town do this I’ve found.
So the total GMAT cost goes to Test + Travel (for me about $10 for bus + subway + taxi) + Hotel ($150 for two nights).
Unfortunately, the location itself is clear out in the boonies (sp? — out in the middle of nowhere) and I could never have found it on my own. As with all good small-town Chinese addresses, it isn’t even a real address. The location according to the MBA site is at “NEEA-Henan Higher Education Admission Office Zhengzhou HEN, CHN.” Legit – I put in the name of the location that the MBA site gave me and it doesn’t show up on Google.
Luckily my ticket had a little more information — HENAN COLLEGE OF FINANCE &TAXATION, ZHENGKAI RD&KANGZHUANG RD INTERSECTION, RM 517, ADMINISTRATION BLDG.. Yep – that’s a helpful address – “at the intersection of Zhengkai Rd & Kangzhuang Rd.” I tried looking up the college, and found an address on the opposite end of town (apparently the old address? – I’m not really sure).
One of the things you learn when you travel abroad is that GoogleMaps can be much less helpful depending on the country. I’ve heard that it’s pretty on spot in Europe. But in Japan, Korea, and China where I’ve traveled extensively, GoogleMaps is frequently not helpful whatsoever. The names on Google are in Chinese (which I don’t speak and certainly can’t write or read), the roads aren’t up to date, the buildings move, everything is a couple years old. In a well-developed city, a couple years might not mean much for a map. But in a still swiftly growing and expanding area like Henan, China just two months might see a complete and total difference.
I finally just posted the address on Weixin (China Facebook/Twitter) and my students (have I mentioned how much I love them to pieces?) immediately responded with the Chinese map, the Chinese name of the School, the Chinese address, and directions to give to a taxi driver. According to the map, it’s out in the middle of nowhere – land several kilometers outside of the actual city. Seriously, it’s at a small community college “on the road between Zhengzhou and Kaifeng” (hence the intersection of Zhengkai road 😛 ). So we all agreed, I’d need to take the subway all the way to the end. Then one student said I should take Exit E (thank God for that piece on information — people appreciate the Exit number not enough!) then go east to the main road. No one knows where the bus stop is (our city doesn’t have a good bus map or layout — so no one really knows when or where it’ll stop). Just that I need bus 102 to the stop (of course it’s in Chinese). At first they said try to find Chinese students to help me find the bus — then we realized its the holiday and there probably won’t be anyone. 😛
Oh the life I lead!
Of course, because it’s so far out, there were no hotels in the area to speak of. A couple that were low end – $20 a night- places. But while a cheap motel might be okay in the US, I don’t trust them here in China. Too many horrific experiences (namely one including a plate on the floor outside the hotel restaurant with so much mold on it, it should have been a lab experiment .) 😛 So I had to go further up line 1 on the Subway to find a hotel.
To be honest, I have no idea how much time this whole thing is going to take me. And I’m kind of dreading the whole “Check-in” and get a computer process. They say the people will speak English, but I’m not really counting on it. 🙂 I’ve been told that before. Anyway, I’ll let you know how the process itself goes. Off to work on my math. Wish me luck!
If you are looking for a place to practice your multiplication tables (i.e. for ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT) you can check out the class I made on Quizlet. You can find the link here.