I just ❤ the Beautiful trees here on campus! Spring is one of my favorite seasons!
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.
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:
“Expired Raw Meat” = “a large number of expired metamorphic meat raw material behavior” -> I love Chinglish 😛
Relative Pronouns (A lesson for my ESL Students)
There are three (3) “Relative Pronouns” in English–THAT, WHICH, WHO. Their job is to come after a noun and introduce more information about that object. Basically, they answer the question “What _____? I need more information please!”
Especially helpful if you need more information in order to correctly identify that specific object from a group of similar items.
- THAT – is used for things and people. “Tom is the man that is going to teach you.” (Tom is the man. What man? – more information please. The man going to teach you.)
- WHICH – is used only for things. “Here is the car which I used to pick you up.” (This is the car. What car? – more information please. The car I used to pick you up.)
- WHO – is used only for people. “Mary is the woman who helped me study for the test.” (Mary is the woman. What woman? – more information please.She helped me study for the test.)
We are at the airport, and I say “Go get the car.” But you don’t know my car, you have never seen my car. How do you pick my car from a group of cars?
Well, I could have given you more information about the car using “Relative Pronouns.”
Since “Car” is a thing, I could use either “that” or “which.”
- “Go get the car that is on the right side of the parking lot.”
- “Go get the car which is green and parked close to the building.”
Both of these would give you more information so you can pick the correct car.
One of my students was writing about the Youku / Tudou (2 Chinese media companies like Youtube) merger for our Negotiations class.
However, they put what they wrote into Bing!Translator to move it from Chinese to English. And Tudou translates as “Potato Net.” So every time they meant to say Tudou, it says “Potatoes.”
“Youku and the potatoes had a 100% merger . . . . potatoes have been issued”. . . . and the potatoes are buying up stock.
I’m just saying – these are some advanced potatoes and I want in on the action. Do smart, shareholder potatoes taste better when you eat then?
This is Walmart during Black Friday – the next line is full – please go clear to the next paragraph 😜 (Sign posted at our resident Waka – the Chinese Walmart)