Preparing to Write: Overview – Writing Better English For ESL Learners » Luyện thi Gò Vấp
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Preparing to Write

In order to write well in English, you should understand the basics of the language. Probably the most difficult area for students learning English is verbs. Although English verbs are used in complicated ways, they do not have complicated conjugations with a different ending for each pronoun like other languages might.

GERMAN                                                         SPANISH                                                                RUSSIAN 

ich fahre                                                yo hablo                                                                  x tirpato

du fährst                                               tu hablas                                                                tu urpaeiub

er fährt                                                  el habla                                                                   oh nrpaeT

wir fahren                                             nosotros hablamos                                              Mbi nrpaeM

ihr fährt                                                 vosotros habláis                                                   Bbi nrpaeTe

sie fahren                                              ellos hablan                                                           ohm nrpaiOT

With most English verbs there is only one ending (-s or -es) in the third person singular of the present tense. The only exception to that rule is the verb to be: 

I speak  I am 
you speak  you are 
he speaks  he is 
we speak  we are 
you speak  you are 
they speak  they are 

 But English has other complexities. For example, there are three ways to express the present tense: 

  • The simple conjugation of the verb means that the action of the verb is a habit or is repeated. For example: “We speak.” 
  • When the verb is conjugated with a form of to be (am, is, are, was, were), the verb will have an -ing ending. It means that the action is continuing or not yet completed. For example: “We are speaking.” 
  • The third present tense form uses a conjugation of to do (do, does) with the verb and has three uses:

(1) It is used to ask a question with most verbs except to be or certain auxiliaries (can, must, should, and so on).

(2) It is used as an emphatic response.

(3) It is used to negate the verb with not. Let’s look at some examples with the verb to speak: 

I speak English. (This is my habit. I speak English all the time.) 

I am speaking English. (I usually speak Spanish. At the moment I am speaking English.) 

Do you speak English? (A question with the verb to speak.) 

I do speak English. (This is your emphatic response to someone who has just said, “You don’t speak English.”) 

I do not speak English. (Negation of the verb to speak with not.) 

Conjugating English verbs is not difficult. But choosing the correct tense form from the three just described requires practice. The exercises that follow will help you to use English verb forms and tenses with accuracy.