Saturday, February 28, 2009

Simple Present Tense: Frequently Asked Questions.

Why is Simple Present Tense called simple ?

The tag simple attached to the name of the tense indicates its verb-form. There are two kinds of verb-forms, simple and compound. When a verb-form consists of the main verb and one or more auxiliaries it is called a compound verb-form. When a verb -form has no auxiliaries but only the obligatory main verb, it is called simple verb-form. Simple Present Tense does not take any auxiliaries. The use of auxiliaries in negatives and questions is a later development in the history of the language. Old English was exactly like Modern German-negatives and questions were formed without auxiliaries

Spielen Sie Basketball/(play you basketball?)
Ich spiele nicht.(I play not)

What is inflection?

Changing the form of a word to indicate its grammatical relation with other words in the sentence is called inflection. Thus in Latin the word porta (door) is inflected as portam to indicate that it is the object of a verb or preposition.Old English was a highly inflected language.Modern English has shed most of these inflections. However, a few of them survive. For example, when the subject is third person singular the verb in Simple Present Tense is inflected by adding -s or -es .Inflection of verbs for number or persons is quite intriguing to Malayalam--speaking ESL learners because Malayalam verbs are never inflected for persons and number. Hence, Malayalam-speaking students may have difficulty in conceptualizing inflection in Simple Present Tense

Why does English still preserve inflection?

There was a time when English was a fully inflected language. It has retained only a few of these inflections. Most of these surviving inflections serve some purpose like indicating tense or degrees of comparisons Some of them,however, do not serve any purpose . These inflections will eventually disappear Does inflection in Simple Present Tense serve any purpose? I am oot quite sure!

How are questions and negatives formed in Simple Present Tense?

A yes/no question begins with an auxiliary followed by the subject and then by the verb .The elements that follow the verb are optional. Simple Present Tense does not have any auxiliary, and so the dummy auxiliary do/does is used.Remember does carries the inflection and therefore the main verb should not be inflected!


She plays tennis (statement)
Does she play tennis?\(question)

This train goes to Alleppey(statement)
Does this train go to Alleppey?)(question)

The standard practice in English to make a verb negative is by adding n't to the auxiliary of the verb. As Simple Present Tense does not have any auxiliary n't is added to the dummy auxiliary do/does.


Sita goes to the temple every morning (positive)
Sita doesn't go to the temple every morning.(negative)

Dear readers, I will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you

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