Jan 27, 2011

Verb tenses and time

One of the challenges in learning a foreign language is remembering the verb tenses. For me, there are two primary issues: remembering how to form each tense, and knowing when to use it. The first issue is probably best addressed with repetition, until it's easy to remember the form. But the second issue can be more problematic. When two languages, like Spanish and English, have similar structures, it's easy to imagine that the use of tenses is the same in both, but this isn't the case. So making "direct translations" from one to the other isn't always successful. From a more philosophical perspective, one of the questions here relates to time. When is now? When is the past? Is there a difference between the near future and the distant future? It could be that it makes sense to think about concepts of time when trying to master verb tense usage, and to be clear where the differences are between your native language and the one you're trying to learn... What do you think? Aside from memorization, do you have any tips or habits that have helped you learn the verb tenses?

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