Matura English Private Tuition: Get To Grips With Verb Tenses

 In Matura English

In one respect, verb tenses for the Matura English exam is fairly straight forward. Unlike other Indo-European languages, English doesn’t have multiple inflections.

English is also a member of the Germanic language so Austrian-born students and other German speakers tend to pick up the basic vocabulary quickly.

For those that are not familiar with German, similar words you will find in English are; what (was), when (wann), then (dann), wash (waschen), mother (Mutter), father (Vater).

Likewise, much of the English language derives from Latin which influenced our more sophisticated words. Whilst there is a slight variation in conjunction between French, Spanish and Italian, there are many words in English that are translatable without ever hearing the word before.

For example, sophistication is sofisticación, sofisticatezza in Italian and sophistication in French (but pronounced differently.)

The major difference between English grammar and other language is the placement of the verb. Whereas the structure of basic sentence structures apply the standard subject-verb-object, students have a hard time getting their head around more complex clauses.


Getting To Grips With Tense in Matura English

 There are 12 verb tenses in English. No wonder students get stuck or confused. English also 4 present tenses while most other languages have only one.

This means that a number of students learning English are not familiar with ‘Present perfect’ tense form. It’s typically for students to use ‘Past simple’ tense instead. For example:

Sonya is looking for her dog. She can’t find it. 

The correct way to say this is in present perfect is:

Sonya has lost her dog.

Usually, although the action is happening now, students might mistakenly use Past simple: Sonya lost her dog.

It’s also confusing when we use Present perfect to provide new information, such as: Oh, I‘ve dropped my phone. 

When we continue to talk about it, we use past simple: How did you do that? We speak about the same event using a different tense about the same moment.

Same goes for Past perfect, since not every language has “older” tense version for a past action (before the other action in the past), but simple past tense.

Add past participle and irregular verbs to these rules and it becomes a nightmare for non-native speakers.


Learning English Verb Forms

English has a large number of possible tenses (verb forms), yet their designations are not always helpful to the learner. The past simple tense, for example, can be used to talk about the future: If I won a lot of money, I would buy a new house.

Conditionals are bewildering, especially because English language has 4 types of conditionals and for a learner it’s not always clear which to use at any given moment.

There are also continuous tense forms, so English learners may make mistakes such as: I had a shower when someone knocked on the door.

This should read: I was having a shower when someone knocked on the door.

Other examples include:

I stopped smoking and

I stopped to smoke.

Indeed, the most significant problem for learners is to decide which tense (verb form) is required in English to correctly express the meaning that they wish to convey.

Verb tenses are a key aspect of the Matura English exam. If you want to hit top marks, private tuition with native British speakers will help you get your head round how and when to use verbs.

For more information, and to ask any questions that come to mind, feel free to reach out by contacting us by email at or phoning Stuart on +43 699 121 500 75.

At English 4 Professionals our friendly English tutors try to be as flexible as possible with your learning needs and your timetable.


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