3.4. Practice for the character and time

Exercise 7. To get along with our language patterns at school, we need to be able to use grammar labels. If we learn to operate the labels (as well as our grammars) cognitively, we are not going to end up as the student in the picture above.


Example: pattern 1
Answer: the Present Progressive


Grammatical time



The Simple

The Progressive

The Perfect

The Future




The Present




The Past





Our next exercise works on a very important level in language learning. The level is metalinguistic. Metalanguage is the language we use to think and talk about language.


Without metalanguage, we might recognize forms as “those ending in ED.” With metalanguage, we can tell if a form that ends in ED is 3RD or 2ND. It is also metalanguage to let tell the ED form we use with Perfect tenses is the 3RD form.


Most of us know metalanguage from school or individual study; we only might be not used to the specialist term, “metalanguage”.


Exercise 8. We can practice associating the auxiliary and the Aspect. We can begin with “saying” the answers in our thoughts, as in our mind practice in 1.2.


With progress, we will not need to imagine saying or writing entire words in our thoughts forever. Our human brains can make inner language habits that work more efficiently. We only begin with “saying” and “seeing” entire words in our minds. When we think about the sound and shape of a word, we can say we conceptualize it.


Example: had
Answer: third form, the Past Perfect


We “say” and “see” in our thoughts as fast as possible, “without thinking”, at best.

1. was


2. is


3. have


4. were


5. has


6. will be


7. will have


8. are


9. am


Exercise 9. As auxiliaries, be and have can build the Progressive and the Perfect patterns. However, they have the same forms for the grammatical person when they are head verbs. Let us practice them for the time extent (PRESENT, PAST, or FUTURE) with the persons. As in exercise 3, we can write “all persons” where our important language forms remain the same. It is not wrong to have language work for an important activity.

Example: have in the PRESENT
Answer: I, you, we, they have <<>> he, she, it has


1. be in the PRESENT


2. have in the FUTURE


3. be in the PAST


4. be in the FUTURE


5. have in the PAST


Exercise 10. Let us try the patterns from exercise 8 with the virtual bimo. It is a virtual “regular verb” and makes the second and third forms with ED. Mind first, let us only think the answers. We can write them when we have done the thinking for the entire exercise.


Example: had
Answer: bimoed


Exercise 11. We can expand our focus and think about the grammatical person as well. We can write “all persons” where the forms remain the same. Doing our thinking, we can place the person last, to exercise flexibility.


Example: be in the PRESENT
Answer: am bimoing, I
are bimoing, you, we, they
is bimoing, he, she, it


1. have in the PAST


2. have in the FUTURE


3. be in the FUTURE


4. be in the PAST


5. have in the PRESENT


Our thinking does not require strict consecution, especially as regards grammatical Time and Aspect (character of activity). We can learn to think Time first, or Aspect first. We may picture that as a dynamic theme.


TIME and ASPECT dynamic theme


Exercise 12. We can tell the core word in the pattern first. Then we label the pattern, Aspect first.


Please mind, we recognize core words only with regard to tense patterns. The words are the verbs TO BE, TO HAVE, TO DO and WILL. We exercise the words we use most often for our time reference. We do not intend to limit our vocabularies.


Example: am / is / are bimoing
Answer: be, Progressive in the PRESENT


1. have / has bimoed


2. was / were bimoing


3. will be bimoing


4. had bimoed


5. will have bimoed



In all natural languages, we people first learn where things or persons are, and the ability to tell the hour comes after. Time and place remain an association in our human minds throughout lifespan. We can use this association for grammar. Let us see some more detail in Chapter Four.


Link to chapter 4. The Aspect on the map