Perfect time for a full-dress review of the perfect tenses

by JoeCarillo ( | | | )

January 5, 2016


Dear Fellow Writer,


I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!


In the English language, we generally mark occurrences through time with the simple past tense, the present tense, and the future tense. However, these simple tenses prove inadequate for capturing the idea that an act or occurrence has been completed or not, that it continues or has stopped, or that it has become a done thing. The English language thus takes recourse to the so-called perfect tenses to describe an action, occurrence, or circumstance more fully as it has unfolded or is unfolding in the time continuum.


For this month’s edition of Jose Carillo’s English Forum, I am presenting a five-part, full-dress review of the perfect tenses that I wrote for my weekly column in The Manila Times though the month of December 2015 till January 2, 2016. The first essay was in reply to a question by a Forum member about a certain doubtful usage of tense, and the four subsequent essays sought to clarify and render with greater precision the four tentative conclusions about the perfect tenses that the Forum member came up with after reading that first essay. I’m sure that the five essays will help you attain greater mastery of the perfect tenses.



·       Essays by Jose Carillo: A Full-Dress Review of the Perfect Tenses (They give us a clearer sense of the unfolding or completion of an action or event in relation to a particular circumstance or point in time)
·       Advice & Dissent: 194 Notable Minds on the Most Interesting Science News in 2016 (Experts respond from the standpoint of their respective disciplines)

·       You Asked Me This Question: What’s the Crucial Difference Between “Nude” and “Naked”? (Although synonymous, they differ in the sense of delicacy with which they present the bare human figure)

·       Use and Misuse: Use of Plain English Could Have Prevented the Miss Universe 2015 Fiasco (The right design choice for a cue card can make such a big difference in conveying its intended sense)

·       The Finest in Language Humor: Gems of the Fine But Now Vanishing Art of Persiflage (Sampler: “He has no enemies but is intensely disliked by his friends.”—Oscar Wilde)

·       Students’ Sounding Board: Why is “30” Used to Denote The Death of a Journalist (It’s a carryover from the old practice of using the symbol “-30-” to end manuscripts for news and feature stories)

·       Education and Training: Plain English for Corporate Executives, Business Leaders (That means no jargon, no beating around the bush, and no flowery or big words!)

·       Time Out from English Grammar: Focusing on Three Things at Once is Courting Information Overload (When a point called “decision fatigue” is reached, it’s difficult to think straight)

·       News and Commentary: French Expected To Be World’s Most Spoken Language By 2050  (This will be due to sub-Saharan Africa’s burgeoning francophone populations)

·       Readings on Language: Contemporary Discourse in English Gets Plagued with “Verbal Eczema” (British novelist bewails the rise of subtly insulting and patronizing English expressions)

·       Advocacies: William Zinsser on Writing: “Short is Better Than Long. Simple is Good.” (Beloved advocate of clarity and brevity in English prose writes 30)

·       Getting to Know English: The Perplexing Workings of the Double Possessive (The evident superfluity of this default usage does seem like grammatical overkill!)

·       How Good is Your English?: Debatable Answer Choices in English Practice Test (They can confuse when too arithmetical, too arbitrary, and too culture-bound!)


See you at the Forum!


Sincerely yours,

Joe Carillo


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