What problems do you have when trying to explain?

Finding a different way to explain tenses - The PhraseBlog - PhraseMix.com

So I have a question for you. What problems do you have when trying to explain when something happens?

Hi, phrasemix. It's @rhb4.

It is generally said that the present perfect, the present progressive and the 'future tense' are hard to understand for Japanese. I think so, too.

Firstly, the present perfect doesn't have a precise Japanese word in translation. It's translated as '現在完了', which literally means 'present completion', but it often makes it very difficult for the learners to grasp its meaning. So they can't figure out whether it refers to the present or to the past.

Secondly, the present progressive is usually explained in a way that it expresses someone or something is 'in the middle of doing something.' That's a correct explanation, but not enough.

As you know, the present progressive can be used for many other expressions. That is, repeated events in temporary contexts, progress of change, regular but not planned actions with indefinite frequency adverbs (such as always, constantly and forever) , actions in the near future and politeness.

Despite of its varieties, most of the learners consider them as exceptional uses of this tense, because they don't mean 'in the middle of doing something'. Actually, the tenses represent a contrast of temporal references, but in reality the perfect and the progressive are not the tenses but aspects.

As a result, many Japanese learners have been struggling against this two 'tenses' and it's still hard to get the point even now.

Thirdly, 'the future tense' is also complicated. One of the most common errors is the constant over-use of 'will'. One of the reasons is that the meanings of 'will' are secondary to time meanings.

Just in my view, 'will' is NOT a tense but a modal verb which has two main functions. One is expressing speaker's volition, another their prediction or deduction.

We should be aware of the fact that 'future tense' sentences don't necessarily have to involve 'the time'. For example, 'I will never forget it'. This sentence doesn't express 'the time', does it? I think it's just one's volition.

After all, the learner's confusion around the tenses is mostly caused by their notions. They generally believe that the tenses are mainly used to express the time references of an event or an action. It might be true, but it's not enough to understand the tenses.

Thank you.

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