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“I’ve been waiting here for 20 minutes ”

We often use the present perfect progressive to talk about actions continuing up to now, especially when we say how long they (the action) have lasted.

But after teaching present perfect continuous to the students, we need to check the concept very carefully. Some students might have problems understanding present perfect continuous tense because they will be confused between using present continuous and present perfect continuous.

As the present continuous is easy to use, some students may use present tense to express their ideas. But the problem is we do not use present tense to say how long the action has lasted. For example:

Instead of saying, “It has been snowing since Tuesday”, they might say, “It is snowing since Tuesday”.

Context: Adam and his friends want to watch a movie. Adam is waiting in front of the cinema. His friend Thomas sees him:

Thomas: “Hey mate; where is sue?”

Adam: “I don’t know. I’ve been waiting here for 20 minutes”.

That’s why we really need to ask them some concept questions to be certain that they really understand the meaning of the sentence. If we understand what the meaning is and can focus on it in simple and clear ways, then it is obviously more useful to the students than when we explain at length, fail to pinpoint the essential components of meaning and use complex language.

By asking concept question we can also establish whether students are clear about the meaning or not. For the above target language if we ask the concept questions-

1. Am I still waiting?
Ans.– Yes.
2.When did I start waiting?
Ans.– Before 20 minutes.

But if they say ‘No’, that means the meaning is not clear to them.

‘We wouldn’t have missed the train if we had taken a taxi’

Students most often have problems with conditional sentences. They don’t have a clear idea of when and how to use the conditionals. The conjunction ‘if’ is used to preface a condition, e.g. ‘If it rains, you will get wet’. In this case it is quite likely that it will rain and therefore the result is possible. However, if we change the verb (present to past simple) the sentence is ‘If it rained, you would get wet’ we are suggesting that the chance of it raining is unlikely – in other words we are talking about hypothetically- and this is signaled by the use of ‘would’ rather than ‘will’.

A further change of verb tense/ form (using the past perfect) will produce an impossible condition, e.g. ‘If it had rained, we would have got wet’ The first conditional and second conditionals talk about the future, with the third conditional we talk about the past. We talk about a condition in the past that did not happen. That is why there is no possibility for this condition. The third conditional is also like a dream, but with no possibility of the dream coming true. Context: Sally and her friend Sue have reached at the station by bus. As the bus was stopping in every stop, they have missed the train.

Sally: “Oh God; we have missed the train.”
Sue: ”We wouldn’t have missed the train if we had taken a taxi.”

The meanings of the sentence are -

We did not take a taxi. We missed the train.

Condition

Result

Past perfect
Would have + past participle

If
We had taken a taxi
We wouldn’t have missed the train

Here we are talking about an impossible past condition. We missed the train, so the condition was not true, and that particular condition can never be true because it is finished. We use the past perfect tense to talk about the impossible past condition. We use ‘would have + past participle’ to talk about the impossible past result. The most important thing about the third conditional is that both the condition and the result are impossible now. For the above target language we can ask the students the following concept...
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