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    • Join Date: Dec 2008
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    not a teacher - but a helper

    This is the first time I am asking a question here. If one was to say "was coming" - as in: "He was coming around the corner" - what part of speech would the "was coming" be? i know that plain "was" would be plain past tense. Could someone please explain how that tense changes and what it is called and anything else about past tenses. Thanks a lot.
    Last edited by drarayn; 24-Dec-2008 at 11:40. Reason: fixed spacing

  1. Junior Member
    English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
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      • Canada
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    • Join Date: Sep 2008
    • Posts: 63

    Re: not a teacher - but a helper


    In the sentence you gave, "was coming" would be the verb. The "main" part of the verb phrase is "coming" and the "helping" verb is "was".

    In English, there are really only two tenses: present and past. Technically, tense refers to a change in the form of the verb to indicate time. For example, to express present time, the verb "eat" changes to "eats" in the third person. To express past time, it changes to "ate".

    In the verb construction "was coming", you have to parts. The first part indicates the time - past. The second part indicates the type of past action we are trying to describe. By using the -ing form, we are indicating that it is not simply a completed action in the past, but rather an action that was in progress at a specific moment in time.

    I hope this makes sense!


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