Re: How to ask a question. Is it Did, Does, Was, Is, Has....
I am trying to help a young German boy to improve his English. He has a test coming up, and has a real problem with remembering what goes at the beginning of a question. He findsthe meaning of the words "simple past", "present perfect" etc so difficult to keep in his head and often muddles them up.
He is sure that his questions will be ie. "In simple past ask if Natalie came late" In Present Perfect ask if Kurt hurt Bert". Any ideas as to how I can make it all a little easier for him to keep in his head?
I would be very grateful.
The simple past can be easily recognized because it represents a complete action in the past. The action is finished.
I ate dinner at 5. - simple past - There is no way to change this. It is a complete action.
I have not eaten pizza in 6 weeks. - present perfect - This is not a complete action. It is true from six weeks ago up until now. This still means something.
With the simple past, what's done is done. With the present perfect, the action is not complete. The action began at some point in the past and is still true now. The action or state continues. It is not done and over with.
I would recommend showing examples in context.
They got married 6 years ago. - This action is complete. It cannot be changed.
They have been married for 6 years. - This is true for a period of 6 years, and as far as we know, it will continue to be true. It could also change. The point is that it is still true now.
He started his business in 1995. - This is action is complete. This cannot be changed.
He has been in business for 8 years. - He is still in business. This is true and continues to be true. It is possible for this to change. It's possible that he will not be in business at some point in the future. It is possible that he will be in business.
One thing he can remember about the simple past is the concept or idea of completeness. If something is done and "no longer continues" it is the simple past.
If the questions are fill in the blanks and are not in context, it could be rather challenging. Context tells us much of the time which form of the verb to use.
At this site, take a look at the "Time Expressions Chart". That should be of some help in dealing with this. Also, take a look at the exercises. There are some for present perfect and simple past. One might also see how more than one answer is possible when sentences are taken out of context.