In literature and writing, a figure of speech (also called stylistic device or rhetorical device) is the use of any of a variety of techniques to give an auxiliary meaning, idea, or feeling. Sometimes a word diverges from its normal meaning, or a phrase has a specialized meaning not based on the literal meaning of the words in it. Examples are metaphor, simile, or personification. Stylistic devices often provide emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. Alliteration What is an alliteration? Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words.
Alliteration draws attention to the phrase and is often used for emphasis. The initial consonant sound is usually repeated in two neighboring words although sometimes the repetition occurs also in words that are not neighbors. Examples: * sweet smell of success, * a dime a dozen, * bigger and better, * jump for joy * share a continent but not a country Here is an example of alliteration in a poem by Wordsworth: And sings a solitary song That whistles in the wind. Remember 1. Only the repetition of the same sound is valid in an alliteration not the consonants themselves.
Examples: * keen camarad. * philosophy fan. * A neat knot need not be re-knotted. Although they start with different consonants, they constitute perfect instances of alliteration; 2. By contrast, if neighboring words start with the same consonant but have a different initial sound, the words are not alliterated. Examples: * a cute child * highly honored (pay attention to the ‘h’ in honored; it is silent) Although they start with the same consonants, they are not instances of alliteration since the sounds differ. What is an allusion? Allusion
The act of alluding is to make indirect reference. It is a literary device, a figure of speech that quickly stimulates different ideas and associations using only a couple of words. ELEMENTS OF FICTION EFINITION OF PLOT Plot refers to the series of events that give a story its meaning and effect. In most stories, these events arise out of conflict experienced by the main character. The conflict may come from something external, like a dragon or an overbearing mother, or it may stem from an internal issue, such as jealousy, loss of identity, or overconfidence.
As the character makes choices and tries to resolve the problem, the story’s action is shaped and plot is generated. In some stories, the author structures the entire plot chronologically, with the first event followed by the second, third, and so on, like beads on a string. However, many other stories are told with flashback techniques in which plot events from earlier times interrupt the story’s “current” events. All stories are unique, and in one sense there are as many plots as there are stories.
In one general view of plot, however—and one that describes many works of fiction—the story begins with rising action as the character experiences conflict through a series of plot complications that entangle him or her more deeply in the problem. This conflict reaches a climax, after which the conflict is resolved, and the falling action leads quickly to the story’s end. Things have generally changed at the end of a story, either in the character or the situation; drama subsides, and a new status quo is achieved.
It is often instructive to apply this three-part structure even to stories that don’t seem to fit the pattern neatly. conflict: The basic tension, predicament, or challenge that propels a story’s plot complications: Plot events that plunge the protagonist further into conflict rising action: The part of a plot in which the drama intensifies, rising toward the climax climax: The plot’s most dramatic and revealing moment, usually the turning point of the story falling action: The part of the plot after the climax, when the drama subsides and the conflict is resolved CHARACTER rotagonist: A story’s main character (see also antagonist) antagonist: The character or force in conflict with the protagonist round character: A complex, fully developed character, often prone to change flat character: A one-dimensional character, typically not central to the story characterization: The process by which an author presents and develops a fictional character A. Plot Definition of Plot: Events that form a significant pattern of action with a beginning, a middle and an end. They move from one place or event to another in order to form a pattern, usually with the purpose of overcoming a conflict.
The plot is more formally called a narrative. Elements of Plot: Beginning 1. Plot Line: a graph plotting the ups and downs of the central character’s fortunes. A very conventional plot might look like the one above. 2. Initial Situation i. Characters: Who are the central characters? What do they aspire to? ii. Setting: Where/when do the characters live? Does the setting contribute to the narrative? iii. Conflicts: What are the challenges facing the protagonist(s)? What are the conflict(s) that he or she (or they) will have to overcome? The beginning is often called the introduction or exposition.
By establishing the characters, setting and initial conflicts, the beginning “sets the scene” for the rest of the narrative. Dickens’ famous opening line in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” is a classic piece of exposition that helps establish the social and political background of the novel. Rising Action 3. Incentive Moment: i. Which event thrusts itself into the tension of the characters’ situation and triggers the action of the story? A new event frequently jostles the smoothness of things and changes the course of action. 4.
Episodes: After the introduction, a story usually presents a series of separate events in the plot, building from one situation to the next. A new episode (or scene) begins when the place and time change, or when something really important interrupts what has been happening. With each successive episode, the conflict becomes more and more intense, demanding some sort of resolution. The Climax 5. Climax: the critical point at which the central character is about to win or lose all. When the probable outcome of the main conflict is finally revealed (i. e. the turning point), the story has reached its climax.
In a Shakespearian tragedy, the climax occurs when the main character’s “momentum” switches from success to failure. Beyond that point, the ending is inevitable. However, the climax does not mark the end of conflict; it only determines how the conflict will be decided. The climax usually occurs anywhere from 50% to 90% of the completed story. Falling Action 6. Falling Action (or Resolution or Denouement): the events that occur after the climax that tie up “loose ends”; they perform the necessary plot actions to fulfill the protagonist’s fortunes that are now clear after the climax.
It is a tricky part of a narrative to write as the author has to decide which parts of the plot to tie up and which to leave as questions for the reader to think about (or leave for a future story). Part of the decision regarding what to tie up and what to leave open often depends on the extent to which the author wants to satisfy the reader’s need for a sense of justice or closure. 7. Epilogue: the part that tells the reader what happens to the characters well after the story is finished. It’s seen in longer narratives (like novels and movies) rather than short fiction, but even then it is only used occasionally.
B. Author’s Role in Plot 1. Plot grows out of the characters. 2. The author is always in control of what happens; fiction manipulates events; it is created. 3. Central focus of the story has to be intriguing, and the author has to arrange events in such a way as to: i. Eliminate all events that are not significant. ii. Make each succeeding event more and more intriguing until he reaches the climax. The purpose of fiction is to entertain; how well are you entertained? C. Plot Techniques 1. Suspense: Frequently involves dilemma. e. g.
Caught in a bad situation with a choice in a boating accident, you can save either your mother or your husband from drowning. 2. Flashback: The author waits until the story is moving and then flashes back to reveal biographical data or deep psychological reasons why a character acts as s/he does. It focuses more on why things happen, rather than on what happens. 3. Telescoping: It’s a matter of economy. The author can’t describe every motion of the character or event during the time the story covers. S/he has to choose the significant and merely suggest the others by saying they happened, without much description.
Art attempts verisimilitude, not “reality. ” 4. Foreshadowing: The outcome of a conflict is often hinted at or “foreshadowed” before the climax and resolution. These clues are usually very subtle; you don’t realize they are foreshadowing clues until you’ve finished the story. Early on in the novel Lord of the Flies, the boys roll a rock down from the light of the hill into the murky jungle below. The destruction of the foliage is a symbolic hint at what’s to come:the boys’ descent into savagery and destruction. Open School describes foreshadowing as “a technique that writers use to make the events in their stories ore believable. In foreshadowing, the reader is given little hints about an important future event. Something like providing clues in a mystery novel, foreshadowing ensures that when an important event occurs, the reader thinks: “Oh, I should have seen that coming” rather than, “This doesn’t fit anywhere in this piece! ” Foreshadowing can be a small series of events leading up to a big event, or an event that is similar in a thematic way to something that happens later. ” Another example of foreshadowing in Lord of the Flies occurs just after the plane crash.
The author, William Golding, describes the band of choirboys as dressed all in black and moving as if one creature. The black creature is led by Jack, which is a foreshadowing of the evil that will soon overtake him and his followers. D. Conflict in Plot Plot usually involves one or more conflicts, which are problems that need to be solved. The “movement” towards a solution is what drives the narrative forward, and is what occupies most of the protagonist’s time. The more rewarding plots are often built around mental, emotional and moral conflicts.
Plots involving physical conflict, war, exploration, escapes often contain the most excitement and suspense. Here are the major types of conflict: 1. Man’s struggle against nature 2. Man against man 3. Man against society 4. Man against himself (i. e. a portrayal of an inner struggle) The first three types are said to be “external conflicts”, while the last is “internal conflict”. Identifying Conflict: * Who or what is the protagonist? * Who or what is the antagonist? * Why is this person or thing the antagonist? * Why are the antagonist and the protagonist in conflict? * Which events contribute to the developing conflict? Which event or episode is the climax? * What does the outcome of the conflict reveal to you about the protagonist? * Did you feel sympathetic toward the protagonist or the antagonist? Explain why. For more information, check out the Open School’s discussion of conflict. I also recommend Susan Vaughan’s article on conflict. It discusses the importance of conflict in narrative fiction, and offers a good distinction between internal and external conflict. E. Setting: Aspects of Setting Setting is defined as the physical location and the time of a story. In short stories, one or both of these elements are often not defined. a.
Physical World in which Characters Live 1. Geographical location, topography, scenery, even the arrangement of objects in a room can carry special significance. Note detail. 2. Spot words that ask you to hear, see and feel elements that make up and strengthen awareness of physical setting. b. Characters Revealed by Setting. 1. Physical objects surround characters in different ways and these differences reveal traits and changes in characters. a. Psychologically, spiritually, economically and physically. b. Observe feelings and actions of characters with respect to their surroundings; as setting changes, often so does character. c.
Listen for any remarks characters make about their setting. d. Look for clues to characters in objects they have placed in their physical world. c. Setting Revealed by Characters 1. Characters contribute clues about setting. 2. When time isn’t made obvious, the reader can often make inferences from objects a character has placed in the setting 3. Dress and dialect contain clues as to historical period in which events take place, as well as to regional setting and social levels within a region. d. Plot Assisted by Setting 1. Some stories or plots can take place only in certain settings. Actions governed by particular customs and mores. . Traditions established over many generations exert great influence on what characters do. 3. Physical nature also creates conditions that affect plot: setting can confine action as, for example, on the sea, or on a mountaintop. e. Atmospheric Setting 1. The mood is reliant on the words and tone of description; a jingle can be light, full of life, and exciting, or, dark, foreboding, and full of evil. 2. The setting of a Victorian drawing room elicits an atmosphere of restraint and decorum. 3. Atmosphere can be overdrawn (as in many Harlequin romances) and become gooey with manufactured emotion. . Theme Revealed by Setting 1. Some authors skillfully use atmosphere to introduce and reinforce the theme of the novel; what happens in setting (flood) happens to characters (changed course of action). 2. Setting may reveal how man sees nature, they may show hate, agony, courage, etc. or men’s struggle for insignificant things. For more information, check out the Open School’s discussion of setting. F. Mood or Atmosphere: The mood is the feeling the reader gets while reading the story. The author helps to create the mood by using carefully chosen descriptive or evocative words.
It can be compared to the use of music in films. Examples of mood are: hostile, optimistic, threatening, ominous, bitter, defiant, etc.. For more information, check out the Open School’s discussion of mood. G. Theme: The theme is a recurring social or psychological issue, like aging, violence, alienation or maturity. The author or poet weaves the theme into the plot, which is used as a vehicle to convey it. The title of the story or poem is often of significance in recognizing the theme. What is theme? * It’s the unifying or central concept of a story. It’s a theory of life which acts as the unifying force in a story, or the universal truth which the story illustrates. * The simplest way of defining theme is this: it is the description of the basic challenges of mankind (e. g. “the human condition”). * In most stories it’s not just a simple moral, which is usually what an author thinks about the theme. Identifying a story’s theme: * Start with a clear idea of the character’s situation and the plot. Why did the characters act as they did? * Examine closely the central conflict. Overcoming a conflict is often the basis of the recurrent human challenge in the theme. Look closely at the events and/or characters that seem relevant to the main line of action. Why are they included? * Does the author offer an explicit view point about the theme, or does s/he merely describe the many points of view? * Look for literary devices such as symbolism or irony. They often reveal key elements of the theme. For more information, check out the Open School’s discussion of theme. H. Symbolism: In literature, a symbol is an object, event or a character that’s used to represent an abstract idea; it is something which stands for something else.
Symbols are clues to what’s going on in the story and often stand for key parts of the theme. A symbol is related to metaphor and simile insofar as it’s a type of figurative (indirect/dual) language. The key thing to remember is that readers aren’t told that something is a symbol, unlike a metaphor (the flower ofmy love) or a simile (my love is like a flower). A symbol just sits there inside the story… readers are simply expected to understand its symbolic existence. * White Dove – Peace * Santa/Mistletoe – Christmas * Red Roses – Love * Wedding Ring – Marriage/Eternal Love The mockingbird in To Kill A Mockingbird – a symbol of innocent people being unjustly persecuted * Napoleon in Animal Farm – Joseph Stalin, dictator of the USSR Allusion relies on the reader being able to understand the allusion and being familiar with the meaning hidden behind the words. Example: Describing someone as a “Romeo” makes an allusion to the famous young lover in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare In an allusion the reference may be to a place, event, literary work, myth, or work of art, either directly or by implication. Examples of allusion: 1. David was being such a scrooge!. Scrooge” is the allusion, and it refers to Charles Dicken’s novel, A Christmas Carol. Scrooge was very greedy and unkind, which David was being compared to. ) 2. The software included a Trojan Horse. (allusion on the Trojan horse from Greek mythology) 3. to wash one’s hands of it. (allusion on Pontius Pilatus, who sentenced Jesus to death, but washed his hands afterwards to demonstrate that he was not to blame for it. ) 4. to be as old as Methusalem (allusion on Joseph’s grandfather, who was 969 years old according to the Old Testament) There are many advantages when you use an allusion: 1.
You don’t need to explain or clarify a problem in a lengthy way. 2. You make the reader become active by reflecting on the analogy. 3. You make your message memorable. What is anaphora? Anaphora is a stylistic device that consists of repeating a sequence of words at the beginnings of neighboring clauses to give them emphasis. This rhetorical device is contrasted with epiphora, also called epistrophe, which consists of repeating words at the end of clauses. Examples of anaphora Some examples of the literary works that use anaphora are listed below: In time the savage bull sustains the yoke, In time all haggard hawks will stoop to lure,
In time small wedges cleave the hardest oak, In time the flint is pierced with softest shower. Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy, I, vi. 3 Mad world! Mad kings! Mad composition! William Shakespeare, King John, II, Anticlimax (figure of speech) Anticlimax refers to a figure of speech in which statements gradually descend in order of importance. Unlike climax, anticlimax is the arrangement of a series of words, phrases, or clauses in order of decreasing importance. Examples of anticlimax These are some examples of anticlimax: 1. She is a great writer, a mother and a good humorist. 2. He lost his family, his car and his cell phone.
What is antithesis? Antithesis is a figure of speech which refers to the juxtaposition of opposing or contrasting ideas. It involves the bringing out of a contrast in the ideas by an obvious contrast in the words, clauses, or sentences, within a parallel grammatical structure. Examples: These are examples of antithesis: * Man proposes, God disposes. * “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing. ” Goethe * “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. ” Martin Luther King, Jr. * Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice * Many are called, but few are chosen. What is apostrophe?
Apostrophe is an exclamatory rhetorical figure of speech, when a speaker or writer breaks off and directs speech to an imaginary person or abstract quality or idea. Examples Some examples of apostrophe are listed below: 1. “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, That I am meek and gentle with these butchers! Thou art the ruins of the noblest man That ever lived in the tide of times. ” Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 1 Assonance Assonance is a figure of speech that is found more often in verse than in prose. It refers to the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences. Examples of Assonance
These are some examples: * “the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain” – The Raven By Edgar Allan Poe * “The crumbling thunder of seas” – Robert Louis Stevenson Cataphora Cataphora refers to a figure of speech where an earlier expression refers to or describes a forward expression. Cataphora is the opposite ofanaphora, a reference forward as opposed to backward in the discourse. Examples of cataphora These are some examples: * If you want them, there are cookies in the kitchen. (them is an instance of cataphora because it refers to cookies which hasn’t been mentioned in the discourse prior to that point. * After he had received his orders, the soldier left the barracks. (he is also a cataphoric reference to the soldier which is mentioned later in the discourse) More figures of speech Climax (figure of speech) Climax refers to a figure of speech in which words, phrases, or clauses are arranged in order of increasing importance. Examples of climax “There are three things that will endure: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. ” 1 Corinthians 13:13 3. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream What is Dysphemism? Dysphemism is the use of a harsh, more offensive word instead of one considered less harsh. Dysphemism is often contrasted with euphemism. Dysphemisms are generally used to shock or offend. Examples: These are examples of dysphemism: * Snail mail for postal mail, * Cancer stick in reference to a cigarette. * Egghead for genius. * Worm food for dead. * Pig for policeman. * Bullshit for lies. * Dead tree edition for the paper version of a publication that can be found online * Fag for homosexual man. What is ellipsis?
Ellipsis (or elliptical construction ) is the omission of a word or words. It refers to constructions in which words are left out of a sentence but the sentence can still be understood. Ellipsis helps us avoid a lot of redundancy. In fact there is a lot of redundancy in language and it can be surprising how much can be left out without losing much meaning, particularly when there are contextual clues as to the real meaning. Examples Some examples of ellipsis are listed below: * Lacy can do something about the problem, but I don’t know what (she can do. ) * She can help with the housework; Nancy can (help with the housework), too. John can speak seven languages, but Ron can speak only two (languages. ) The words between parentheses can be omitted and the sentences can still be meaningful. What is euphemism? Euphemism is used to express a mild, indirect, or vague term to substitute for a harsh, blunt, or offensive term. Euphemism is often contrasted with dysphemism. Some euphemisms intend to amuse, while others intend to give positive appearances to negative events or even mislead entirely. Examples: These are examples of euphemism: * Going to the other side for death, * Do it or come together in reference to a sexual act. * Passed away for die. On the streets for homeless. * Adult entertainment for pornography. * Comfort woman for prostitute * Between jobs for unemployed. Hyperbole What is hyperbole? Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally. Hyperboles are exaggerations to create emphasis or effect. Examples Examples of hyperbole include: * The bag weighed a ton. * I was so hungry; I could eat a horse! * She’s older than the hills. * I could sleep for a year; I was so tired. * He’s filthy rich. He’s got tons of money. I’ve told you a million times to help with the housework. What is irony? Irony is a figure of speech in which there is a contradiction of expectation between what is said what is really meant. It is characterized by an incongruity, a contrast, between reality and appearance. There are three types of irony: verbal, dramatic and situational. Types of irony 1. Verbal irony: It is a contrast between what is said and what is meant 2. Dramatic irony: It occurs when the audience or the reader knows more than the character about events. In other words, what the character thinks is true is incongruous with what the audience knows. . Situational irony: This refers to the contrast between the actual result of a situation and what was intended or expected to happen. Examples of irony * His argument was as clear as mud. * The two identical twins were arguing. One of them told the other: “You’re ugly” * The thieves robbed the police station. What is lilotes? Lilotes is a figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite. For example, instead of saying that someone is mean, you can say he is not very generous. Examples of lilotes He’s not a very generous man.
She is not very beautiful. He is not the friendliest person I ‘ve met. What is oxymoron? An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines incongruous or contradictory terms. The plural is oxymorons or oxymora. Examples: An oximoron can be made of an adjective and a noun: * Dark light * Deafening silence * Living dead * Open secret * Virtual reality Oximorons can also be a combination of a noun and a verb. * The silence whistles Personification What is Personification? Personification is a figure of speech in which human characteristics are attributed to an abstract quality, animal, or inanimate object. Examples
Notice the use of personification in William Blake’s poem below: Two Sunflowers Move in the Yellow Room. “Ah, William, we’re weary of weather,” said the sunflowers, shining with dew. “Our traveling habits have tired us. Can you give us a room with a view? ” What are puns? A pun, also called paronomasia, involves a word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. Puns are constructions used in jokes and idioms whose usage and meaning are entirely local to a particular language and its culture.
To be understood, puns require a large vocabulary. Examples: These are examples of puns: * “Atheism is a non-prophet institution” The word “prophet” is put in place of its homophone “profit”, altering the common phrase “non-profit institution”. * “Question: Why do we still have troops in Germany? Answer: To keep the Russians in Czech” – Joke. This joke relies on the aural ambiguity of the homophones “check” and “Czech” What is metalepsis? Metalepsis is a figure of speech in which reference is made to something by means of another thing that is remotely related to it, either through a causal relationship, or through another figure of speech.
Examples of metalepsis 1. Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium? – Chistopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus A reference to the mythological figure Helen of Troy (or some would say, to Aphrodite). Her abduction by Paris was said to be the reason for a fleet of a thousand ships to be launched into battle, initiating the Trojan Wars. 2. I’ve got to catch the worm tomorrow. “The early bird catches the worm” is a common maxim, advocating getting an early start on the day to achieve success.
The subject, by referring to this maxim, is compared to the bird; tomorrow, the speaker will awaken early in order to achieve success. 3. A lead foot is driving behind me. This refers to someone who drives fast. This metalepsis is achieved only through a cause and effect relationship. Lead is heavy and a heavy foot would press the accelerator, and this would cause the car to speed. 4. He experienced a pallid death. While death has the effect of making the body look pale, describing death itself with the adjective pallid created a metaleptic expression. What is a metaphor?
Unlike simile, metaphor (from the Greek language: meaning “transfer”) is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects. It is a figure of speech that compares two or more things not using like or as. In the simplest case, this takes the form: X – is – Y Examples of metaphor: All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; (William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2/7) What is metonymy? Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept.
Examples: Here are some examples of metonymy: * Crown. (For the power of a king. ) * The White House. (Referring to the American administration. ) * Dish. (To refer an entire plate of food. ) * The Pentagon. (For the Department of Defense and the offices of the U. S. Armed Forces. ) * Pen. (For the written word. ) * Sword – (For military force. ) * Hollywood. (For US Cinema. ) * Hand. (For help. ) Consider this quote which is a metonymic adage coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy: “The pen is mightier than the sword. ” What is a simile?
A simile is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the word “like” or “as”. It takes the form of: * X is (not) like Y * X is (not) as Y * X is (not) similar to Y Examples of simile: * He fights like a lion. * He swims as fast as a fish. * He slithers like a snake. * “My dad was a mechanic by trade when he was in the Army, When he got the tools out, he was like a surgeon. ” What is a synecdoche? Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole or the whole of something is used to represent part of it. It is considered to be a special kind of metonymy.
Types and examples of synecdoche * Part of something is used to refer to the whole thing – A hundred head of cattle (using the part head to refer to the whole animal) * The whole of a thing is used to represent part of it – The world treated him badly (using the world to refer to part of the world) * A specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class – A bug (used to refer to any kind of insect or arachnid, even if it is not a true bug) * A general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class – The good book (referring to the Bible or the Qur’an) A material is used to refer to an object composed of that material – Glasses or steel ( referring to spectacles or sword) * A container is used to refer to its contents – A barrel (referring to a barrel of oil) Present tenses he Present Perfect The Formation of the Present Perfect auxiliary verb to have (have/has) + Participle II (the present tense of the verb to have + the past participle of the main verb. ) The Past Perfect The Formation of the Past Perfect auxiliary verb had + Participle II (the past tense of the verb to have + the past participle of the main verb. The Future Perfect The Formation of the Future Perfect auxiliary verb shall/will have + Participle II (the future tense of the verb to have + the past participle of the main verb. ) Present Perfect FORM [has/have + past participle] Examples: * You have seen that movie many times. * Have you seen that movie many times? * You have not seen that movie many times. Complete List of Present Perfect Forms USE 1 Unspecified Time Before Now We use the Present Perfect to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact time is not important.
You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc. We CAN use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc. Examples: * I have seen that movie twenty times. * I think I have met him once before. * There have been many earthquakes in California. * People have traveled to the Moon. * People have not traveled to Mars. * Have you read the book yet? * Nobody has ever climbed that mountain. A: Has there ever been a war in the United States? B: Yes, there has been a war in the United States. How Do You Actually Use the Present Perfect? The concept of “unspecified time” can be very confusing to English learners. It is best to associate Present Perfect with the following topics: TOPIC 1 Experience You can use the Present Perfect to describe your experience. It is like saying, “I have the experience of… ” You can also use this tense to say that you have never had a certain experience. The Present Perfect is NOT used to describe a specific event. Examples: * I have been to France.
This sentence means that you have had the experience of being in France. Maybe you have been there once, or several times. * I have been to France three times. You can add the number of times at the end of the sentence. * I have never been to France. This sentence means that you have not had the experience of going to France. * I think I have seen that movie before. * He has never traveled by train. * Joan has studied two foreign languages. * A: Have you ever met him? B: No, I have not met him. TOPIC 2 Change Over Time We often use the Present Perfect to talk about change that has happened over a period of time.
Examples: * You have grown since the last time I saw you. * The government has become more interested in arts education. * Japanese has become one of the most popular courses at the university since the Asian studies program was established. * My English has really improved since I moved to Australia. TOPIC 3 Accomplishments We often use the Present Perfect to list the accomplishments of individuals and humanity. You cannot mention a specific time. Examples: * Man has walked on the Moon. * Our son has learned how to read. * Doctors have cured many deadly diseases. Scientists have split the atom. TOPIC 4 An Uncompleted Action You Are Expecting We often use the Present Perfect to say that an action which we expected has not happened. Using the Present Perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action to happen. Examples: * James has not finished his homework yet. * Susan hasn’t mastered Japanese, but she can communicate. * Bill has still not arrived. * The rain hasn’t stopped. TOPIC 5 Multiple Actions at Different Times We also use the Present Perfect to talk about several different actions which have occurred in the past at different times.
Present Perfect suggests the process is not complete and more actions are possible. Examples: * The army has attacked that city five times. * I have had four quizzes and five tests so far this semester. * We have had many major problems while working on this project. * She has talked to several specialists about her problem, but nobody knows why she is sick. Time Expressions with Present Perfect When we use the Present Perfect it means that something has happened at some point in our lives before now. Remember, the exact time the action happened is not important. Sometimes, we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience.
We can do this with expressions such as: in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now, etc. Examples: * Have you been to Mexico in the last year? * I have seen that movie six times in the last month. * They have had three tests in the last week. * She graduated from university less than three years ago. She has worked for three different companies so far. * My car has broken down three times this week. NOTICE “Last year” and “in the last year” are very different in meaning. “Last year” means the year before now, and it is considered a specific time which requires Simple Past. In the last year” means from 365 days ago until now. It is not considered a specific time, so it requires Present Perfect. Examples: * I went to Mexico last year. I went to Mexico in the calendar year before this one. * I have been to Mexico in the last year. I have been to Mexico at least once at some point between 365 days ago and now. USE 2 Duration From the Past Until Now (Non-Continuous Verbs) With Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Present Perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. For five minutes,” “for two weeks,” and “since Tuesday” are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect. Examples: * I have had a cold for two weeks. * She has been in England for six months. * Mary has loved chocolate since she was a little girl. Although the above use of Present Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words “live,” “work,” “teach,” and “study” are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs. ADVERB PLACEMENT The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.
Examples: * You have only seen that movie one time. * Have you only seen that movie one time? ACTIVE / PASSIVE Examples: * Many tourists have visited that castle. Active * That castle has been visited by many tourists. Passive Present Perfect Continuous FORM [has/have + been + present participle] Examples: * You have been waiting here for two hours. * Have you been waiting here for two hours? * You have not been waiting here for two hours. Complete List of Present Perfect Continuous Forms USE 1 Duration from the Past Until Now We use the Present Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. For five minutes,” “for two weeks,” and “since Tuesday” are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect Continuous. Examples: * They have been talking for the last hour. * She has been working at that company for three years. * What have you been doing for the last 30 minutes? * James has been teaching at the university since June. * We have been waiting here for over two hours! * Why has Nancy not been taking her medicine for the last three days? USE 2 Recently, Lately You can also use the Present Perfect Continuous WITHOUT a duration such as “for two weeks. Without the duration, the tense has a more general meaning of “lately. ” We often use the words “lately” or “recently” to emphasize this meaning. Examples: * Recently, I have been feeling really tired. * She has been watching too much television lately. * Have you been exercising lately? * Mary has been feeling a little depressed. * Lisa has not been practicing her English. * What have you been doing? IMPORTANT Remember that the Present Perfect Continuous has the meaning of “lately” or “recently. ” If you use the Present Perfect Continuous in a question such as “Have you been feeling alright? , it can suggest that the person looks sick or unhealthy. A question such as “Have you been smoking? ” can suggest that you smell the smoke on the person. Using this tense in a question suggests you can see, smell, hear or feel the results of the action. It is possible to insult someone by using this tense incorrectly. REMEMBER Non-Continuous Verbs/ Mixed Verbs It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Present Perfect Continuous with these verbs, you must use Present Perfect.
Examples: * Sam has been having his car for two years. Not Correct * Sam has had his car for two years. Correct ADVERB PLACEMENT The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc. Examples: * You have only been waiting here for one hour. * Have you only been waiting here for one hour? ACTIVE / PASSIVE Examples: * Recently, John has been doing the work. Active * Recently, the work has been being done by John. Passive NOTE: Present Perfect Continuous is less commonly used in its passive form. Past Perfect FORM [had + past participle] Examples: You had studied English before you moved to New York. * Had you studied English before you moved to New York? * You had not studied English before you moved to New York. Complete List of Past Perfect Forms USE 1 Completed Action Before Something in the Past The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past. Examples: * I had never seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Kauai. * I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet. * Tony knew Istanbul so well because he had visited the city several times. Had Susan ever studied Thai before she moved to Thailand? * She only understood the movie because she had read the book. * Kristine had never been to an opera before last night. * We were not able to get a hotel room because we had not booked in advance. * A: Had you ever visited the U. S. before your trip in 2006? B: Yes, I had been to the U. S. once before. USE 2 Duration Before Something in the Past (Non-Continuous Verbs) With Non-Continuous Verbs and some non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Past Perfect to show that something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past. Examples: We had had that car for ten years before it broke down. * By the time Alex finished his studies, he had been in London for over eight years. * They felt bad about selling the house because they had owned it for more than forty years. Although the above use of Past Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words “live,” “work,” “teach,” and “study” are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs. IMPORTANT Specific Times with the Past Perfect Unlike with the Present Perfect, it is possible to use specific time words or phrases with the Past Perfect.
Although this is possible, it is usually not necessary. Example: * She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996. MOREOVER If the Past Perfect action did occur at a specific time, the Simple Past can be used instead of the Past Perfect when “before” or “after” is used in the sentence. The words “before” and “after” actually tell you what happens first, so the Past Perfect is optional. For this reason, both sentences below are correct. Examples: * She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996. She visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996. HOWEVER If the Past Perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, Past Perfect is not optional. Compare the examples below. Here Past Perfect is referring to a lack of experience rather than an action at a specific time. For this reason, Simple Past cannot be used. Examples: * She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska. Not Correct * She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska. Correct ADVERB PLACEMENT The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc. Examples: You had previously studied English before you moved to New York. * Had you previously studied English before you moved to New York? ACTIVE / PASSIVE Examples: * George had repaired many cars before he received his mechanic’s license. Active * Many cars had been repaired by George before he received his mechanic’s license. Passive Past Perfect Continuous FORM [had been + present participle] Examples: * You had been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived. * Had you been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived? * You had not been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.
Complete List of Past Perfect Continuous Forms USE 1 Duration Before Something in the Past We use the Past Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. “For five minutes” and “for two weeks” are both durations which can be used with the Past Perfect Continuous. Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now, it stops before something else in the past. Examples: * They had been talking for over an hour before Tony arrived. * She had been working at that company for three years when it went out of business. How long had you been waiting to get on the bus? * Mike wanted to sit down because he had been standing all day at work. * James had been teaching at the university for more than a year before he left for Asia. * A: How long had you been studying Turkish before you moved to Ankara? B: I had not been studying Turkish very long. USE 2 Cause of Something in the Past Using the Past Perfect Continuous before another action in the past is a good way to show cause and effect. Examples: * Jason was tired because he had been jogging. * Sam gained weight because he had been overeating. Betty failed the final test because she had not been attending class. Past Continuous vs. Past Perfect Continuous If you do not include a duration such as “for five minutes,” “for two weeks” or “since Friday,” many English speakers choose to use the Past Continuous rather than the Past Perfect Continuous. Be careful because this can change the meaning of the sentence. Past Continuous emphasizes interrupted actions, whereas Past Perfect Continuous emphasizes a duration of time before something in the past. Study the examples below to understand the difference. Examples: * He was tired because he was exercising so hard.
This sentence emphasizes that he was tired because he was exercising at that exact moment. * He was tired because he had been exercising so hard. This sentence emphasizes that he was tired because he had been exercising over a period of time. It is possible that he was still exercising at that moment OR that he had just finished. REMEMBER Non-Continuous Verbs / Mixed Verbs It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Past Perfect Continuous with these verbs, you must use Past Perfect.
Examples: * The motorcycle had been belonging to George for years before Tina bought it. Not Correct * The motorcycle had belonged to George for years before Tina bought it. Correct ADVERB PLACEMENT The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc. Examples: * You had only been waiting there for a few minutes when she arrived. * Had you only been waiting there for a few minutes when she arrived? ACTIVE / PASSIVE Examples: * Chef Jones had been preparing the restaurant’s fantastic dinners for two years before he moved to Paris.
Active * The restaurant’s fantastic dinners had been being prepared by Chef Jones for two years before he moved to Paris. Passive NOTE: Passive forms of the Past Perfect Continuous are not common. Future Perfect Future Perfect has two different forms: “will have done” and “be going to have done. ” Unlike Simple Future forms, Future Perfect forms are usually interchangeable. FORM Future Perfect with “Will” [will have + past participle] Examples: * You will have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U. S. * Will you have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U. S.? You will not have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U. S. FORM Future Perfect with “Be Going To” [am/is/are + going to have + past participle] Examples: * You are going to have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U. S. * Are you going to have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U. S.? * You are not going to have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U. S. NOTE: It is possible to use either “will” or “be going to” to create the Future Perfect with little or no difference in meaning. Complete List of Future Perfect Forms
USE 1 Completed Action Before Something in the Future The Future Perfect expresses the idea that something will occur before another action in the future. It can also show that something will happen before a specific time in the future. Examples: * By next November, I will have received my promotion. * By the time he gets home, she is going to have cleaned the entire house. * I am not going to have finished this test by 3 o’clock. * Will she have learned enough Chinese to communicate before she moves to Beijing? * Sam is probably going to have completed the proposal by the time he leaves this afternoon. By the time I finish this course, I will have taken ten tests. * How many countries are you going to have visited by the time you turn 50? Notice in the examples above that the reference points (marked in italics) are in Simple Present rather than Simple Future. This is because the interruptions are in time clauses, and you cannot use future tenses in time clauses. USE 2 Duration Before Something in the Future (Non-Continuous Verbs) With Non-Continuous Verbs and some non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Future Perfect to show that something will continue up until another action in the future. Examples: I will have been in London for six months by the time I leave. * By Monday, Susan is going to have had my book for a week. Although the above use of Future Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words “live,” “work,” “teach,” and “study” are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs. REMEMBER No Future in Time Clauses Like all future forms, the Future Perfect cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions such as: when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc. Instead of Future Perfect, Present Perfect is used.
Examples: * I am going to see a movie when I will have finished my homework. Not Correct * I am going to see a movie when I have finished my homework. Correct ADVERB PLACEMENT The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc. Examples: * You will only have learned a few words. * Will you only have learned a few words? * You are only going to have learned a few words. * Are you only going to have learned a few words? ACTIVE / PASSIVE Examples: * They will have completed the project before the deadline. Active * The project will have been completed before the deadline.
Passive * They are going to have completed the project before the deadline. Active * The project is going to have been completed before the deadline. Passive Future Perfect Continuous Future Perfect Continuous has two different forms: “will have been doing ” and “be going to have been doing. ” UnlikeSimple Future forms, Future Perfect Continuous forms are usually interchangeable. FORM Future Perfect Continuous with “Will” [will have been + present participle] Examples: * You will have been waiting for more than two hours when her plane finally arrives. * Will you have been waiting for more than two hours when her plane finally arrives? You will not have been waiting for more than two hours when her plane finally arrives. FORM Future Perfect Continuous with “Be Going To” [am/is/are + going to have been + present participle] Examples: * You are going to have been waiting for more than two hours when her plane finally arrives. * Are you going to have been waiting for more than two hours when her plane finally arrives? * You are not going to have been waiting for more than two hours when her plane finally arrives. NOTE: It is possible to use either “will” or “be going to” to create the Future Perfect Continuous with little or no difference in meaning.
Complete List of Future Perfect Continuous Forms USE 1 Duration Before Something in the Future We use the Future Perfect Continuous to show that something will continue up until a particular event or time in the future. “For five minutes,” “for two weeks,” and “since Friday” are all durations which can be used with the Future Perfect Continuous. Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous and the Past Perfect Continuous; however, with Future Perfect Continuous, the duration stops at or before a reference point in the future. Examples: They will have been talking for over an hour by the time Thomas arrives. * She is going to have been working at that company for three years when it finally closes. * James will have been teaching at the university for more than a year by the time he leaves for Asia. * How long will you have been studying when you graduate? * We are going to have been driving for over three days straight when we get to Anchorage. * A: When you finish your English course, will you have been living in New Zealand for over a year? B: No, I will not have been living here that long.
Notice in the examples above that the reference points (marked in italics) are in Simple Present rather than Simple Future. This is because these future events are intime clauses, and you cannot use future tenses in time clauses. USE 2 Cause of Something in the Future Using the Future Perfect Continuous before another action in the future is a good way to show cause and effect. Examples: * Jason will be tired when he gets home because he will have been jogging for over an hour. * Claudia’s English will be perfect when she returns to Germany because she is going to have been studying English in the United States for over two years.
Future Continuous vs. Future Perfect Continuous If you do not include a duration such as “for five minutes,” “for two weeks” or “since Friday,” many English speakers choose to use the Future Continuous rather than the Future Perfect Continuous. Be careful because this can change the meaning of the sentence. Future Continuous emphasizes interrupted actions, whereas Future Perfect Continuous emphasizes a duration of time before something in the future. Study the examples below to understand the difference. Examples: * He will be tired because he will be exercising so hard.
This sentence emphasizes that he will be tired because he will be exercising at that exact moment in the future. * He will be tired because he will have been exercising so hard. This sentence emphasizes that he will be tired because he will have been exercising for a period of time. It is possible that he will still be exercising at that moment OR that he will just have finished. REMEMBER No Future in Time Clauses Like all future forms, the Future Perfect Continuous cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions such as: when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc.
Instead of Future Perfect Continuous, Present Perfect Continuous is used. Examples: * You won’t get a promotion until you will have been working here as long as Tim. Not Correct * You won’t get a promotion until you have been working here as long as Tim. Correct AND REMEMBER Non-Continuous Verbs / Mixed Verbs It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Future Perfect Continuous with these verbs, you must use Future Perfect . Examples: Ned will have been having his driver’s license for over two years. Not Correct * Ned will have had his driver’s license for over two years. Correct ADVERB PLACEMENT The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc. Examples: * You will only have been waiting for a few minutes when her plane arrives. * Will you only have been waiting for a few minutes when her plane arrives? * You are only going to have been waiting for a few minutes when her plane arrives. * Are you only going to have been waiting for a few minutes when her plane arrives?
ACTIVE / PASSIVE Examples: * The famous artist will have been painting the mural for over six months by the time it is finished. Active * The mural will have been being painted by the famous artist for over six months by the time it is finished. Passive * The famous artist is going to have been painting the mural for over six months by the time it is finished. Active * The mural is going to have been being painted by the famous artist for over six months by the time it is finished. Passive NOTE: Passive forms of the Future Perfect Continuous are not common.