Grammar 8


Continuous Tense (Review)

This lesson reviews the key points of the last five lessons.

In some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish between similar-looking clause patterns. Consider the following sentences:

Sentence Pattern Explanation

He is upset.


Here, the word "is" functions as a linking verb. The meaning of the sentence is "He = upset." Therefore, the pattern is equative.

He is playing.


Here, the word "is" helps to form the present continuous tense of the verb "to play." The meaning of the sentence is: "He continues to play at this moment." Think of "is playing" as one big verb. The pattern of the sentence is intransitive.

He is playing the guitar.


Here again, the verb "is" helps to form the present continuous tense of the verb "to play." But in this case, the verb "to play" has taken an object (the guitar), so the pattern is transitive.


Determining the Function of "Is"

How can you tell if the word "is" (or any of its many conjugations) is functioning as a linking verb or helping the main verb to form the continuous tense? Here are some helpful hints:

Lastly, keep in mind that everything we have said about "is", above, is equally true of the many other conjugations of the verb "to be."

Study the following sentences. None of them mean "He equals singing." Rather, all of them are variations of the continuous tense. In each of these sentences, the highlighted words can be thought of as "one big verb."

Sentences in the Continuous Tense
  • I am singing.
  • I was singing.
  • You are singing.
  • You were singing.
  • He is singing.
  • Sally has been singing.
  • Joe had been singing.
  • They have been singing.
  • George will be singing.
  • Linda is going to be singing.

Instructions for the Quiz:

Find the base clause.