Episode 3: Using Different Tenses to Improve Your Level

using different tenses to improve your level

Using different tenses can really help you to improve  – you are going to sound more natural when speaking in English, and be able to describe more complex situations.

So, stop using just the present simple tense!

This episode shows you exactly how to do it!

Here is the sample text that I use in the audio:

I read engineering at Bristol University and I graduated in 2006.  Upon graduation, I went to work for a local manufacturing company where I learnt a lot about production and product development.

After working at the company for 10 years, I decided to become undefended and, in 2018, I set up my own consulting company, helping small companies to get started with engineering projects.

The company has only been going for a few months now, but I am really enjoying it, and we are starting to see some great results.

Over the next few years, I plan to expand the business, move into new markets, and help technical entrepreneurs from overseas.  I am also going to make a big effort to present at more conferences and to really advance my speaking career.

What about you?  Do you use different tenses when speaking English?

Let me know in the comments section below.

I hope you find this episode useful and all the best!

Paul

Here is the full transcript:

In this episode, I’m going to be talking about how to use different tenses to improve your level. Hi there. I’m Paul Urwin, and welcome to the Business English Community Podcast where the world of business meets the English language. We discuss culture, strategies, technique, vocabulary, grammar, and much much more. Find out more at businessenglishcommunity.com.

Hi there. I hope you’re having a fantastic day so far, and welcome to episode number three of the Business English Community Podcast. I’m your host, Paul Urwin, and if you are an intermediate or advanced speaker of English looking to take your business English to the next level, then this is the podcast for you. Before we get started, I just wanted to invite you to check out our YouTube channel. We have some really fantastic videos on there. You can find a link on our website, or simply enter business English community into YouTube.

Okay, well today I’m going to be talking about different tenses and how to use them effectively, but first of all our business word of the week, and this week’s business word is blue chip. Blue chip. You might hear the expression ‘blue chip shares’ or a ‘blue chip company.’ Well, what does that actually mean, or what does that actually refer to? It refers to a company that is a very big company usually, very safe and very well recognized within the marketplace, probably the sort of brand name that you would have heard of.

Now, these companies are supposed to be very safe, stable investments although one or two of these blue chip companies have actually gone bankrupt, so they are certainly not protected completely. But they are generally speaking safe, well established companies, companies that would normally appear in indices such as the FTSE 100 in the UK or the S&P or the Standard & Poor’s 500 in the US.

Okay, well where does this expression come from? Well, it comes from poker where the blue chips are traditionally the highest value chips, and therefore it makes sense that the blue chip companies or the blue chip shares or the blue chip stocks are the highest value companies, stocks or shares. I’m talking about companies such as Barclays HSBC, GlaxoSmithKline and Diageo to name but a few. They are really well recognized and well established companies, so that’s word of the week: blue chip.

Now onto today’s main topic which is all about how to use tenses to improve your level. Now, what happens to a lot of English learners or a lot of business English learners is that they get to a certain level, and they are able to manage certain tenses, but then they take the decision to keep everything simple. Often you will see or often I certainly have the experience of working with many students who operate in one or two tenses, they’ve kind of made the decision to keep things as simple as possible.

I think at the beginning that makes a lot of sense. We often receive the advice to keep things simple, but as you look to improve your level of English, I think it is really, really important that you learn how the other tenses work, and you learn how to incorporate them into your language, incorporate them into your written texts, incorporate them into your conversations. It’s going to enable you to sound much more natural. It’s going to make you a more effective communicator.

I think with a number of students, their use of tenses particularly keeping things too simple, is something that can be holding them back. So is this an area that is holding you back? Well if it is, the good news is that we can absolutely help you to overcome that. Let’s go through a little bit of an example now.

I’m going to give you an example of the type of text or the type of conversation that happens at its most basic level. Here we go. I like to read. I go to church. I watch movies. I like to read. I go to church. I watch movies. So three very simple sentences there, and I’m sure you can understand what is going on, but there’s no time frame attached really to those phrases apart from the fact that they are all in the present of course, but it doesn’t tell any history. It doesn’t give you any history for that particular person. It doesn’t give you any context. It doesn’t give you any idea of what they are planning to do in the future.

Often in more complex conversations, it’s really good to focus on a time frame, and to give someone a little bit of a story. Stories are very interesting, and stories really captivate people when you are talking to them. Stories of course do normally include a past, a present and some kind of future.

So before we go into this text that I’m going to share with you in just a second, I would really encourage you to start thinking in the past, in the present and in the future. So here’s the example, and it’s based on someone talking about their career. If you want to follow this text, I’m going to put it up on the website, so that is businessenglishcommunity.com/episodethree. Businessenglishcommunity.com/episodethree. So, here we go.

I read engineering at Bristol University, and I graduated in 2006. Upon graduation, I went to work for a local manufacturing company where I learned a lot about production and product development. After working at the company for 10 years, I decided to become independent. In 2018, I set up my own consulting company, helping small companies to get started with engineering projects. The company has only been going for a few months now, but I am really enjoying it, and we are starting to see some great results.

Over the next few years, I plan to expand the business, move into new markets, and help technical entrepreneurs from overseas. I am also going to make a big effort to present at more conferences, and to really advance my speaking career.

Okay, so that’s in a few different sections of that text, but I’m sure that just listening to it you can appreciate that there’s a lot more depth to it than simply saying something like: I study engineering. I work in a company, and so on. There’s a real timeline associated with that story.

So, I read engineering at Bristol University. I graduated in 2006. This is all in the past. I went to work for a local manufacturing company where I learned a lot about production and product development, all in the past. After working at the company for 10 years, so we have a clear point in the timeline there, I then decided, I decided but we’re still in the past, to become independent. In 2018, we’re using an actual date here to again set a point on the timeline, I set up my own consulting company.

So now, we move forward to the present. The company has only been going for a few months now. The company has only been going for a few months now. Now that is actually the present perfect continuous tense, something that started in the past but continues to this day. It started in the past, so it started, the company started a few months ago but it’s still going right now. So that’s the present perfect continuous, and I would really encourage you to visualize this on a timeline. That would be something that started in the past with an arrow coming forward to today.

So the company has been going for a few months now, but I am really enjoying it, so the present continuous. What is happening right now? I am really enjoying it, and we are starting, again present continuous, we are starting to see some great results. Then we’re on to the future. Over the next few years I plan to expand. That is one of the forms of the future tense. It’s actually a present tense being used to express an idea in the future. Then we’ve got the use of going to, so I am also going to make, I’m going to make a big effort … so that is the future with going to.

So we’ve got a clear time frame in that text, and if you do have a few minutes, I really would encourage you to jump on the website and follow that text through. But really the message is that we are dealing with different time frames. It’s a little bit more complex, but it gives a lot more substance to the story. And that’s one of the differences between a basic level or lower intermediate speaker and an upper intermediate or advanced speaker.

The upper intermediate speaker is going to be able to manage these tenses much more comfortably, and it really shows, it really, really shows. So if you’re not sure about this, I would really encourage you to give it a go. It really is going to have an impact on your level. It’s one of those things that people do notice. People can tell what tenses you are using, and it makes you sound much more accomplished if you are actually using a range of tenses.

It does help of course to visualize that timeline, to visualize where you are, and to plan out your conversations or your stories in advance. Often thinking about something from the past through to the present, and then on to the future is the easiest way of doing things, but as you get even more advanced, you’ll be able to mix up these tenses and mix up these time frames no problem at all.

Okay, well I hope you found that useful. I’m going to finish up this episode with our phrase of the week, which is to start from scratch. What does to start from scratch mean? Well, it means to go back to the beginning and start again. To go back to square one is another very similar expression. Let me give you an example.

It simply hasn’t worked. We’re going to have to start from scratch. It simply hasn’t worked. We’re going to have to start from scratch, we’re going to have to start from zero.

Okay, well that’s it for today. I hope you’ve really enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for listening. I really, really, really appreciate it. If you have any questions, you can email me. I’m at info@businessenglishcommunity.com. That’s info@businessenglishcommunity.com.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, I invite you to check out our online learning platform and community at businessenglishcommunity.com. The Business English Community is the essential resource for intermediate and advanced learners who want to take their business English to the next level. We offer extensive audio and video libraries, live webinars and ask me anything calls, and very importantly, an active community where you can get answers to all of your business English questions.

If you really want to take action to improve your level quickly, then sign up at businessenglishcommunity.com.

Well, that’s it from me for this week. Have a fantastic week ahead, and I’ll see you next time. All the best. Bye for now.

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