Thursday, July 5, 2007

Complaining with the Progressive Tenses

Perhaps one of the basic life skills ESL students need to learn is how to complain. After all, some say it's the American way! In fact, there are many valid reasons to complain and everyone should know how to complain, especially when he or she is taken advantage of by a merchant. Teaching ESL students how to effectively complain in such situations is a bit more complex.

However, teaching ESL students how to complain the every day way is a bit more simple. If the English language learner knows how to use the Present Progressive or the Past Progressive, then he or she knows how to complain! All you have to do is teach them to use the word "always" with a progressive tense.

Here are some examples of complaints using progressive tenses:

John is always leaving the toilet seat up!

Mary and Mark are always talking during class.

We were always arguing, so we got a divorce.

Using "always" with a progressive tense expresses anger or annoyance with the situation. I could also say, "John always leaves the toilet seat up." Using the Simple Present tense expresses his habit, and perhaps, it expresses my annoyance. However, using the Present Progressive in this situation clearly expresses my annoyance.


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