This article is part of the Today We Learn English! series.

Hello, child! Today, you are engaged in lesson EIGHT of “Today we Learn English!” Can you believe, already? Surely we are talented and gifted. Today, we face the most dire of the elements of English, both to have spoken and to have written. It is in this module that we process the most hoary of subjects: The Tenses. The tenses accomplish three things:


  • To tell when it happens.
  • To tell when it has happened.
  • To tell when it is going to have happened.

Once a student can grasp and devour these fairly simple ones (the three things), one can begin to really practice English as an art rather than a chore. No longer will one be rankled against the uncertainty of when a thing is going to have happened: with tenses, we already know it!

Please begin to consider:

I: The Particular Prior Tense.



The Particular Prior Tense describes a term before a term before a thing has been happening: simply imagine this:

  • Once, in the past, you ate a meat rib.
  • During the time you ate the rib, you felt it necessary, in the future, to define a time during which you were eating the rib.
  • The term you describe is not one fixed point in time, but a period of time: i.e. the time during which you ate a rib.

You are now equipped and prepared to use this tense in your conversations!

The operative words in this tense could not be more simple:

  • “I used to…”
  • “I have been…”
  • “I used to have been having been…”

An example of this tense follows:

Mary: I used to have been having been enrolled in the weaving academy.
Dorroile: Did it used to have been having been a boon to your understanding of weaving?
Dorroile: I believe it was, yes—
Mary: Yes, I believe it was.

Please note that in the Particular Prior Tense, it was often necessary for one to have answered one’s own question before one’s opponent had answered. This is due to the fact that the Particular Prior Tense requires extra thought and preparation time for one’s opponent, and one’s opponent should not have been expected to have answered immediately.

Another peculiarity of the Particular Prior Tense has lain within one’s ability to use it to the detriment of one’s opponent:

Arthur: I used to have not been having been to the circus in quite some time.
Weyre: Not even when you used to have been one of the animals at the circus?
Arthur: In your dreams! (But inside, Arthur is taken aback!)

Do you see? Arthur has been put off balance for the rest of the day. Is he too sensitive, or is it the part of the tense? Language knows!

II) The Preemptive Tense


The Preemptive Tense describes a time in which something has not yet happened, but it is known that a thing will happen, and the thing must be stopped from having happened before it is allowed to. No special words are required to use this tense, but it would behoove our student to have a palpable grasp on the future of events (please refer to section FOUR, “the future of events.”)

Example of the Preemptive Tense in a genial conversation:

Mary: The municipal vegetable lockers are secure for the night, but in my frivolity I find cause to withdraw a turnip. Would it be possible, if I were to—
Dorroile: Stop it!

As we can see, Mary has been resoundingly objected to before her illegal notions can come to light. Dorroile has employed the Preemptive Tense in its most proper form.

Please be aware that errors in grammar loom within the Preemptive Tense. Here is an example of an improper conversation using the Preemptive Tense. See if you can lament what has gone wrong:

Mary: Do you wish to be disgusted? Hark: Allan and Courtney are, right as we speak, interned in a coitus.
Dorroile: No! I don’t want to be told!

Did you lament the difficulty of this passage? Of course you did: Dorroile failed to prevent Mary from telling him embarrassing information that he did not want to be told.

III) The Somnolent Tense


The Somnolent Tense refers to a period of time during which the speaker was dreaming, but was dreaming about being awake and doing ordinary things. The Somnolent Tense is ranked among the most annoying of tenses, because people do not like that. No particular words are required for the Somnolent Tense, but the ability to sleep must be unimpeached.

Please consider this exchange:

Mary: Last night I was restless because I had the feeling that my bed was a giant tile mosaic and I had to endlessly turn over each tile so that it would turn the proper color and spell out that I was asleep, do you understand?
Dorroile: Yes, but I don’t care.

People do not like to be told of tedious and frustrating dreams, but it is often important for a speaker to tell them, especially during the moon’s superstitious phases. Avoid being rude to speakers during this time to avoid bad luck, as in the following microdrama:

Arthur: Last night I dreamt that I was shaving, but no sooner had I shaved then did the whiskers reappear thicker than before, so I had to begin a new shave, anew.
Weyre: Was I in your dream?
Arthur: Later in the dream, you were there.
Weyre: I hope I took this opportunity in dream to punch you without consequence.
Arthur: I thought that you were my friend.
Weyre: Alas, my taxes are being audited.

The logic and reason of the situation may tell us that Weyre’s tax audit is unrelated to his having been brusque with Arthur, but will we ever really, really know?

IIII) The Discount Tense


The Discount Tense is employed to describe a situation in which the price of a mercantile item was higher at one point in time, but now is lower in the present point in time.

Please refer to this example:

  • A rubber robe is valued at market for $30
  • Due to overheating, rubber robes are devalued to merely $22
  • During the winter, the robes are once again attuned to style, and their price resorts to $30

Which of these premises illustrates the Discount Tense? You would be well advised to choose the second one.

This exchange of utterance illuminates the Discount Tense:

Mary: Tins of sour clams have been reduced in price due to the considerable danger associated with them.
Dorroile: I intend to buy them all and then resell them at vast prices when their reputation is revindicated.
Mary: I hope you know what you’re doing.

By expressing his intent to buy discounted items, Dorroile has deployed the Passive Discount Tense Brace your bones for the ensuing exercise:

In each of these examples, state whether Dorroile has commissioned the Discount Tense or the Passive Discount Tense or Neither Between The Two:

Dorroile: I will buy a hectare of loam once the price is less harrowing.
Dorroile: This chair is already wet.
Dorroile: This tramp is valueless now that diabetes has claimed his leg.
Dorroile: I intend to commit retail fraud.
Dorroile: The price of this frock has receded considerably since its heyday.

IIIII) The Miserable Tense


The Miserable Tense is properly discharged when all optimism has failed. Do not mistake the Miserable Tense for the Cynical Tense, because the Miserable Tense is enrolled only in situations during which the speaker has dismissed the possibility of ever again being happy in the future:

Mary: Dorroile, would you deign to put your hand under my shirt?
Dorroile: Why bother?
Mary: Your despair is my plaything.
Dorroile: (Says nothing)

This is one of the last tenses at which language is possible. The only tense beyond the Miserable Tense is the Submiserable Tense, otherwise known as the Dissociative Tense. The Dissociative Tense occurs when the speaker says things and then becomes quickly unaware of them:

Mary: Dorroile, did you finally get out of bed?
Dorroile: One day I will cut you and your family down like so many stalks of wheat, for I am the Lord’s thresher.
Mary: I said, did you finally get out of bed?
Dorroile: I heard you, and I said yes, that I did.
Mary: Your fugue has deepened by another octave yet.

IIIIII) The Mannerly Tense


A student is pressed to consider the Mannerly Tense in those situations in which one is required to speak to the following classes of person:

  • A courtly superior
  • One who is taller or more attractive
  • A person of more material means or of a higher caste
  • One who is born of a superior race

In these instances, the Mannerly Tense shows that the speaker has acknowledged and come to terms with the social context of the intercourse. Observe the following concert, and let us pretend that Weyre is of a somehow higher station than Arthur:

Arthur: Please let me speak to you.
Weyre: No.
Arthur: Thank you.

Consider the issue that Weyre has not agreed to condescend to speak to Arthur. Arthur has no choice but to be delighted with Weyre’s refusal.

In some situations, it may be unclear who is afforded a superior station. Take this example: let us assume that Mary is taller than Dorroile, but Dorroile is more attractive than Mary:

Mary: Please, may I presume to speak?
Dorroile: If you desire to speak, I would sooner die than prevent it, your grace.
Mary: I lack the words to express my gratitude that you would stoop to allow one such as myself to even open my eyes in your presence.
Dorroile: I beg of you to speak if you desire to do so, or I may vomit from the very thought of your emotional discomfort, however momentary.
Mary: Wait, Dorroile, which of us is superior?
Dorroile: I believe that I am.
Mary: I beg your forgiveness, my one inspiration.

Section Review: Please categorize each of the following concords by the tense or tenses ejaculated within, and describe why you believe you are correct:

Weyre: Arthur, I heard that tins of sour clams have fallen in price yet again, may I borrow money from you to buy them?
Arthur: Weyre, I have hated you since the day you were born, and one day I will twist you apart like a kitten.
Weyre: What is this that you say?
Arthur: I said what?

Dorroile: Mary, I bought a new bed at a drastically reduced price, and I was hoping that—
Mary: No! Stop!

Arthur: Weyre, did you used to have been having being alright? You once had been having been looking peaked.
Weyre: I want to be alone forever.

Dorroile: Mary, I once dreamt that I was climbing a—
Mary: Stop! I don’t want to hear it!
Dorroile: If it pleases you, o perfect being, I would with your consent take my leave now.
Mary: Another one of my teeth fell out!

Please stop consorting now and accord your papers to your majordomo.

– Dr. David Thorpe (@Arr)

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