1. You can use the noun without any determiner at all.

• in the singular, if it is a proper noun

Boston is on the east coast.

• in the singular, if it is an uncountable noun

I can hear music.

• in the plural, if it is a countable noun

Tigers have black stripes.

When you use a plural countable noun without the article, you are seeing the noun in a general way – ‘tigers in general’.

2. You can use the noun with either of the ‘articles’, a or the:

• use a with singular, countable nouns

I can see a car.

• use the with singular countable nouns

I can see the car.

• use the with plural countable nouns

I can see the cars.

• use the with uncountable nouns

I can see the water.

The articles are the most common determiners in English. Their main job is to say whether the noun is ‘definite’ or ‘indefinite’.


We use the present simple
– to talk about regular habits or repeat actions. Words that describe how often or when are often used (e.g. always, generally, normally, usually, often, sometimes, rarely, never, every day, every evening).
– to talk about permanent situations: my parents own a restaurant.
– to talk about facts or generally accepted truths.
– to give instructions and directions
– to tell stories and talk about films, books and plays.
In the film, the tea lady falls in love with the Prime Minister.

2. Present continuous
am/is/are (not) + ving
– to talk about temporary situations:
My cousin is living in Thailand at the moment. (= he doesn’t normally live there)
Words like at the moment, currently, now, this week/month/year are often used.
– to talk about actions happening at the moment of speaking
– to talk about trends or changing situations
The price of petrol is rising dramatically.
– to talk about something that happen more often then expected, often to show envy or to criticise with words like always, constantly, continually, forever:
My mum’s always saying I don’t help enough! (complaint)
He’s always visiting exciting places! (envy)

3.Past simple
– to talk about single past completed actions. Often the time is mentioned.
– to give a series of actions in the order that they happened
– to talk about past repeated actions.
When her son got older he often went out to visit his friends after school.
Notice that used to and would can also be used.
– to talk about long-term situations in the past which are no longer true.
Bill worked for the police force for over 17 years.

4. Past continuous
– to provide the background scene to an action or event (usually in the past simple). We often use words like when, while and as:
He was doing his homework in his bedroom when the burglar came into the house.

– when we want to emphasize the activity without focusing on its completion.

5. Used to and would + infinitive

– to talk about past repeat actions.
She used to keep the front door locked. (but she stopped doing this)
She would leave the door unlocked whenever she was at home.
– would is unusual in the negative form and in Yes/No questions.
We used to + infinitive to talk about permanent situations that are usually no longer true.
We do not use “used to” if we want to talk about how long the situation lasted.
Bill worked for the police force for over 17 years.
– we do not use would with state verbs

6. Present Perfect simple
– to talk about a time period that is not finished (e.g. today, this week):
I’ve written a rough plan this morning. (it is still morning)
– to show that something happened at some point in the past before now. We don’t state when it happened.
I’ve collected plenty of information. (at some point before now and I will use it to write my essay).
The following time expression are often used: ever, never, before, up to now, still, so far.
It’s the longest I’ve ever had to write. (at any point before now)
– to talk about a present situation which started in the past, usually with for/since.
– to talk about something that happened at an unstated time in the past but is connected to the present.
I’ve read all the books on the reading list. (I have the notes now) P19 PDF

7. Present perfect continuous

8. Past perfect simple

– When we are talking about the past and want to mention something that happened earlier.

His father was a composer and his grandfather had also been a musician.

– With words like when, as soon as, by the time, after to show the order of events.

When Mozart was born, five of his siblings had already died.

– To talk about an indefinite time before a particular point in the past, often with words like always, sometimes, never, before, by + fixed time.

By the time he was six, the little boy had written a composition of his own.

– To report past events using reporting verbs.

The man told me he had met my father a long time before.

9. Past perfect continuous

to focus on how long an activity continued or to focus on the activity itself.