How Are You? How Ya Doin’? How Does One Understand Verb Tense Consistency?

A student sent a series of questions to me regarding verb tense consistency. She had heard an exchange in a TV series where one character apologized for his strange behavior recently. The listener responded by saying, “I didn’t notice.” In similar situations, this attentive language learner had heard other verb forms used. Wouldn’t it also be possible to say, “I haven’t noticed” or even “I hadn’t noticed”? Indeed, sometimes more than one answer is possible because it depends on the speaker’s perspective:

  • I didn’t notice. = Nothing strange caught my attention in your past behavior.
  • I haven’t noticed. = Up to this point, there has been nothing strange about your behavior.
  • I hadn’t noticed. = I hadn’t even thought about this until you mentioned it.

We teach general rules of thumb about verb tense consistency. One is to respond with the same verb form used in a question. For example, the short answers to Did you notice? are Yes, I did and No, I didn’t. But there are exceptions, especially once we go beyond yes-no questions. Just how many responses can you think of to How are you? That question itself can become How are you doing? In either case, one can say I’m fine or I’m doing just fine.

16666579868_76a5b2cb26_mIf you’d like to have a productive discussion about verb tense consistency and give your upper level students practice using different verb forms in the same situation, please consider my Verb Tense Consistency_handout. Hopefully, the topic of fairy tales will amuse your learners. Enjoy!

Photo credit:

Cinderella’s Castle by Luis Brizzante. Retrieved from the Creative Commons on Flickr.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. good day says:

    I don’t know where I put my question so I’ll put it here
    do u make avideo about ing pronunciation ?
    because I really need that from u I love your way .

    if u have already make avido about ing pronunciation please give me the link

    I’m sorry for my bad english and thank you for your all efforts

    1. Hello. I’m sorry, but I don’t have a video on that topic. You might like the explanation of a colleague of mine, Rachel.
      Also, try this resource. Look under “Nasal” sounds for “ng.”
      Good luck!

  2. good day says:

    i’m sorry I didn’t say hello or any thing so hello and thanks for reply
    and I’m sorry I have anther question ;
    in this video

    /l/ in the middle position when L between a vowels are we pronounce L two L one unreleased and the other released like alive
    we pronounce it (al-live )
    I’m sorry for my bad english I hope you could understand what I mean

  3. good day says:

    and how I can pronounce already and alright
    thanks in advance

    1. Hello. See if these links help.
      The “L” connects to the “R.” As the /l/ drops, let your tongue move back into the /r/.

  4. good day says:

    thanks for reply

    for word (alive) I was asking about are we pronounce it with two L because I feel like you pronounced it in the video above as two L but I think it’s one L … any way thanks very much for reply I know you are so Busy and I appreciate that and I wishes you all the best and have a good day


    1. Hi. Yes, there’s one /l/, but you need to hold out the /l/ as you move into the second vowel sound. Let the /l/ link to that second vowel sound. Regards!

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