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Common mistakes

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The clock has struck.
The clock struck.

If we are speaking of an action just finished, we must use the present perfect instead of the simple past tense. For example, immediately after the clock strikes, we shouldn't say The clock struck, but The clock has struck.

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I understand the lesson now.
I'm understanding the lesson now.

As a rule, verbs denoting a state rather than an act have no continuous forms, like understand, know, believe, like, love, belong, prefer, consist, mean, hear, see, etc.

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If he'll ask me, I will stay.
If he asks me, I will stay.

Use the present tense in a future conditional in the if clause and the future tense in the main clause

But the future tense may be used in an if clause expressing a request: If you will/'ll give me some money I will/'ll buy you a drink.

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They asked him to be captain, but he refuses.
They asked him to be captain, but he refused.

If you begin with a verb referring to past time, keep the verb forms in the past. The same rule applies to tenses throughout a composition.

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You ought to have come yesterday.
You ought to come yesterday.
Also possible:
You should have come yesterday.

Don't use must and ought to as past tenses. To express a past duty (which wasn't done) use the perfect infinitive without to after ought to or should, or expressions such as had to, was obliged to.

In indirect speech use must and ought to as past tenses: He said he must do it.

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