The response to the introduction of the NewsPlus Editorial Conference platform has been very encouraging. Our appreciation goes to Harriman Isa Oyofo, Chrispiana Age and all others who will help to identify common mistakes in English that we hope to rectify on the platform.
Now, let’s address our first question.
Question: What is wrong with the sentence; Sadly, the days of people using proper English are went?
Answer: The use of the wrong participle, went.
The correct answer should be: Sadly, the days of people using proper English are gone
‘Gone’ is the past participle of the verb ‘go’. Participles come in two forms: past and present. They are two of the FIVE principal parts of a verb as listed below:
Regular verb: help Irregular verb: go
Simple Present: help(s) go(es)
Simple Past: helped went
Past Participle: helped gone
Present Participle: helping going
Infinitive: to help to go
Markers: How do we identify the different participles?
The present participles of verbs always end in –ing. (As in ‘helping’ and ‘going’ above)
The past participles of regular verbs end consistently in -ed (As in ‘helped’ above)
The past participles of irregular verbs have no consistent ending (As in ‘gone’ above).They differ considerably.
Irregular verbs, also known as strong verbs, do not follow the usual rules of verb forms.
Go went gone
Sing sang sung
Bring brought brought
The past participles of sing and bring end differently despite the fact that the two verbs end in –ing.
Anecdote: When my daughter was in grade 4, she refused to accept the correction that the past participle of ‘bring’ is ‘brought’. Her argument was that if the past participle of ‘ring’ is ‘rang’, then the past participle of ‘bring’ should be ‘brang’. Therefore, she used to say I brang my water bottle back from school.
How did we convince her to accept the correction? By showing her the explanation in the English dictionary and convincing her that the dictionary contains answers to most grammatical problems.
So, how do you confirm the correct form of a participle? By consulting the English dictionary!
Back to our answer; note that ‘gone’ has an auxiliary (helping) verb ‘are’ before it. Auxiliary verbs help to express tense, aspect, modality, voice, emphasis, etc. They are used with past participles and not with simple past forms of some irregular verbs, unless of course you are Zebrudaya. Hence, ‘Sadly the days of people using proper English are went’ is wrong.
Do not say:
They have came (Rather: They have come)
She has took it (She has taken it)
I could have be a doctor (I could have been a doctor)
If I had knew I would have went earlier (If I had known I would have gone earlier)
Hassan wished he had drove his car to the party (Hassan wished he had driven his car to the party)
Note also that the infinitive ‘to’ goes with simple present verbs and NEVER with simple past verb forms. Examples: to help, to sing, to bring and NEVER to helped, to sang or to brought.
The choir had to sang Amazing Grace. (WRONG)
The choir had to sing Amazing Grace.(CORRECT)
More on participles later.
Select 3 regular verbs and 3 irregular verbs and list their principal parts.