Ambrose Ochigbo Adaje


The Simple Past Tense, a one-word verbal category has situational, anaphoric, cataphoric, event, state, habitual, attitudinal, hypothetical and backshift uses in communication. Using the structural grammar as a descriptive model, the study investigates the forms and imports of the Simple Past Tense in the written productions of some first-year students of University of Agriculture, Makurdi. The study is prompted by the paucity of such research on the students’ written works which are not devoid of grammatical problems. Two hundred and eighty-six subjects, drawn from the study population, were given a test, made up of both objective test and essay task, at the close of the 2012/13 academic when they had had a two-semester use of English course termed Communication in English. The analysis of the data shows that the students are weak in the use of the Simple Past Tense in communication. For example, the Past Tense is used in wrong sentential contexts; the to-infinitive is inflected to indicate past time; present verb forms are used to articulate past events and states; there are numerous wrong inflections of irregular verbs such as cutted, shaked, clinged, etc. To improve the students’ weak base in English grammar, Nigerian English language teachers should guide students to learn the forms, meanings and functions of past verb forms in communication; also, English language experts should develop self-study books on structural elements which have been established by research to be problematic to second language learners so to improve learners’ communicative competence.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter



past tense, usage, Nigerian ESL students

Full Text:



Alternberg, Evelyn. P. and Robert. M. Vago (2010). Cambridge: University Press

Azar, Betty Schrampfer (1999). Understanding and Using English Grammar. New York: Pearson Education.

Berry, Roger (2012). Grammar: A Resource Book for Students. Oxon: Routledge.

Brown, H. Douglas (1987). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. New York: Prentice Hall Regents.

Close, R. A. (1999). A reference grammar for students of English. England: Longman Group Limited.

Corder, S. Pit (1976). Introducing Applied Linguistcs. Harmmonsworth, UK: Penguin Books.

Greenbaum, Sidney. (1996). The Oxford Grammar. Oxford: University Press.

Hashemi, Louise and Barbara Thomas. (2013) Cambridge: University.

Hewing, Martin. (2003). Advanced English grammar. Cambridge: University Press.

Huddleston, Rodney and Geoffrey k. Pullum. (2007). A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huddleston, Rodney (1988). English grammar: an outline. Cambridge: university Press.

Ibbi, Ruth. (2012). An “Analysis of Tense Errors in the Written English of Selected Science Students of Gombe State University, Nigeria”. AFFREV LALIGENS: A international Journal of Language, Literature and Gender Studies, Ethiopia. Vol. 3(1). Series 7, February, 13-24.

Inekwe, Cynthia (2006). The Use of English Tense among Selected Senior Secondary School Students in Metroplish Zaria. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, Ahmed Bello University Zaria, Nigeria.

Leech, N. Geoffrey (1989). Meaning and the English verb. England: Longman Group Limited.

Lester Mark (2008). ESL Grammar. London: McGraw Hill

Manjuk, Ruth. (2009). “Tense Errors in the Written English of Science Students of Gombe State University. Unpublished M.A. Dissertation, Ahmed Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.

Nelson, Gerald (2001). English An Essential Grammar. London: Routledge

Ofuokwu, Emmanuel (1982). ‘A study of the written English of pre-degree and final-year university students: a case study of ABU, Zaria. An unpublished M.A thesis, ABU, Zaria.

Quirk et al. (2007). Contemporary grammar of the English language. England: A Pearson Education Limited.

Thomson, A. J. and A., V. Martinet (1986). A Practical English Grammar. Oxford: University Press.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Ambrose Ochigbo Adaje

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The research works published in this journal are free to be accessed. They can be shared (copied and redistributed in any medium or format) and\or adapted (remixed, transformed, and built upon the material for any purpose, commercially and\or not commercially) under the following terms: attribution (appropriate credit must be given indicating original authors, research work name and publication name mentioning if changes were made) and without adding additional restrictions (without restricting others from doing anything the actual license permits). Authors retain the full copyright of their published research works and cannot revoke these freedoms as long as the license terms are followed.

Copyright © 2015-2018. European Journal of Literature, Language and Linguistics Studies (ISSN 2559 - 7914 / ISSN-L 2559 - 7914). All rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library. All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms. All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and standards formulated by Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003) and  Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003) and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Copyrights of the published research works are retained by authors.