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Mastering Grammar: CBSE & RBSE Class 10 English – Tenses, Reported Speech, and More

Introduction to Chapter 3: Grammar in NCERT Class 10th English

This chapter delves into the cornerstone of effective communication – grammar.

Part 1: Importance and Role of Grammar

  1. Foundation of Language: Grammar provides the framework for constructing clear, accurate, and understandable sentences. It governs word order, verb tenses, and sentence structure, ensuring coherence and meaning.
  2. Key to Proficiency: Mastering grammar empowers you to express yourself accurately and confidently in written and spoken English. It enhances your reading comprehension and listening skills, allowing you to navigate diverse forms of English effectively.
  3. Beyond Mechanics: While rules are essential, the chapter emphasizes that grammar goes beyond technicality. It focuses on using grammatical structures naturally and creatively to achieve specific communicative goals.

Part 2: Types of Questions and Test Formats

The chapter prepares you for various grammar-related assessments encountered in examinations. It might cover:

  • Identification of grammatical errors: You’ll learn to recognize and rectify common mistakes in sentence structure, punctuation, verb tenses, and subject-verb agreement.
  • Sentence transformation: This exercise challenges you to manipulate sentence structures without altering meaning, testing your understanding of grammatical rules and flexibility.
  • Completion of sentences: You’ll be required to fill in the blanks with appropriate words or phrases, applying your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary in context.
  • Essay writing: The chapter might offer guidance on applying grammatical rules effectively in extended writing tasks like essays, ensuring clarity and coherency in your composition.

Common grammar test types

1. Gap-Filling:

  • Purpose: Assesses your understanding of word choices, grammar rules, and sentence structure.
  • Format: Sentences with one or more blanks, requiring you to fill in the missing word(s) or phrase(s) correctly.
  • Example:
    • “The children _____ (play) in the park when it started to rain.” (correct answer: were playing)
  • Skills tested: Vocabulary knowledge, grammar awareness (tenses, parts of speech, etc.), sentence structure comprehension.

2. Sentence-Completion:

  • Purpose: Evaluates your ability to create grammatically correct and meaningful sentences.
  • Format: Partially written sentences with a blank at the end, requiring you to complete them accurately.
  • Example:
    • “Although she was tired, she _____ (finish) her homework before going to bed.” (correct answer: finished)
  • Skills tested: Sentence construction, grammar rules, word choice, context understanding.

3. Sentence-Transformation:

  • Purpose: Assesses your ability to manipulate grammatical structures while preserving meaning.
  • Format: Tasks that involve changing the structure of a sentence without altering its core message.
  • Examples:
    • Combining two sentences: “He was exhausted. He still managed to finish the work.” (possible transformation: “Despite his exhaustion, he managed to finish the work.”)
    • Changing voice: “The team won the match.” (possible transformation: “The match was won by the team.”)
  • Skills tested: Grammar flexibility, understanding of sentence structure, ability to convey meaning in different ways.

Understanding and Applying Tenses in Grammar

1. Explanation and Usage of Different Tenses:

Understanding the different tenses is crucial for expressing time and sequence in your writing and speech. Let’s break down the main tenses in various contexts:

Past Tense:

  • Simple Past: Used for completed actions in the past, often with a specific timeframe. For example, “I ate breakfast earlier“.
  • Past Continuous: Used for ongoing actions in the past, emphasizing the duration or incompleteness. For example, “I was studying when you called“.
  • Past Perfect: Used for actions completed before another past action. For example, “I had finished my work before he arrived“.
  • Past Perfect Continuous: Used for ongoing actions that ended before another past action, highlighting the duration. For example, “I had been playing for hours before I took a break”.

Present Tense:

  • Simple Present: Used for habitual actions, general truths, and present states. For example, “I eat breakfast at 7 AM every day”.
  • Present Continuous: Used for ongoing actions at the present moment or around the time of speaking. For example, “I am writing an email right now”.
  • Present Perfect: Used for actions completed at an unspecified time before now, often with no specific timeframe. For example, “I have seen that movie”.
  • Present Perfect Continuous: Used for ongoing actions that started in the past and continue up to the present, emphasizing the duration. For example, “I have been working on this project for a week”.

Future Tense:

  • Simple Future: Used for actions that will happen in the future, often with a timeframe. For example, “I will visit you next week”.
  • Future Continuous: Used for ongoing actions in the future, emphasizing the duration. For example, “I will be working on my assignment at 5 PM”.
  • Future Perfect: Used for actions that will be completed before another future action. For example, “I will have finished my dinner by the time you arrive”.
  • Future Perfect Continuous: Used for ongoing actions that will start in the future and continue up to another future point, emphasizing the duration. For example, “I will have been studying for two hours by the time the test starts”.

2. Practice Exercises to Strengthen Understanding:

To solidify your understanding and apply these tenses effectively, try these exercises:

  • Sentence Identification: Identify the tense used in different sentences, like “She was writing a letter when the phone rang” (Past Continuous).
  • Sentence Completion: Fill in the blanks with the correct tense of the verb, like “He (will visit) his grandparents next week” (Simple Future).
  • Sentence Transformation: Change the tense of a sentence without altering its meaning, like “They went to the park yesterday” (Past Simple) => “They are going to the park today” (Present Continuous).
  • Error Correction: Identify and correct errors in tenses within sentences, like “I have had lunch already” (Present Perfect) should be “I had lunch already” (Past Perfect).
  • Creative Writing: Compose short paragraphs using different tenses effectively, like a past narration, a present-day description, or a future plan.

By actively practicing these exercises, you can master the nuances of tenses and build confidence in expressing yourself accurately and creatively in English.

Reported Speech: Transforming Direct to Indirect Speech

Reported speech allows you to convey what someone else said without quoting them directly. Mastering it is crucial for accurate and clear communication. Let’s delve into converting sentences from direct to indirect speech:

Basic Principles:

  • Reporting Verb: Introduce the reported statement with a verb like “said,” “told,” “asked,” “replied,” etc.
  • Conjunction: Use a conjunction like “that” or “if” to introduce the reported clause.
  • Pronoun Changes: Adjust pronouns depending on the speaker and listener. First-person (“I”, “we”) becomes third-person (“he”, “she”, “they”), and second-person (“you”) can sometimes change to third-person depending on context.
  • Tense Changes: Adjust verb tenses in the reported clause depending on the time difference between the original speech and the reporting. (See specific examples below)

Rules and Examples for Tense Changes:

  • Present Simple to Past Simple: “She says, ‘I like reading,’ becomes “She said she liked reading.”
  • Present Continuous to Past Continuous: “They’re saying, ‘We’re leaving soon,’ becomes “They said they were leaving soon.”
  • Present Perfect to Past Perfect: “He’s saying, ‘I’ve finished my work,’ becomes “He said he had finished his work.”
  • Future Simple to Conditional: “I’ll do it,’ becomes “She said she would do it.”
  • Past Simple to Past Perfect Simple: “He said, ‘I saw a movie yesterday,’ becomes “He said he had seen a movie the day before.”

Additional Tips:

  • If the reporting verb is in the present tense, past tense changes for the reported clause usually remain unchanged.
  • When reporting questions, use “asked” as the reporting verb and change the question word if necessary. (e.g., “Where are you going?” becomes “He asked me where I was going.”)
  • Pay attention to adverbs and time expressions, adjusting them if necessary to reflect the time difference between the reported speech and the reporting.

Practice Makes Perfect:

Try these exercises to hone your reported speech skills:

  • Convert direct speech sentences into indirect speech based on the given context.
  • Identify and correct errors in reported speech constructions.
  • Imagine a conversation and write it down both in direct and indirect speech forms.

By understanding and applying the principles of reported speech, you can enhance your communication skills and effectively convey messages secondhand with clarity and accuracy.


Subject-Verb Concord: Making Your Sentences Sing in Harmony

Subject-verb concord, sometimes called subject-verb agreement, is the backbone of grammatical accuracy. It ensures the subject and verb in a sentence match in number (singular/plural) and, in some cases, person (first, second, or third). Understanding and applying this principle makes your sentences flow smoothly and clearly.

Basic Rule:

  • Singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb.


  • Singular subject: The cat sleeps soundly.
  • Plural subject: The birds sing beautifully.

Beyond the Basics:

While the fundamental rule seems straightforward, some situations require closer attention:

  • Collective nouns: Collective nouns like “team,” “family,” or “committee” can be tricky. If the noun acts as a single unit, use a singular verb. If you emphasize the individual members, use a plural verb.
  • Compound subjects: When joining subjects with “and,” use a plural verb. However, if joined by “or,” “nor,” “either,” or “neither,” the verb agrees with the closer subject.
  • Indefinite pronouns: Some indefinite pronouns like “everyone,” “nobody,” or “each” are singular and require singular verbs.

Identifying and Correcting Errors:

Here are some common errors and how to fix them:

  • Subject-verb disagreement: “The dogs eat their dinner.” should be “The dogs eat their dinner.” (plural subject, plural verb)
  • Misinterpreting collective nouns: “The committee are discussing the issue.” should be “The committee is discussing the issue.” (collective noun acting as a single unit)
  • Ignoring indefinite pronouns: “Everyone brings their own lunch.” should be “Everyone brings their own lunch.” (singular pronoun, singular verb)

Practice Makes Perfect:

Solidify your understanding of subject-verb concord by trying these exercises:

  • Identify the subject and verb in sentences, then analyze their agreement.
  • Rewrite sentences with errors in subject-verb concord to make them grammatically correct.
  • Create sentences using different types of subjects and practice applying the appropriate verb forms.

Active vs. Passive Voice: Exploring Two Sides of the Story

Imagine a sentence as a stage: the subject takes the spotlight, performing an action on the object. This is the active voice. But sometimes, the focus shifts, and the object basks in the limelight, receiving the action instead. This is the passive voice.

Active Voice:

  • The subject actively performs the action.
  • Focuses on the doer.
  • Example: John wrote a letter. (John = subject, wrote = verb, letter = object)

Passive Voice:

  • The subject receives the action (often by implication).
  • Focuses on the action or the object.
  • Example: The letter was written by John. (Letter = subject, was written = passive verb, John = implied agent)

Why Use One Over the Other?

  • Active voice is generally preferred: It’s more direct, concise, and emphasizes the doer.
  • Passive voice can be helpful:
    • When the doer is unknown or unimportant. (e.g., The building was destroyed.)
    • To emphasize the object or the impact of the action. (e.g., The painting was admired by everyone.)
    • To create a more formal or dramatic tone.

Conversion Exercises:

Practice switching gears between active and passive voice with these exercises:

  1. Identify the voice of given sentences.
  2. Convert active voice sentences to passive voice (remember to include the agent with “by” when necessary).
  3. Convert passive voice sentences to active voice (identify the implied agent).
  4. Analyze the effect of shifting between active and passive voice in different contexts.

Framing questions and question tags:

Framing Questions

1. Question Types

  • Wh-Questions: Begin with question words like who, what, where, when, why, how, etc.
    • Example: Where did you go yesterday?
  • Yes/No Questions: Can be answered with “yes” or “no.”
    • Example: Did you enjoy the movie?
  • Alternative Questions: Offer choices for a response.
    • Example: Would you like tea or coffee?
  • Tag Questions: Short questions added to statements for confirmation or emphasis (explained in detail below).

2. Question Formation

  • Inverting Subject and Verb: In most cases, questions are formed by switching the subject and verb order.
    • Example: You are happy. becomes Are you happy?
  • Using Auxiliary Verbs: If no auxiliary verb is present, use “do,” “does,” or “did” to form the question.
    • Example: You like pizza. becomes Do you like pizza?

Question Tags

1. Structure: Short questions added to statements, typically consisting of an auxiliary verb and a pronoun that matches the subject. – Example: You’re coming to the party, aren’t you?

2. Functions:

  • Confirmation: Seek confirmation of a statement’s accuracy.
    • Example: It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?
  • Emphasis: Underline a point or express surprise.
    • Example: You didn’t actually do that, did you?
  • Invitation: Invite the listener to agree or disagree.
    • Example: That was a great movie, wasn’t it?

3. Rules for Forming Question Tags:

  • If the statement is positive, the question tag is negative.
    • Example: You’re happy, aren’t you?
  • If the statement is negative, the question tag is positive.
    • Example: You’re not leaving yet, are you?

Conclusion: Grammar: Your Everyday Communication Powerhouse

Grammar may seem like a set of rules, but it’s truly the invisible architecture that holds our language together. By understanding and applying its principles, we unlock the power to communicate clearly, effectively, and with confidence in every situation.