Today’s focus is on the verb tenses used in reports.
BARBARA: Thanks Denise. I’ll just outline the process we’ve been through, identify some problems, and give you an estimate on completion time and the outcome financially.
JOHN: Is it good news or bad news?
BARBARA: Bear with me. Now, if you recall, after a feasibility study, we put the project out to tender eighteen months ago, and selected Ezybuild as our project manager.
Work commenced about fifteen months ago, and it’s been progressing to schedule until recently.
DENISE: What’s the problem?
BARBARA: Unfortunately there are three: Firstly, there’s been a delay in materials – specifically steel because of industrial issues at the suppliers. Secondly, we’ve lost days due to the weather. And finally, there’s been a resulting cost blowout.
JOHN: So what are we going to do?
BARBARA: Well, they’ve managed to get another supplier now. I suggested moving the completion date back. That way, there’s no penalty, and they agreed to re-deploy their workers until building can start again.
JOHN: Smart thinking.
BARBARA: We’ve been waiting for the rain to stop – but we can’t control the weather!
DENISE: And the cost?
BARBARA: At this stage, just a small overage. But I’ll be watching it very closely over the next few months. With no more delays, we’re expecting to complete the project just one month behind schedule.
DENISE: Good work Barbara.
She uses the present continuous tense.
‘We’re looking’ or ‘We are looking’ – because she’s telling them what they are doing, and what they are going to do at the meeting now.
She doesn’t use the simple present ‘we look’, because that is used for regular actions.
Then she says ‘I’ve asked Barbara to report’.
She uses the present perfect tense: ‘I have asked’ because she asked Barbara to report before the meeting, and Baraba is about to give her report.
We’ll look more at present perfect later.
And she wants Barbara to bring them ‘up to date’ and ‘up to speed’.
These are common expressions – to bring someone ‘up to date’ is to tell them what has happened up to the present. And to bring someone ‘up to speed’ is to make sure they know all the relevant facts.
How does Barbara respond?
She uses the future tense: I will, because she’s talking about something she’s going to do in the next few minutes. Notice that the ‘will’ is not repeated, but it applies to all three of the things she says she is going to do.
Let’s see how Barbara reports on progress.
We put the project out to tender.
We selected Ezybuild as the project manager.
These events happened in the past, and they are finished.
We’ve been monitoring progress continuously.
I’ve been checking the work regularly.
There’s been a delay; ‘we’ve lost days’; ‘there’s been a cost blowout.’
These are all present perfect verbs, using ‘has’ or ‘have’.
‘There has been’,
‘we have lost.’
Present perfect tense is used to describe events which began in the past and are still true now.
In business it can be important to use the correct verb tense – using the wrong one can change the meaning – for example, if Barbara said ‘There was a delay’ – it means this delay happened in the past, and there is no delay now.
If she says ‘there is a delay’, she means that delay is still happening – they are still losing time.
But if she says ‘there has been a delay’, she means the delay started in the past and has continued up until the present. But as we’ll see – she is now fixing the problem.
I suggested moving the completion date back. She suggested it at a particular time in the past.
There’s no penalty. There is no penalty now.
They agreed to redeploy their workers – they agreed at a particular time in the past. Redeployed means they were sent to work somewhere else.
Look now at the last part of the scene.
And the cost?
At this stage, just a small overage. But I’ll be watching it very closely over the next few months. With no more delays, we’re expecting to complete the project just one month behind schedule.
I’ll be watching – I will be watching in the future over a long time.
We’re expecting – we are expecting at the moment, and we will continue to expect in the future.
Notice also how Denise asks a question.
Practise some examples with Denise.
And the result?
And the reason?
That’s all we have time for today, so I hope we’ll be seeing you next time for The Business of English.
Episodes of The Business of English
- The Business of English E15: Until Next Time
- The Business of English E14: A Formal Speech
- The Business of English E13: We Might Have a Deal
- The Business of English E12: Negotiating
- The Business of English E11: Can I Help You?
- The Business of English E10: Wrapping It Up
- The Business of English E09: A Customer Survey
- The Business of English E08: Graphs and Trends
- The Business of English E07: A Report on Progress
- The Business of English E06: What are the options?
- The Business of English E05: Hear!Hear!
- The Business of English E04: Any Other Business
- The Business of English E03: Getting Aquainted
- The Business of English E02: Why don’t you join us?
- The Business of English E01: Pleased to meet you
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