Speech News – Let’s Talk about Tense

Tense refers to the time when something happens – in the past, present or future. Students with Developmental Language Disorder commonly have difficulties with verb tenses. This means that it is important to support your child’s use of tenses at home. Common tenses we use every day include;

  • present tense verbs which end in ‘ing’ (e.g. running)
  • regular past tense verbs which end in ‘ed’ (e.g. jumped)
  • irregular past tense verbs which are marked by changing the entire word (e.g. going -> went).

Here are some strategies which can be used to help your child understand and use tenses.


  • When your child uses the incorrect tense, correct them by repeating what they have said using the correct tense as many times as possible (e.g. Child: “We skip today” Parent: “Yes, we skipped today, we skipped outside”).


  • Model the correct use of tenses in different places and during different activities (e.g. during dinner time “I chopped the carrot”, or during shopping “I picked an apple”).


  • Use gesture to help your child better understand the concepts of ‘past’ and ‘future’ (e.g. point your thumbs over your shoulder to show something has happened in the past and point forwards to show something is going to happen in the future.

(Adapted from Loveandre illy.com.au, 2013)

Speech Pathology Team