We are lucky that English turned out the lingua franca of our time, lucky because English grammar is relatively easy to learn. I mean, try learning the grammar of some of the other major languages like Russian, German, Spanish or Japanese before complaining about English grammar.
English grammar is much easier. But then again, Easy and Difficult are not the right categories, is not the right mindset. You shouldn’t think of a word or grammar as being Easy or Difficult.
Words and Grammar are Common or Rare, Frequent or Uncommon
According to Oxford dictionaries: the 1,000 most common words account for 75% of the English language.
What is the situation with English grammar, which are the most common grammar tenses in English?
I will base my answer on my personal observation as well as some scientific research done by one Jiri Kramsky, a Czech general linguist and his paper on
He summarized some research done on 3 different English text types: fiction, colloquial, specialized
We will focus on Colloquial, spoken language.
The most frequent grammar tense in English is the Present Simple, about 50%. And no surprise there - we use the Present simple all the time, well half of the time.
When we talk about our jobs, about our hobbies, routines and habits, when describing things.
The present simple is the most common grammar in English learner’s dictionaries. Words definitions are usually explained in the Present Simple.
Dictionary = a book that contains a list of words in alphabetical order and that explains their meanings, or gives a word for them in another language
The Present Simple is the most common verb tense in English.
Most dictionary definitions are in the Present simple but if you look closely, as you should, you will notice the Past Simple.
Ancestor = a member of your family who lived a long time ago
Of course we use the Past simple, we are story tellers, we talk about our last vacation, last business meeting, last girlfriend or boyfriend. We use the Past Simple in spoken language all the time. Well, 20% of the time according to Jiri Kramsky.
But in spoken English, the Past Simple is the second most common grammar tense.
The third one is the Future Simple with WILL - about 9%
And in dictionaries too
Prediction = a statement about what you think will happen in the future
Of course the future, we talk about the future all the time.
Future Simple with WILL is the third most common verb tense.
The forth most common verb tense in English is the Present Perfect - about 6%.
The Present Perfect and it’s close cousin the Present Perfect Continuous/Progressive are one of the most difficult grammar structures in English. Look closely and you will see them in various definitions.
Success = the fact that you have achieved something that you want and have been trying to do or get
The forth most common verb tense in English is the Present Perfect.
The top 4 most common grammar tenses account for more than 85% of spoken English. Those are the grammatical structures you need to learn first.