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4 Keeping in Touch



One part of being abroad is figuring out how to keep in touch with the people you have left behind. Will you rely on emails, text messages or phone calls? How about using Skype or some other similar service? Will you have a blog? How about traditional letters and postcards? There are so many options - and so little time!

You will start this lesson with some grammar, specifically the tenses, and then move on to some listening skills and conversation exercises.

Exercise 4.1

Rewrite the sentences (10) using the past or past continuous tense. 

1. Thomas is busy because he is moving.

2. Linda is trying to get everything organized before she leaves.

3. Sandra doesn’t like her new home that much because it is not in the city center.

4. James thinks the weather can’t get much worse.

5. Jade is walking in her new neighborhood, which always relaxes her.

6. Everybody misses Trevor, who is traveling in Southeast Asia.

7. No one expects him to come back before the rainy season begins.

8. Susan needs a break because she is working too much.

9. Richard and Matthew are having dinner together and catching up.

10. Their mother is visiting her brother so she isn’t with them this time.


The Present Perfect Tense / The Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense (also known as the perfect tense) is used when there is a link between the present and the past. It indicates that something happened in the past but doesn’t refer to a specific moment. The state or action can continue at present and/or it is important at the present time.

The present perfect is composed of two elements:

have/has + the past participle of the main verb

Has is the 3rd person singular form of have. If the main verb is a regular verb, the past participle is the base + -ed. Irregular verbs have various forms that you have to memorize.

Sentences in the present perfect tense often include adverbs such as ever, never and since.

Questions and negatives are formed with have.

  • Jim has played the guitar in many bands.
  • Rachel has lived in this neighborhood since she was a baby.
  • I have studied all my life (and still do).
  • The Gordons have been to Bali several times.
  • Have you ever been to Thailand?
  • Lisa has never been to the ballet before – this will be her fist time.

Photo: Flickr / Daehyun Park

The present perfect continuous tense is formed like this

have/has been + base +-ing

  • David has been fishing at the same spot for hours.
  • Pam and Richard have been reorganizing their basement all afternoon.
  • What have you been doing? This room is a mess!

The Past Perfect Tense / The Plu Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense (also known as the plu perfect) is used when talking about something that started in the past and lasted up to a certain moment in the past. There is no link with the present like there is in the present perfect tense.

The past perfect tense consists of had (the past tense of have) and the past participle of the main verb.

Questions and negatives are formed with had.

  • The children had stayed with their grandparents until their parents got back home.
  • Simon had been a student until he had to start working to support his family.
  • Had Bonnie ever traveled by herself before she flew to Brazil?
  • She hadn’t even been to the airport by herself before.

The past perfect continuous tense consists of

had been + base + -ing

  • It had been raining all week but the sun came out just before the concert started.
  • The forest had been burning for days by the time the Sheltons had to evacuate.

For more details on the tenses and some interactive exercises, check out this site:

British Council English Grammar

Verbs: The present perfect and the past perfect tense - A short summary in Finnish

Exercise 4.2

Irregular verbs - test your knowledge

Write down the conjugations (the three forms) of the following irregular verbs. You can answer just once.

An example: bring, brought, brought

1. seek
2. write
3. burn
4. feed
5. freeze
6. throw
7. sink
8. ring
9. lose
10. grow

Exercise 4.3

Use the following verbs in sentences. Write five of your sentences in the present perfect and five in the past perfect tense, like this

Timmy has spoken about his new band for days.
His father had told Timmy about his old band many times.

1. lend

2. lay

3. shake

4. swear

5. understand

6. sweep

7. tear

8. become

9. blow

10. wear


Exercise 4.4

Part 1:

Read and write: Take a look at the Course Blog. It is a private blog, so email your teacher for an invitation to the blog. Read the blog entries and write one of your own or comment on someone’s blog post there. State in your learner diary the date(s) when you did that.

Part 2: Watch: Prince Charles - Practice talking about the weather yourself.

Part 3: Listen and write: Listen to the dialogue "Skype Conversation" and then explain in a few sentences (50-80 words) what the two people talked about.

Listen: Dialogue / Skype Conversation


Submit your text below:

Exercise 4.5

Phone conversation 

Email your teacher to set a time to have a conversation on traveling and keeping in touch when you are abroad.

This exercise can be done on the phone or via Skype.

To prepare for the exercise – and for possible future travel – you can review travel-related vocabulary and expressions here:

BBC Learning English – Welcome to London

This phone conversation task must to be completed in order to pass the course, and it will be graded pass or incomplete.

After you have had the conversation, tick the box below and write in your learner diary your own thoughts on how well you did in the conversation.


Photo: Flickr / Rev Dan Catt

Exercise 4.6

You will hear the following story in seven sections. The sections are mixed and your task is to put them into right order. Listen to them all (more than once, if needed) and then write the numbers (1-7) in the correct order in the boxes after the sections.

This is section number .

This is section number .

This is section number .

This is section number .

This is section number .

This is section number .

This is section number

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