Yesterday, Now, & Tomorrow

Music Therapy verb conjugation songs for special needs individuals.
Goal: Client will conjugate the 25 most common English verbs into past, present, and future tenses.
Domain: Language

This project teaches how to conjugate the 25 most frequently used verbs in the English language: be, have, do, say, get, make, go, know, take, see, come, think, look, want, give, use, find, tell, ask, work, seem, feel, try, leave, and call. The songs are short, as each song addresses just one verb. First, the verb is paired with a word or two to make a phrase: be happy, have a snack, do my chores, say hello, etc. Then, the subject “I” is added and three sentences (past, present, and future) are sung. Each song has a fill-in-the-blank version for your student to sing the three sentences. The regular and fill-in-the-blank songs can be used sequentially or just the fill-in-the-blank can be used if your student does not require a verbal model. An additional fill-in-the-blank song (with no sung phrase) is included to work on alternate verbs and phrases.

Most special education students have communication deficits. After you finish reading this blog post, you may wonder how anyone becomes a fluent English speaker.

The past, present, and future tenses aren’t really that simple. The English language actually has 12 verb tenses. We’ll conjugate the sentence “I call a friend.”

  1. Simple Present: I call a friend.
  2. Simple Past: I called a friend.
  3. Simple Future: I will call a friend.
  4. Present Continuous: I am calling a friend.
  5. Past Continuous: I was calling a friend.
  6. Future Continuous: I will be calling a friend.
  7. Present Perfect: I have called a friend.
  8. Past Perfect: I had called a friend.
  9. Future Perfect: I will have called a friend.
  10. Present Perfect Continuous: I have been calling a friend.
  11. Past Perfect Continuous: I had been calling a friend.
  12. Future Perfect Continuous: I will have been calling a friend.

This project uses the first four tenses, as these are the most common. For “yesterday” the Simple Past is used: I called a friend. For “regular” verbs, conjugation is easy… put an “ed” on the end of the word. Problem is, English has many “irregular” verbs for which this rule does not apply. In fact, 17 of the 25 most used verbs are “irregular” verbs. Be becomes was, go becomes went, think becomes thought, and so on. Those verbs that don’t follow the rules must be memorized.

For “now” the Present Continuous is used: I am calling a friend. The rule here is to use the word “am” and add an “ing” to the end of the verb. However, in certain cases, the Simple Present rather than the Present Continuous should be used. You wouldn’t say “I am being happy” or “I am knowing the answer” or “I am wanting a cookie” or “I am seeming tired.” Why not? Because these are “stative” verbs that describe a state of being rather than “dynamic” verbs which describe an action. These verbs cannot just be memorized as their stative or dynamic status can change due to context. I am having a haircut. Good. I am having hair. Bad.

Confused yet? The Simple Future used for “tomorrow” is the easiest. Add “will” to the sentence and use the base form of the verb: I will call a friend.

“I” begins every targeted sentence. These are first-person singular sentences. For an added challenge you change the point of view. This will impact the “now” Present Continuous sentences:

first-person singular: I am calling a friend.
second-person singular: You are calling a friend.
third-person singular: He / She / It is calling a friend.
first-person plural: We are calling a friend.
second-person plural: You are calling a friend.
third-person plural: They are calling a friend.

Of course, if you use a “stative” verb, you will need to switch from the Present Continuous to the Simple Present:

first-person singular: I have a headache.
second-person singular: You have a headache.
third-person singular: He / She / It has a headache.
first-person plural: We have a headache.
second-person plural: You have a headache.
third-person plural: They have a headache.

Download includes:

  • 51 songs [mp3 audio files]
    • 25 regular songs
    • 26 fill-in-the-blank songs
  • 25 lyrics [PDF]
  • 25 lyrics & chords [PDF]
  • 25 phrase flashcards [PDF]


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