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Action Cycles

What is correct:

  • Instructions have been given?
  • Instructions are given?
  • Instructions were given?

What is correct?

  • She has been advised to initiate an exercise program?
  • She is advised to initiate an exercise program?
  • She was advised to initiate an exercise program?

To understand these, you need to learn “Action Cycles!”

An action has a cycle. I mean, every action has a cycle – a starting time, a progress time and and ending time.

Starting time: 1st January Progress time: 1, 2, 3 and 4th January Ending time: 4th January
Her treatment commenced… Her treatment continued Her treatment ended
He was admitted He was treated He was discharged.

Look at this example:

“I have started this course. It is 11.30 and I will complete this course by 11.00 am.”

What does this mean?

  • Started at 10 am.
  • Now it is 10.05 am.
  • Will complete at 10.30 am.

This will complete its cycle when the course is completed.

So, when you refer to this action of “starting” before its completion at 11.00, you have to use has / have forms.

Look at these example:

Statement Reporting Time Tense
I have started this course 10.05 am Present Perfect (Have / has)
I have completed 20% of this course. 10.10 am Present Perfect (Have / has)
I have completed 90% of this course. 10.25 am Present Perfect (Have / has)
I have just completed this course. 10.31 am Present Perfect (Have / has)
I started this course at 10.00 am and completed by 10.30. 11.00 am Simple Past (Was / did)
I completed this course in 1 hour. 11.00 am Simple Past (Was / did)

What did you notice?

  • Has / have forms are used when we refer to an action that is still happening
  • Was / did forms are used to refer to an action that completed some time ago.

“She has been admitted.”

What are the follow up actions?

  • Admitted (at 2 PM)
  • Primary investigations from 2.10 to 2.30
  • X Ray and some other procedures from 2.40 to 3.20.
  • Medication and other processes were completed by 5.00 PM
  • Patient improved by 5.30 00
  • Advice and discussing of plans were done before 6.00 PM
  • Discharged at 8 PM

This is called action cycle.

Suppose you are talking to that doctor now. So, when the doctor is taking about the patient, he has to use “has” or has been”

  • At 3 pm, he has to say, “he has just been sent to the X Ray room”
  • Similarly, till 7.59, he should use “has” or “ahs been”
  • But, after 8.01, when he talks about that patient, he should use only “he was admitted, he was sent to the X ray room… etc.

If Action Cycle is clear, let’s proceed to the Quiz!

  • Use has / have forms if the action cycle is not completed.
  • Use was / did (past) if the action cycle is completed.

  • Question of

    She ________ diagnosed with urinary tract infection. She will start her treatment today.

    • has been
    • was
  • Question of

    He _______ diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma on the shoulder on 5th March.

    • has been
    • was
  • Question of

    He ______ instructed to refrain from driving.

    • has been
    • was
  • Question of

    Mr Morgan ______ admitted to this facility after an episode of headache.

    • has been
    • was

Written by Biju John

Love for English begins with understanding its unknown rules. Biju John lives on the internet, teaching OET, IELTS and PTE. More than a million students have thanked him from their heart.

5 Tense Issues

Using “Presented” in OET