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I am curious about some grammar rules pointed out to me by my nephew's 3rd grade English homework.  They were given a passage and asked to identify present-tense verbs, ("-ing action happening now") and past-tense verbs ("-ed action happened in the past").  For one of the past-tense verbs, we answered "seen," which was in the context, "Which of these bridges have you seen?"  I didn't feel too confident about this answer, but there really were no other clear past verbs.  The teacher marked it wrong and wrote in "called," which in the story is used in the context, "One type of bridge, called a beam bridge, is quite simple."  As far as I have been able to find, both of these verbs are Present Perfect tense.  So, I admit that I may have been wrong in suggesting "seen" as past tense verb, but isn't "called" the exact same usage and tense in this context?  Thanks for any clarification you can offer.  -Jason
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Hi Jason,
I'm afraid I don't have much confidence in this teacher if he or she is saying that an -ing verb is (simple) present.

Here is a quick refresher:
Simple present: I see an osprey in that tree almost every time come here.
Present continuous: I need to see my doctor. I am seeing spots floating in front of my eyes.
Simple past: I saw a moose on my way to work yesterday.
Present perfect: I have seen a moose only twice before.
Past perfect: I had already seen the doctor when you called, so you didin't interrupt anything.

So you were right to be uneasy about your choice of "have seen." That was present perfect.
However, you are right that "called a beam bridge" is in the present, but the passive. People call this a beam bridge. This is called a beam bridge. This bridge, callled a beam bridge (by people we won't name), is...
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DiscreteWhich of these bridges have you seen?
'have' and 'seen' combine to form the present perfect tense, and it is used to talk about things that happened in past time.

For the third grade, I doubt much attention is paid to distinguishing tenses from times, so I can only assume that knowing the tense was the main thrust of the lesson. Let me leave it at this: "have seen" is not past tense.
DiscreteOne type of bridge, called a beam bridge, is quite simple.
The 'is' gives away the fact that this sentence is in the present tense, which is used to talk about things that are so at the time of saying the sentence or things that are assumed always to be true.

'called' is the past participle of the verb 'call', used with one of two auxiliaries, 'have' (have called) or 'be' (be called). In this sentence the implied auxiliary is 'be' (in the form 'is').

One type of bridge, which is called a beam bridge, is quite simple.

So 'called' is part of the implied grouping 'is called', which is present tense, not past.
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As you can see from the analyses above, both 'seen' and 'called' are past participles, but the usage isn't the same. 'seen' is part of 'have seen', which is present perfect; 'called' is part of 'is called', which is present.

If the students are merely being asked to find words that end in -ing or -ed, they are just being kept busy with a meaningless task. Nevertheless, your description of what's happening in that English class has all the signs that this is what's going on. Emotion: sad

CJ