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Tenses overview

Learning tenses is one of the most important tasks in learning English.

The label tense refers to a verb form which shows the time of an action or event. At perfectyourenglish.com you will find a number of resources for learning the tenses. There are also exercises to test your knowledge of tenses.

Tense rules – overview

Here is an overview of tenses which students can use for quick reference.

Simple present tense

A present tense form made without any auxiliary verb. The simple present tense is used to talk about permanent situations or about things that happen regularly.

The sun rises in the east.
Water boils at 100 degree Celsius.
John works at a factory.
I get up at 7 am.
Present continuous tense

The present continuous tense is used to talk about temporary actions and situations that are going on ‘around now’. It is made with is / am / are + -ing form.

They are playing.
The baby is sleeping now.
I am working.

Present perfect tense

The present perfect tense is used to talk about actions and events which are in some way connected with the present. It is a verb form made with has / have + past participle form of the verb.

I have finished.
She has arrived.

Present perfect continuous tense

The present perfect continuous tense is used to talk about actions and events which started in the past, has continued up to the present and is still continuing. It is made with has / have + been + -ing form.

It has been raining.
She has been working all day.

Simple past tense

The simple past tense is used to talk about many past events. These could be short, quickly finished actions, longer situations or repeated events. The simple past tense is made without any auxiliary verbs.

She stopped.
The child cried.
He came.

Past continuous tense

A verb form made with was / were + -ing form of the verb. The past continuous tense is used to talk about actions and situations that were going on around a particular past time.

She was reading.
I was knitting.
It was raining.

Past perfect tense

The past perfect tense is used to talk about things that had happened before the saying or thinking took place. It is made with had + past participle form of the verb.

She had come.
The children had arrived.
I had finished.

Past perfect continuous tense

It is a verb form made with had been + -ing form of the verb.

She had been working.
It had been raining.

Simple future tense

A verb form made with the auxiliary verb will / shall. The simple future tense is simply used to give information about the future.

He will come.
I shall go.

Future continuous tense

The future continuous tense is used to say that something will be going on at a particular moment in the future. It is made with will / shall + be + -ing form of the verb.

I shall be working.
He will be playing.
Future perfect tense

The future perfect tense is made with will / shall + have + past participle form of the verb.

I will have finished.
They will have arrived.

Grammar notes

Use is and has with singular subjects in the present tense. Use are and have with plural subjects in the present tense. Use am with I. Use was with singular subjects in the past tense. Use were with plural subjects in the past tense.

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See Also
Tenses
The simple present tense
The present progressive tense
The present perfect tense
The present perfect progressive tense
Present tenses to talk about the future
The simple past tense
The past progressive tense
The past perfect tense
The past perfect progressive tense
Past verb forms with present or future meaning
The simple future tense
The future progressive tense
The future perfect tense
Tenses in subordinate clauses

 

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