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The word tense is from the Latin word tempus, which means time. English marks tense in verbs. The tense of a verb shows the time of an action or event.

English has three tenses: the past, the present and the future.

The present tense refers to the moment of speaking. With most English verbs the present tense is marked by the suffix s in the third person singular but otherwise has no marking at all.

The past tense refers to a time before the moment of speaking. With most English verbs, the past tense is marked by the suffix ed, though a number of verbs have an irregular past tense.

The future tense correlates with time later than the time of speaking.

Each of these three main tenses has four forms: the simple, the progressive, the perfect and the perfect progressive.

Sections In This Article
Tense rules - overview
The simple present tense
The present progressive tense
The present perfect tense
Using the present perfect tense
The present perfect progressive tense
Present tenses to talk about the future
Using present perfect continuous tense
The simple past tense
Common mistakes in the use of simple past and present perfect tense
The past progressive tense
The past perfect tense
Correct use of 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

Tenses exercise

Tense consistency exercise 1
Tense consistency exercise 2


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