Back to What is a Verb?

The Simple Tenses

Simple Present Examples

1. General statements of fact. Expresses event or situation that exists at this moment, have existed in the past and almost certainly will exist in the future.
• The Earth is round.
• The compound sentence consists of two or more independent clauses.
• There are eight main parts of speech in English.

2. Expresses habitual or everyday activity.
• I study English Grammar every morning.
• My classes begin at eight.
• I always come to class prepared.

3. Expresses event or situation that exists right now, at the moment of speaking.
• I don't recognize you.
• She has a headache right now.
• I need a dollar.

Simple Past Examples

Expresses event or situation that began and ended at a particular time in the past (anytime before now).
• I finished my homework last Friday.
• It snowed yesterday again.
• John studied English verbs for ten days.

Simple Future Examples

Expresses event or situation that will happen at one particular time in the future (anytime after now).
Will, shall or be going to is used to express future time.
Use of Shall is more frequent in British than in American English
• I am going to finish my homework tomorrow.
• He will post grammar worksheets on-line.
• It will snow tonight again.

The Progressive (continuous) Tenses

Form: be + -ing (present participle)
Examples: is sleeping, was sleeping, will be sleeping
The Continuous Tenses give the idea that action/event is in progress during a particular time.

Present Progressive (Present Continuous)

1. Expresses an activity that began in the recent past, is in progress at the moment of speaking, and will probably end at some point in the future.
• He is writing an article right now.
• It is raining heavily outside.
• They are talking on a phone.

2. Expresses an activity of a general nature: something that is in progress today, this week, this month, this year, but it does not necessarily mean that this activity is in progress at the moment of speaking.
• He is writing another article this month. (not necessarily at this moment)
• This week we are learning Spanish Tenses.
• I am trying to improve my grades.

Past Progressive (Past Continuous)

1. Both actions occurred at the same time but one action was already in progress when the other action occurred.
• He was writing an article when we arrived.
• It was raining when accident happened.
• They were talking on a phone when it began to rain.
• Last night at this time we were learning Spanish Tenses.

2. Past Continuous is used in both parts of a sentence to show that both actions are in progress simultaneously.
• He was writing an article while it was raining.
• While we were learning Spanish verbs, they were having a party.
• It was raining while I was walking down the street.

3. Sometimes Past Continuous can be used interchangeably with Simple Past giving almost the same meaning.
• It rained yesterday. (Simple Past)
• It was raining yesterday. (Past Continuous)

Future Progressive (Future Continuous)

Future Tenses are not used in clauses beginning with when, while, unless, by the time, as soon as, before, after and if

1. Expresses action that will be happening at a particular time in the future.
• He will be working when we arrive.
• At this time tomorrow, I will be learning English grammar.

2. Expresses the idea that two actions will be happening at the same time (Parallel Actions).
• While you are sleeping, I will be studying Spanish Grammar.
• He will be writing an article while it is raining.

3. Sometimes there is no difference between the Future Continuous and Simple Future.
• Spring will come soon. (Simple Future)
• Spring will be coming soon. (Future Continuous)

The Perfect Tenses

Form: Have + past participle
Perfect Tenses give the idea that one event happens before another event or time.

Present Perfect

Action is completed. The exact time is not important.

I have already eaten.

Past Perfect

One event happened before another event.

I had already eaten when he arrived.

Future Perfect

One event will happen before another event.

I will already have eaten when he arrived.

The Perfect Progressive (Continuous) Tenses

Form: Have + been + -ing (present participle)
Perfect Continuous/Progressive Tenses give the idea that one event is in progress right before another event or time.

Present Perfect Progressive

I have been eating for fifteen minutes.

Past Perfect Progressive

I had been eating for fifteen minutes before he arrived.

Future Perfect Progressive

I will have been eating by the time he arrive.