made easy
How and when to use
the different tenses
Explained simply, with easy
to understand examples
Andy Paul
The aim of this guide is to introduce the twelve tenses in a general way
and to give a brief introduction of the main uses of them.
The description of them are given in an easy to understand way and
backed up with examples, but there will be other more complex versions
of the tenses which can be researched following the basic understanding
which is outlined here.
n this guide !" refers to the present simple form of the verb, !# the
past tense and !$ the past participle. The most common irregular verbs
are listed at the end of this guide.
%ll tenses can be used in the positive, negative or &uestion form.
The following 'time lines( may also help to improve understanding .
Simple tenses are used whenever we are talking about a point in time.
Continuous tenses are used whenever we are talking about a length of
Perfect tenses are used whenever we are talking about a point in time
before another point in time.
Perfect continuous tenses are used whenever we are talking about a
length of time up to a point in time.
Simple Tense
Present Simple Sub)ect * verb +!", *
+passive voice - S * is.am.are * verb +!$, * ...,
/sed for statements which are true at the moment, and may, or may not
continue. This tense is also used for actions which regularly happen.
live in Thailand.
He wears glasses.
They always go to work at eight.
Past simple Sub)ect * verb +!#, *
+passive voice - S * was.were * verb +!$, * ...,
0e use this tense to talk about events or actions which happened in the past,
and are now finished.
saw 1o in the market last night.
1an called a while ago.
ate breakfast this morning.
Future Simple Sub)ect * will.shall * verb +!", *
+passive voice - S * will be * verb +!$, * ...,
This is for events which are expected to happen sometime in the future, usually
used with some time reference like later, tomorrow, in a minute, next year etc.
will go to %merica next month.
He will visit his parents this evening.
(ll meet you at four o(clock.
0e can also talk about the future using the present continuous tense and often
used with a time reference for the future.
(m going to 2222. He(s arriving 22222 They(re visiting 2222.
Continuous Tense
Present Continuous Sub)ect * is.am.are * verb +!", 2ing *
+passive voice - S * is.am.are * being * verb +!$, * ...,
0e use this tense for events or situations which are in progress at the time of
speaking and are expected to continue. 3ften used with adverbs like now, at the
moment, this week, etc.
(m living in Thailand now.
They are working in 4angkok this week.
The present continuous can also be used for planned actions in the future. 0ith
these we generally need a time reference.
He(s arriving tomorrow.
0e(re spending next winter in England.
Past Continuous Sub)ect * was.were * verb +!", 2ing *
+passive voice - S * was.were * being * verb +!$, * ...,
/sed to describe situations or actions that were in progress some time in the
past, and actions that began before something else happened. 5enerally used
with a time adverb or a second event. f used with a second event, this will
normally be in the simple past.
was living abroad in #667.
She was working on her computer last night.
0hile we were having dinner, the telephone rang.
Future Continuous Sub)ect * will.shall * be * verb +!", 2ing *
+passive voice - not generally used,
This tense is used for actions which will be in progress some time in the future.
3ften used to talk about a future activities already planned, and usually with
some time reference. 8or example, later, soon, next year, etc.
The manager will be arriving soon.
They will be driving to 9haing :ai tomorrow.
The future continuous and present continuous can often both have the same
meaning when referring to planned events.
He will be arriving tomorrow. . He(s +He is, arriving tomorrow0e(ll +0e will, be
spending this winter in England. . 0e(re +0e are, spending this winter in
Perfect Tense
Present Perfect Sub)ect * have.has * verb +!$, *
+passive voice - S * has.have * been * verb +!$, * ...,
/sed to describe actions occurring +or not occurring, at an unspecified time in
the past but with some connection to the present, or if the time isn(t finished.
e.g. this week, this year.
have lived here for five years. +and still live here,
(ve + have, )ust cleaned the house.
She(s +She has, never eaten mango before.
have done a lot of work this month.
0e often use words like before, so far, up till now, )ust, recently, already etc.
with this tense.
Past Perfect Sub)ect * had * verb +!$, *
+passive voice - S * had been * verb +!$, * ...,
The main use is to show which of two events happened first. The two events
don(t necessarily have to be related, but the later event will also be in the past.
:ainly using before, after and when.
The man had left the party by the time the cake was cut.
had arrived at work before the rain started.
Note that the event that happened first does not need to be listed first.
4efore the rain started, had arrived at work.
Future Perfect Sub)ect * will.shall * have * verb +!$, *
+passive voice - S * will have been * verb +!$, * ...,
This tense is usually used to show an action that will already be completed by a
certain time in the future. t often uses by, until, not.... until, plus a time, and
with words that imply completion - build, complete, finish etc. or used after
verbs like expect, hope, believe .......
will have retired by the year #6";.
will have completed my house by this time next year.
expect you will have changed your mind by tomorrow.
will not have finished my homework until :onday.
Perfect Continuous Tense
Present Perfect Continuous
Sub)ect * have.has * been * verb +!", ...ing *
+passive voice - not generally used,
This tense is used when an activity has been in progress throughout a period of
time, often with conse&uences now. The activity may, or may not still be in progress
She has been typing all day. +she may still be typing, or has recently stopped,
(ve + have, been working at Honda for fifteen years. +depending on the context -
still am, or recently changed )obs or retired,
Past Perfect Continuous
Sub)ect * had * been * verb +!", ...ing *
+passive voice - not generally used,
0e use this tense similarly to the present perfect continuous, but for earlier
activities often with a conse&uence then, rather than now.
She had been typing letters all day. +the action has now finished,
0hen first met her, she had been working at Honda for fifteen years.
+at that time she was still working, or recently finished,
Future Perfect Continuous
Sub)ect * will.shall * have * been * verb +!", ...ing *
+passive voice - not generally used,
/sed to signify what is in progress now considered from a point in the future.
Either the event, or time reference, can be listed first.
4y this time next week, will have been working here for two years.
0e will have been living here for a year on September ;
3n September ;
, we will have been living here for a year.
Irregular verbs
Past Participle

Person Singular
(he! she! it)
Present Participle "
$e +Is"am"are) 0as.0ere 4een s 4eing
$eat 4eat 4eaten 4eats 4eating
$ecome 4ecame 4ecome 4ecomes 4ecoming
$egin 4egan 4egun 4egins 4eginning
$ite 4it 4itten 4ites 4iting
$leed 4led 4led 4leeds 4leeding
$rea% 4roke 4roken 4reaks 4reaking
$ring 4rought 4rought 4rings 4ringing
$uild 4uilt 4uilt 4uilds 4uilding
$urn 4urnt 4urnt 4urns 4urning
$u& 4ought 4ought 4uys 4uying
Catch 9aught 9aught 9atches 9atching
Choose 9hose 9hosen 9hooses 9hoosing
Come 9ame 9ome 9omes 9oming
Cost 9ost 9ost 9osts 9osting
Cut 9ut 9ut 9uts 9utting
'o <id <one <oes <oing
'ra( <rew <rawn <raws <rawing
'ream <reamt <reamt <reams <reaming
'rin% <rank <runk <rinks <rinking
'rive <rove <riven <rives <riving
)at %te Eaten Eats Eating
Fall 8ell 8allen 8alls 8alling
Feel 8elt 8elt 8eels 8eeling
Fight 8ought 8ought 8ights 8ighting
Find 8ound 8ound 8inds 8inding
Fl& 8lew 8lown 8lies 8lying
Forget 8orgot 8orgotten 8orgets 8orgetting
Free*e 8ro=e 8ro=en 8ree=es 8ree=ing
#et 5ot 5ot 5ets
Past Participle

Person Singular
(he! she! it)
Present Participle "
#ive 5ave 5iven 5ives 5iving
#o 0ent 5one.4een 5oes 5oing
#ro( 5rew 5rown 5rows 5rowing
+ave Had Had Has Having
+ear Heard Heard Hears Hearing
+ide Hid Hidden Hides Hiding
+it Hit Hit Hits Hitting
+old Held Held Holds Holding
+urt Hurt Hurt Hurts Hurting
,eep >ept >ept >eeps >eeping
,neel >nelt.>neeled >nelt.>neeled >neels >neeling
,no( >new >nown >nows >nowing
-a& ?aid ?aid ?ays laying
-ead ?ed ?ed ?eads ?eading
-earn ?earnt.?earned ?earnt.?earned ?earns ?earning
-eave ?eft ?eft ?eaves ?eaving
-end ?ent ?ent ?ends ?ending
-et ?et ?et ?ets ?etting
-ose ?ost ?ost ?oses ?osing
.a%e :ade :ade :akes :aking
.ean :eant :eant :eans :eaning
.eet :et :et :eets :eeting
Pa& @aid @aid @ays @aying
Put @ut @ut @uts @utting
/ead Aead Aead Aeads Aeading
/ide Aode Aidden Aides Aiding
/ing Aang Aung Aings Ainging
/un Aan Aun Auns Aunning
Sa& Said Said Says Saying
See Saw Seen Sees Seeing
Sell Sold Sold Sells Selling
Past Participle

Person Singular
(he! she! it)
Present Participle "
Send Sent Sent Sends Sending
Set Set Set Sets Setting
Sha%e Shook Shaken Shakes Shaking
Shine Shone Shone Shines Shining
Sho( Showed Shown Shows Showing
Shut Shut Shut Shuts Shutting
Sing Sang Sung Sings Singing
Sit Sat Sat Sits Sitting
Sleep Slept Slept Sleeps Sleeping
Smell Smelt.Smelled Smelt.Smelled Smells Smelling
So( Sowed Sown Sows Sowing
Spea% Spoke Spoken Speaks Speaking
Spell Spelt.Spelled Spelt.Spelled Spells Spelling
Spend Spent Spent Spends Spending
Spoil Spoilt.Spoiled Spoilt.Spoiled Spoils Spoiling
Stand Stood Stood Stands Standing
Steal Stole Stolen Steals Stealing
S(im Swam Swum Swims Swimming
Ta%e Took Taken Takes Taking
Teach Taught Taught Teaches Teaching
Tell Told Told Tells Telling
Thin% Thought Thought Thinks Thinking
Thro( Threw Thrown Throws Throwing
0a%e 0oke 0oken 0akes 0aking
0ear 0ore 0orn 0ears 0earing
0in 0on 0on 0ins 0inning
0rite 0rote 0ritten 0rites 0riting
These are the most common irregular verbs, although there
are other less common ones.
8or regular verbs, )ust add an ...ed to the present tense +!",
for both the past +!#, and the past participle +!$,.