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Verbs come in three tenses: past, present, future.

The past is used to describe things that have already


happened (e.g. earlier in the day, yesterday, last week, three years ago). The present tense is used to describe
things that are happening right now, or things that are continuous. The future tense describes things that have yet
to happen (e.g. later, tomorrow, next week, next year, three years from now).

Simple Present Tense (Present Indefinite)


The simple present tense is the one which we use when an action is happening right now, or when it
happens regularly (or unceasingly, which is why its sometimes called present indefinite). The simple
present tense is formed by using the root form or by adding -s or -es to the end, depending on the person.
Regular Verbs
In present tense, regular verbs use the root form, except for third person singular (which ends in -s).
First person singular: I write
Second person singular: You write
Third person singular: He/she/it writes (note the -s)
First person plural: We write
Second person plural: You write
Third person plural: They write
I write grammar books.
This sentence implies that I write grammar books on a regular basis, perhaps as a career.
Anna writes the letter.
This sentence could be from a narrative, telling a story about what Anna is doing right now.
Here are some other examples:
I go, you go, he/she/it goes, we go, you go, they go
I see, you see, he/she/it sees, we see, you see, they see
I learn, you learn, he/she/it learns, we learn, you learn, they learn
Irregular Verbs
Irregular present tense verbs are things like to be, which change for each person.
First person singular: I am
Second person singular: You are
Third person singular: He/she/it is
First person plural: We are
Second person plural: You are
Third person plural: They are
I am 20 years old.
You are 20 years old.
He is 20 years old.

Present Perfect Tense


The present perfect is used when an action began in the past yet is still relevant. Its created by using the
present tense of have + the past participle.
I have seen
You have seen
He/she/it has seen

We have seen
You have seen
They have seen
Martha has asked for the day off.
Who Has Seen the Wind is an excellent book.
They have slept in because its Saturday morning.
Remember to look out for irregular past participles.
He has drunk all the milk again.
The dogs have lain down in front of the fire.
You ve left your umbrella behind.

Present Continuous Tense (Present Progressive


Tense)
When something is happening at the same time were talking about it, thats when we use the present
continuous tense. We form it by using the present tense of be + present participle (the root word + -ing).
She is washing the car as we speak.
Are you coming with us to the party?
Where are we going ?
I am not arguing with you; I am discussing the matter with you.
Remember not to use the present continuous tense with non-action verbs like seem andknow. These verbs
should use the simple present.
She is seeming tense.
She seems tense.

Present Perfect Continuous Tense (Present


Perfect Progressive Tense
The present perfect continuous is used with actions that began in the past and are still continuing. The
formula for present perfect continuous is present tense of have + been + present participle (root + -ing).
Youll most often see this verb tense used with the wordsfor and since.
What have you been doing since I last saw you?

We ve been moving house. There are still boxes to unpack.


They ve been watching TV for three hours now.
The car has been sitting in the garage, unused, since last month.
Has Mary been going to all her classes?
Remember not to use the present perfect continuous tense with non-action verbs like be,seem, and know.
These verbs should use the present perfect.
Mary has been seeming tired.
Mary has seemed tired.

Simple Past Tense


The simple past refers to things that have already happened, and are finished doing their thing.
World War II was from 1939-1945.
Mom cooked supper.
I did the dishes.
Margaret aced her math exam.
Regular Verbs
Regular verbs are changed to the simple past by adding -ed to the end of the root form. If the verb already
ends in -e, we just add -d.

Play played
Type typed
Listen listened
Push pushed
Love loved
Irregular Verbs
Irregular verbs follow no pattern when they change to the simple past tense. Youll have to check a
dictionary if youre unsure as to what the past tense might be.

See saw
Build built
Go went
Do did
Leap leapt
Rise rose
Dig dug
Some verbs dont change from their present form.

Put put
Cut cut
Set set
Cost cost
Hit hit

Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense is used to show that one action in a sentence finishes before a second action
begins. Words like before and after are indicators that the past perfect tense may be used; however, there
are no strict rules for this situation. You must choose the best verb tense for your sentence.
The past perfect is created by using I had, you had, he/she had, we had, you had or they had + past
participle.
Both of these sentences are correct.
After he tied his shoes, he left the house.
After he had tied his shoes, he left the house.
The maitre d poured the dessert wine, but not until the cake had been cut.
The baby ripped the book before the mother had noticed him playing with it.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense (Past Perfect


Progressive Tense)
The past perfect continuous is written by using the past tense of have + been + present participle. Its used
when one activity in the past was happening before or after another activity had taken place. Look for the
words for, since, and before.
The car had been sitting in the garage, unused, for a month.
It was 5 oclock; his parents had been waiting for him since 2 oclock.
Before they immigrated, my father had been working as a surgeon and my mother had been training to be a
psychiatrist.
We d been walking for only 5 minutes when the rain started.
Remember not to use the past perfect continuous tense with non-action verbs like be, seem, and know.
These verbs should use the past perfect.
The baby had been being cranky all night.
The baby had been cranky all night.

Simple Future Tense


The simple future is the tense we use when something will begin and end later. Its created by putting will in
front of the root word.
I will learn a new language.

Annie will make a cake.


The cat will sleep all day.
Will you come to the beach with us?
Who will become the next president?

Future Perfect Tense


The future perfect is used to talk about an action that will be finished before something else happens in the
future. Its made by using will + have + the past participle. Look for key words which suggest the action is in
the future, such as later, tomorrow, next weekand next year.
I promise I will have this finished by the end of today.
Hopefully, the prospectors will have found gold before winter comes.
Will you have shaken that cold by next week, do you think?
We will have eaten all the food by the time he arrives.
Remember to check for irregular past participles.

Future Continuous Tense (Future Progressive


Tense)
The future continuous relates one action in the future to another specific action or time.
Its formed this way: will + be + present participle (root word + -ing).
We will be going to the gym after work.
Will you be joining us?
At 5 a.m. tomorrow, they will be departing Alaska.
I ll be returning home next Thursday.
Remember not to use the future continuous tense with non-action verbs like seem andknow; include be in
this list for future continuous tense. These verbs should use the simple future.
She will be being here at 3:00.
She will be here at 3:00.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense (Future


Perfect Progressive Tense)
The future perfect continuous tense is used much like the future perfect, but one of the actions is likely to
continue beyond the other. It can also be used when one action will be continuing at a certain time in the
future. Create the future perfect continuous this way:will + have + been + present participle (root + -ing).
Look for key words like in and by.
In September, I will have been going to school for 4/5 of my life.
By 2015, you will have been living in Mexico longer than youve lived anywhere else.
By the end of this month, she will have been working long enough to get benefits.
In three months, they will have been seeing each other for a year.
Remember not to use the future perfect continuous tense with non-action verbs like be, seem and know.
These verbs should use the future perfect.
Tomorrow, I will have been being here for a week.
Tomorrow, I will have been here for a week.

One sentence is put into different tenses. You can see how the meaning changes.
The words in green are signal words. They tell you which tense you have to use.

Tense

Example

Explanation

Simple
Present

I play football every


week.

Here you want to say that it happens


regularly.

Present
Progressi
ve

I'm playing football n


ow.

Here you want to say that it is


happening at the moment.

Simple
Past

I played football yest


erday.

You did it yesterday, it happened in the


past.

Past
Progressi

I was playing football

You were doing it in the past. It's not


sure whether the action was finished

Tense

Example

Explanation

ve

the whole evening.

or not.

Present
Perfect

I have just played fo


otball.

You have just finished it. So it has a


connection to the present. Maybe your
clothes are dirty.

Present
Perfect
Progressi
ve

I have been playing f


ootball for 2 hours.

You want to say how long you have


been doing it. (You started in the past
and it continues up to the present.

Past
Perfect

I had played football


before Susan came.

The two actions are related to each


other: you had finished to play football
and after that the girl arrived.

Past
Perfect
Progressi
ve

I had been playing fo


otball for two hours
when Susan came.

Here you want to point out how long


you had been doing it before the girl
came.

willfuture

I will/shall play footb


all next week.

This is a prediction, you can probably


do something else.

going tofuture

I'm going
to play football this
afternoon.

This is a plan you've made.

Future
Progressi
ve

I will/shall be playin
g football next Sunday.

You do it every Sunday (as usual)

Future
Perfect

I will/shall
have playedfootball
by tomorrow.

You will have done it before tomorrow.

Tense

Example

Explanation

Conditio
nal
Simple

I would play football.

You'll probably do it.

Conditio
nal
Progressi
ve

I would
be playing football.

You'll probably do it. Here you


concentrate more on the progress of
the action.

Conditio
nal
Perfect

I would
have played football.

You'll probably have finished playing


football at a special time in the future.
Here you concentrate on the fact
(football).

Conditio
nal
Perfect
Progressi
ve

I would
have been playingfo
otball.

You'll probably have finished playing


football at a special time in the future.
Here you concentrate on the progress
of playing (football).

Negations of the sentences


Tense

Simple Present

Example

I do not play football every week.


I don't play football every week.

Present Progressive

I am not playing football now.


I'm not playing football now.

Simple Past
I did not play football yesterday.

Tense

Example

I didn't play football yesterday.

I was not playing football yesterday.

Past Progressive

I wasn't playing football yesterday.

I have not played football.


Present Perfect

I haven't played football.


I've not played football.

I have not been playing football.


Present Perfect Progressive

I haven't been playing football.


I've not been playing football.

I had not played football.


Past Perfect

I hadn't played football.


I'd not played football.

I had not been playing football.


Past Perfect Progressive

I hadn't been playing football.


I'd not been playing football.

I will/shall not play football next


will-future

week.
I won't play football next week.

Tense

Example

I am not going to play football this


going to-future

afternoon.
I'm not going to play football this
afternoon.

I will/shall not be playing football.

Future Progressive

I won't be playing football.

I will/shall not have played football.

Future Perfect

I won't have played football.

I would not play football.

Conditional Simple

I'd not play football.

I would not be playing football.


Conditional Progressive

I wouldn't be playing football.


I'd not be playing football.

I would not have played football.


Conditional Perfect

I wouldn't have played football.


I'd not have played football.

Conditional Perfect
Progressive

I would not have been playing foot


ball.
I wouldn't have been playing footb

Tense

Example

all.
I'd not have been playing football.

Questions
Tense

Example

Simple Present

Do you play football?

Present Progressive

Are you playing football?

Simple Past

Did you play football?

Past Progressive

Were you playing football?

Present Perfect

Have you played football?

Present Perfect Progressive

Have you been playing football?

Past Perfect

Had you played football?

Past Perfect Progressive

Had you been playing football?

will-future

Will you play football?

going to-future

Are you going to play football?

Tense

Example

Future Progressive

Will you be playing football?

Future Perfect

Will you have played football?

Conditional Simple

Would you play football?

Conditional Progressive

Would you be playing football?

Conditional Perfect

Would you have played football?

Conditional Perfect Progressive

Would you have been playing football?