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Verb Tenses

The verb contains the action of the sentence. Without verbs, we couldn't talk about running, or
jumping, or eating. And without verb tense, we couldn't talk about when we did those things. Did
we eat dinner yesterday? Will we go for a run tomorrow? We need verb tense to talk about time.

Present Tenses
The present tense refers to circumstances that exist now, or that have occurred over a period of
time that includes the present. Present tense can also be used to express basic facts or
circumstances that are continuous.

Simple Present
The simple present expresses current events, recurring events, and general facts.

There is a shady park down the block.


I paint a portrait of my cat every week.
Mary hears a noise in the attic.
The verbs is, paint, and hears are in the simple present tense. They refer to actions that are
occurring in the present.

Present Progressive
The present progressive expresses continuous actions.

I am reading a letter.
The car is running at high speed.
Michael and Anna are always working in the library.
To show that the action is continuous the verbs reading, running, and working are paired
with the appropriate form of the verb to be (am, is, are).

Present Perfect
The present perfect expresses a completed event that is still relevant to the present.

I have read several of Shaw's novels.


She has seen him every Saturday this month.
Jed has sampled six ice cream flavors so far.
In these examples, have and has are paired with read, seen, and sampled to show readers
that these actions began in the past and are still occurring in the present.

Present Perfect Progressive


Finally, the present perfect progressive expresses a continuous action that began in the past
and continues into the present.

I have been standing on this corner for six hours.


She has been dreaming of becoming an actress since she was ten.
Even though it's raining, that Girl Scout has been selling cookies all day.
The present perfect progressive tense combines have/has with been and the verb to show
that the action began in the past and is still occurring in the present.

Past Tenses
The past tense refers to events that have occurred in the past or an event that occurred
continually in the past. It can also be used when discussing hypothetical situations. The types of
past tense are simple past, past progressive, past perfect, and the past perfect progressive.

Simple Past
First, the simple past expresses a past event:

Last week, I read several of Shaw's novels.


The mother took her son to the beach every day last summer.
The book sat on the shelf, collecting dust.
The verbs read, took, and sat are in the past tense to show these actions have already
occurred.

Past Progressive
The past progressive expresses a continuous action in the past:

She was giving a presentation when the microphone broke.


The computer was downloading the file for 20 minutes.
During their first year, the puppies were growing at an alarming rate.
In the past progressive tense, the primary action verbs (in this case giving, downloading,
and growing) are paired with the past tense of the verb to be (was/were) to show that the
action occurred continually in the past.

Past Perfect
The past perfect expresses a completed action from the past.

I had already seen him that morning.


As soon as my car had been repaired, I continued my trip.
The power had gone out by then.
This verb tense uses had, paired with a verb, to show that the verb is a completed action.

Past Perfect Progressive


The past perfect progressive expresses a continuous, completed action that had taken place in
the past.

I had been listening to the radio when she dropped in.

The car had been running smoothly until the exhaust pipe fell off.
She realized she had been standing on his foot when he gently shoved her.
The past perfect progressive tense combines have/has with been and the past tense of
the verb (listening, running, standing) to show that the action occurred continually in the
past until the action was completed.

Future Tenses
The future tense is used to express circumstances that will occur in the future. The future tense
is different from the present and past tenses in that there is not usually a type of
verb conjugation that shows the future tense. Instead, future verbs are formed by combining
them with words like will or shall, or the phrase going to. The different future tenses are
simple future, future progressive, future perfect, and future perfect progressive.

Simple Future
The simple future expresses an action that will take place in the future.

Next week, her uncle will be in town.


Will you carry this bag for me?
To show that these actions take place in the future, the verbs are paired with will.

Future Progressive
The future progressive expresses a continuous action which will take place in the future.

He will be conducting a meeting between noon and one o'clock every day
this week.
Next summer, Jake will be traveling through South America.
To show that the action is continuous and in the future, the verbs are paired with will be, and to
show that they are progressive, the main verb ends in -ing.

Future Perfect
The future perfect expresses a completed action that will have taken place in the future.

We will have finished cooking by the time you arrive.


Margaret will have dropped off her niece at the airport before meeting Joe.
In these examples, will and have are paired with the main verb to show readers that these
actions will take place in the future, but will have already occurred.

Future Perfect Progressive


Lastly, the future perfect progressive tense expresses a continuous, completed action that will
have taken place in the future.

I will have been exercising for hours by the time you wake up tomorrow.
When they arrive, they will have been traveling for 12 hours straight.
The verb has will to show that it takes place in the future, have been to show that it is
completed, and an -ing verb to show that it is progressive or continuous.

Source: Boundless. Verb Tense: Past, Present, and Future. Boundless Writing. Boundless, 26
May. 2016. Retrieved 24 Jul. 2016
from https://www.boundless.com/writing/textbooks/boundless-writing-textbook/overview-ofenglish-grammar-parts-of-speech-250/verbs-291/verb-tense-past-present-and-future-123-3142/