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To frame a sentence in English, you have to learn verb tenses first. In this article, we are going to learn the types of tenses in English grammar.
Verbs are the only words that change their form to show tense. Tense indicates the time of the action or state of the action or state of being expressed by the verb.
Types of Tenses
The most common tenses are past, present and future tenses. They are further divided into
- Simple tenses,
- Continuous tenses,
- Perfect tenses and
- Perfect Continuous tenses. (Perfect continuous is usually not encouraged to use. So, consider only three.)
So, among the twelve types of tenses, only seven are used widely, and we are going to learn the seven types of tenses.
Simple Present Tense
The present tense tells us
- The action is at the present time or
- A particular situation in the present.
Usage of Simple Present Tense
To make a statement about actions that are continuing or things happening repeatedly or habitually.
- Shekar lives in the USA.
- She always drinks tea.
To give instructions/directions.
- You go straight and turn left.
- You should use only ink pen.
To tell jokes/stories.
- A man comes into the office.
- The king punishes him.
To ask simple questions using do/does
- Do you like coffee?
- What do you think?
To make a statement about an action that is surely going to happen in the future.
- I go to my house tomorrow.
- I meet Fr. Francis next week.
To indicate general facts
- The earth rotates around the sun.
- The sun rises in the east.
Some verbs used only in simple present tense
Note: These verbs almost never be used in present continuous (present progressive) and past continuous (past progressive).
Present Continuous Tense
This tells us that the action is continuing in the present.
Structure: Subject + is + gerund form of verb + …..
Usage of Present Continuous Tense
To say about something happening now or for a limited time in the future.
- Shekar is working today.
- I am learning English this year.
To say about something that happens often and use “always”.
- The teacher is always shouting in the class.
To describe an event that is to happen (the sentence includes a word/phrase with limited future meaning).
- She is flying to USA next Tuesday.
- I am going to Iraq for my vacation in May.
To make arrangements/appointments.
- I am going to the dentist at 10 AM.
- My friend is coming to meet me tomorrow.
Simple Past Tense
The simple past tense tells that an action was completed/a particular situation in the past/completed action at one specific time.
Structure: Subject + past form of verb + …..
Usage of Simple Past Tense
To describe actions/events that took place in the recent/long past and now finished.
- I bought a computer yesterday.
- Simron married Deepak last year.
To tell a story.
- Once a crow was thirsty. It looked for water everywhere………
Past Continuous Tense
This tense tells us that the action was continuing in the past.
Usage of Past Continuous Tense
To indicate an action which was happening in the past and was interrupted by another action.
Structure 1: When + subject 1 + simple past + subject 2 + past continuous
- When Mark came home, Mary was watching television.
Structure 2: Subject 1 + past continuous + when + subject 2 + simple past.
- Mary was watching television when Mark came home.
To indicate two actions happening at the same time in the past.
Structure 1: While + subject 1 + past continuous + subject 2 + past continuous.
- While Mark was cooking dinner, Mary was watching television.
Structure 2: Subject 1 + past continuous + while + subject 2 + past continuous.
- Mary was watching television while Mark was cooking dinner.
To indicate an action that was happening at some specific time in the past.
- Mark was cooking dinner at 7 O’clock last night.
- Mark was watching television at midnight.
Present Perfect Tense
It indicates completion of a work in present (just now) or at an unspecified time.
Structure: Subject + have / has + verb (past participle) + ….
- I have seen Osama Bin Laden. (not sure when it happened)
- I have finished by work. (just now)
Usage of Present Perfect Tense
To speak about an action/event/situation that happened at an unspecified time.
These sentences indicate the past meaning.
- I have read the Bible.
- She has met the Prime Minister.
- We have come here before.
- We have met Dr.Kalaigar already/once/twice/a few times/often/many times/several/sometimes.
- I have attended interview many times.
Past Perfect Tense
Structure: Subject + had + verb (past participle) + …..
- I had experienced the pain of doing that. So don’t do that.
Usage of Past Perfect Tense
To speak about an action in the past that happened before another action.
- When I went (action-2) to the Railway Station the train had left (action-1).
Simple Future Tense
Structure: Subject + will / shall / would + verb (simple).
- Selvam will win a prize.
- Uncle may come tomorrow.
We use a simple future in the present continuous too.
- I am going to my house tomorrow.
Note: Try to avoid using other future tenses since it is hard to use those tenses in correct situations.
We have been posting article regarding learning English. You may consider the following useful articles regarding learning English.
External Resources Regarding Verb Tenses
- Verb Tenses – How to Use them Correctly
- English Verb Tenses
- 16 Tenses in English Grammar (Formula and Examples)
Hope this article regarding verb tense is helpful to you. Try to form sentences based verb tenses using the rules given above. Only practising a language based on the grammar, will make you to learn that in proper manner.