What are the Tenses in English Grammar? | (12 best examples)

What are the Tenses in English Grammar?

First of all, let us understand what is Tense?

What is Tense?

A tense is a form of a verb which expresses the time of action in the sentence. It will describe whether the action,

  • had happened in the past (or)
  • is happening in the present (or)
  • will happen in the future.

In other words, the verb takes the reference of time.

Usually, these Tense has two major components in it. Those are,

  1. Time
  2. Aspect

Time

There are 3 time events. Those are,

  1. Past
  2. Present
  3. Future

The action is referred with the time by using any one of the above three events.

Aspect

  1. Progressive: Incomplete action
  2. Perfective: Completed action

The aspect helps us to determine whether the action is complete or incomplete.

There are 12 basic tenses in the English Grammar which are combined and categorised in to three tenses and we are going to learn everything in this post.

Types of Tenses

There are basically three types of tenses. Those are,

  • Past Tense
  • Present Tense
  • Future Tense

What is Past Tense?

The Past Tense is used when the action was already happened in the past. For example,

  • Rahul played football with his friends.

Here, the word “played” is used to represent the action which took before.

The majority of the words have “-ed” at the end to represent the action (verb) of the past.

Usually, Past Tense is again divided into four types. Those are,

  • Simple Past
  • Past Continuous
  • Past Perfect
  • Past Perfect Continuous

The above four mentioned has different usage and purposes. So, we need to understand each of them to use depending on the requirement.

Simple Past

Simple Past (also called Past Simple) is used to describe the action which is completed in the past.

The basic structure of Simple Past is,

Simple Past = Subject + Verb (V2) + Object

1) For example, (Positive sentences)

  • I went to the library yesterday morning.
  • He attended the party last night.
  • I ate ice cream yesterday.
  • Joseph completed his project last week.
  • Tina gifted her friend a doll.

We can observe that most of the words have “-ed” at the end to represent the action (verb) of the past.

2) For Negative sentences, we need to add “don’t” or “do not” before the verb. The verb also changes its form to basic (infinitive) form.

Simple Past = Subject + don’t + Verb (basic) + Object

  • I didn’t go to the library yesterday morning.
  • He didn’t attend the party last night.
  • I didn’t eat ice cream yesterday.
  • Joseph didn’t complete his project last week.
  • Tina didn’t gift her friend a doll.

3) For question based sentences, you need to add “Did” before the subject.

Simple Past = Did + Subject + Verb (Basic) + Object

  • Did I go to the library yesterday morning?
  • Did he attend the party last night?
  • Did I eat ice cream yesterday?
  • Did Joseph complete his project last week?
  • Did Tina gift her friend a doll?

Pro Tip: Always remember that you need to use the infinitive (basic) verb for Negative and Questioning sentences in Simple Past.

Some words don’t have “-ed” at the end. These are called as Irregular verbs.

Here are few Irregular verbs that you can refer from the below table.

eatateeaten
gowentgone
give gavegiven
(Irregular Verbs Table)

Past Continuous

Past Continuous tense is used to describe the action which is incomplete ongoing action which got interrupted in the past.

The basic structure of the Past Continuous is,

Past Continuous = Subject + was / were + verb (-ing) + Object

SubjectVerb
I / He / She / Itwas
You / We / Theywere
(Subject – Verb Table)

1) For example, (Positive Sentences)

  • I was listening to the class when the sir started the topic.
  • The power went out when I was started watching TV.
  • It was raining when the match started.
  • I was feeling tired when I returned home.
  • I was feeling happy when I got the present.
  • They were feeling afraid when they saw a dog.

2) For Negative Sentences

SubjectVerb
I / He / She / Itwas not
You / We / Theywere not
(Subject – Verb Table)

Past Continuous = Subject + was / were not + verb (-ing) + Object

For example,

  • I was not listening to the class when the sir started the topic.
  • The power went out when I was not started watching TV.
  • It was not raining when the match started.
  • I was not feeling tired when I returned home.
  • I was not feeling happy when I got the present.
  • They were not feeling afraid when they saw a dog.

3) For Question type of Sentences

Past Continuous = Subject + was / were + verb (-ing) + Object

  • Was I listening to the class when the sir started the topic?
  • Was I started watching TV when the power went out?
  • Was it raining when the match started?
  • Was I feeling tired when I returned home?
  • Was I feeling happy when I got the present?
  • Were they feeling afraid when they saw a dog?

Past Perfect

Past Perfect Tense is used to determine the action

So, the structure of Past Perfect is,

Past Perfect = Subject + had + verb (past participle / V3) + Object

1) For example, (Positive Sentences)

  • She had come late to the office.
  • I had left Delhi this morning.
  • They had sold the house before.
  • He had lost his mobile in the theatre.
  • Raju had won the chess tournament.

2) For Negative Sentences just add “not” after had. The syntax is as follows,

Past Perfect = Subject + had not + verb (past participle / V3) + Object

  • She had not come late to the office.
  • I had not left Delhi this morning.
  • They had not sold the house before.
  • He had not lost his mobile in the theatre.
  • Raju had not won the chess tournament.

3) For Question Sentences, shift the word “Had” before the subject.

Past Perfect = Had + Subject + verb (past participle / V3) + Object

  • Had she come late to the office?
  • Had I left Delhi this morning?
  • Had they sold the house before?
  • Had he lost his mobile in the theatre?
  • Had Raju won the chess tournament?

Past Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect Continuous Tense is used to describe the action which got started, continued and completed (ended) in the past.

It is also called Past Perfect Progressive Tense. The basic structure of this tense is,

Past Perfect Continuous = Subject + had been + Verb (which is Present Participle -> root word + ing)

For example,

  • He had been working as a Software Developer for two years when he got the promotion.
  • Raju had been teaching English in a school for ten years to get experience.
  • She had been facing difficulties to solve a math problem when she was doing her homework alone.
  • Tina had been waiting for a taxi until then her friend suddenly met and gave her the lift.
  • They had been practising the game for four years before they had won the last World Cup.

In the first example, we can observe that he worked as a Software Developer for two years after the promotion. This means that he stopped working after 2 years.

Same explanation goes for other four examples.

Now, let us understand what is Present Tense.

What is Present Tense?

The Present Tense is used when the action is happening now. For example,

  • Rahul is playing football with his friends.

Here, the word “playing” is used to represent the action which is taking place now.

The majority of the words have “-ing” at the end to represent the action (verb) of the present.

Usually, Present Tense is again divided into four types. Those are,

  • Simple Present
  • Present Continuous
  • Present Perfect
  • Present Perfect Continuous

These four types also have different usage and purposes. Let us start with Simple Present.

Simple Present

Simple Present is used to describe the actions which happen regularly (in time) like routines, habits, etc. It is also used for real (universal) facts.

So, the structure of Simple Present is,

Simple Present = Subject + Verb (V1) + Object

The basic verbs (V1) are used in the above example sentences.

1) For example, (Positive Sentences)

  • I read books every day.
  • John works in a core company.
  • He plays chess in his free time.
  • They go to a restaurant every Sunday.
  • Tina sings a song every day.

2) For Negative Sentences

Simple Present = Subject + doesn’t / don’t + Verb (base/infinitive) + Object

  • I don’t read books every day.
  • John doesn’t work in a core company.
  • He doesn’t play chess in his free time.
  • They don’t go to a restaurant every Sunday.
  • Tina doesn’t sing a song every day.

Present Continuous

Present Continuous is used to describe the action which is happening right now (at the time of speaking).

The basic structure of Present Continuous is,

Present Continuous = Subject + am / is / are + verb (-ing)

For example,

  • I am studying right now.
  • We are having a meeting.
  • It is raining outside.

It is also used for describing temporary activities like,

  • Sneha is learning to play the guitar.
  • John is working in an internship.
  • They are preparing for an Entrance exam.

However, it is also used for the changes that are happening now. For example,

  • YouTube is becoming more popular day by day.
  • His business is growing more this year.
  • John is improving his speaking skills every day.

The verb changes depending on the Subject used. You can refer the below table.

SubjectVerb
Iam
He / She / Itis
You / We / Theyare
(Subject – Verb Table)

Present Perfect

Past Perfect tense is used to describe the action which is ongoing (continuous) in the present. It has two uses which are experiences and recent events or actions.

The basic structure of Present Perfect is,

Present Perfect = Subject + have / has + verb (past participle / V3)

SubjectVerb
I / You / We / Theyhave
He / She / Ithas

For example, (experience)

  • She has taught English to many students.
  • Micheal has seen two movies this week.
  • I have visited Mumbai five times.
  • They have won the tournament two times.
  • We have joined the seminar this morning.

(For the past events)

  • I have finished my Project work.
  • I have lost my wallet.
  • You have done your work.
  • They have lost a football match.

Present Perfect Continuous

Present Perfect Continuous is used to describe the action which got started in the past and is still continuing.

The basic structure of Present Perfect Continuous is,

Present Perfect Continuous = Subject + have / has been + Verb (-ing)

SubjectVerb
He / She / Ithas been
I / You / We / Theyhave been
(Subject – Verb Table)

For example,

  • I have been waiting to see my friend for two hours.
  • Jack has been playing cricket since he was a child.
  • He has been learning English for two months.
  • We have been living in a village for a very long time.
  • They have been playing since 5 pm.

Also Read: What is Grammar? | (Grammar definition, types & examples) | Best Guide 2021

What is Future Tense?

The Future Tense is used when the action happens/will happen in the future. For example,

  • Raju will play football with his friends tomorrow.

The future tense is again divided into four types. Those are,

  1. Simple Future
  2. Future Continuous
  3. Future Perfect
  4. Future Perfect Continuous

Simple Future

Simple Future Tense is used for the verb (action) which is going to happen in the future.

This tense is used especially when we make any plans or decisions for the future but don’t know the time of implementing it.

The basic structure of Simple Future is,

Simple Future = subject + will + verb (root word)

For example,

  • He will do the work tomorrow.
  • They will arrange the wedding decoration this Sunday.
  • My mother will cook a special dish at night.
  • The college will remain close tomorrow due to the Diwali festival.
  • I will get an offer as a senior manager after two years.

Future Continuous

The Future Continuous Tense is used to describe the action which is going to start and continue in the future.

The basic structure of Future Continuous is,

Future Continuous = Subject + will be + verb (present participle -> root word + ing)

For example,

  • You will be wearing this dress for tomorrow’s event.
  • She will be going to Delhi next week.
  • Tina will be having her birthday this Sunday.
  • They will be attending the party tomorrow night.
  • We will be leaving this town tomorrow morning.

Future Perfect

Future Perfect Tense is used to describe the action which is going to end (complete) at a specific time in the future.

The basic structure for Future Perfect is,

Future Perfect = Subject + will have + verb (Past Participle -> -ed)

Example statements:

  • They will have completed their work before 5 pm.
  • She will have cooked breakfast before 8 am.
  • The train will have arrived at 2 pm tomorrow.
  • Sudheer will have attended the meeting next Sunday.
  • We will have attended the party at 8 pm.

Future Perfect Continuous

Future Perfect Continuous Tense is used to describe the action which starts, continues and ends either at a specific time or with another action in the future.

The basic structure of Future Perfect Continuous Tense is,

Future Perfect Continuous = Subject + will have been + verb (-ing)

For example,

  • He will have been going to the office before 10 am.
  • They will have been celebrating their birthday at midnight.
  • Raju will have been applying for leave tomorrow.
  • We will have been cleaning the house by the time the guest arrives.
  • She will have been submitting the project before the teacher arrives.

A common example for all the 12 Tenses

So, it might be a bit confusing when we learn all of these tenses at once. But to make it more clear, we are going to take an example and explain it with 12 different types of tenses.

Simple Past: I watched TV last night.

Past Continuous: I was watching TV when my favourite show started.

Past Perfect: I had watched TV this morning.

Past Perfect Continuous: I had been watching TV for two years when I bought the new one.

Simple Present: I watch TV every morning.

Present Continuous: I am watching TV right now.

Present Perfect: I have watched TV 3 times.

Present Perfect Continuous: I have been watching TV for 5 years.

Simple Future: I will watch TV tomorrow.

Future Continuous: I will be watching TV at night.

Future Perfect: I will have watched TV before night 10 pm.

Future Perfect Continuous: I will have been watching TV before my mom arrives.

Another Simple Example

Here is another simple example to relate and understand Tenses.

Simple Past: I played

Past Continuous: I was playing

Past Perfect: I had played

Past Perfect Continuous: I had been playing

Simple Present: I play

Present Continuous: I am playing

Present Perfect: I have played

Present Perfect Continuous: I have been playing

Simple Future: I will play

Future Continuous: I will be playing

Future Perfect: I will have played

Future Perfect Continuous: I will have been playing

So, these are the 12 basic English Tenses with examples.

Quiz Time! (Test your knowledge here)

#1. He is ________ to music. Fill in the blank with an appropriate tense.

Answer: listening. Explanation: The form of the above sentence is,

Present Continuous = Subject am / is / are verb (-ing) object

Present Continuous = He is listening to music.

#2. Tina has won two gold medals in a tournament. Which type of tense is it?

Answer: Present Perfect.

Explanation: It is in the form of,

Present Perfect = Subject have / has verb (past participle / V3)

Present Perfect = Tina has won two gold medals in a tournament.

#3. "Rohan worked hard last year." - Which type of tense is it?

Answer: Past Tense.

Explanation: The above sentence is about a past event that happened. The form of the above sentence is,

Past Tense = Subject Verb (V2) Object

Past Tense = Rohan worked hard this year.

 

#4. "They had visited the beach." - Which type of past tense is used?

Answer: Past Perfect.

Explanation: The above sentence is in the form of,

Past Perfect = Subject had verb (past participle / V3)

Past Perfect = They had visited the beach.

#5. "Raju will become class representative next week." Which type of tense is it?

Answer: Simple Future.

Explanation: It is in the form of,

Simple Future = subject will verb (root word) Object

Simple Future = Raju will become class representative next week.

#6. "The house ______ constructed before July." - Choose an appropriate option from below.

Answer: will have

Explanation: The Tense form of the sentence is,

Future Perfect = Subject will have verb (Past Participle = ed) Object

Future Perfect = The house will have constructed before July.

#7. "We will be living in a new house from next year". Choose the correct tense for the given sentence.

Answer: Future Continuous.

Explanation: It is in the form of,

Future Continuous = Subject will be verb (present participle -> root word ing) Object

Future Continuous = We will be living in a new new house from next year.

#8. Which type of present tense of the given sentence - "She jog every morning".

Answer: Simple Present.

Explanation: It is in the form of Simple Present,

Simple Present = Subject Verb (V1) Object

Simple Present = She jog every morning.

#9. I _______ pizza yesterday night. Choose the appropriate verb.

Answer: ordered.

Explanation: It is in the past tense. So the verb tense should be in the past tense.

So, the past tense of order is “ordered”.

#10. "Sita will have been celebrating her birthday party before 10 pm". Which tense is it?

Answer: Future Perfect Continuous.

Explanation: It is in the form of,

Future Perfect Continuous = Subject will have been verb (-ing) Object

Future Perfect Continuous = She will have been celebrating her birthday party before 10 pm.

Finish

Results

-

Hurray….. You have passed this test! 🙂

Congratulations on completing the quiz. We are happy that you have understood this topic very well.

If you want to try again, you can start this quiz by refreshing this page.

Otherwise, you can visit the next topic 🙂

Oh, sorry about that. You didn’t pass this test! 🙁

Please read the topic carefully and try again.

Summary: (What are the Tenses in English Grammar?)

What are the Tenses in English Grammar?
(What are the Tenses in English Grammar?)

So, here is the summary of what we have discussed till now.

  1. Tenses are used to relate the action with time.
  2. There are three types of Tenses, I.e Past, Present and Future.
  3. These are again classified into 12 types.
  • Simple Past
  • Past Continuous
  • Past Perfect
  • Past Perfect Continuous
  • Simple Present
  • Present Continuous
  • Present Perfect
  • Present Perfect Continuous
  • Simple Future
  • Future Continuous
  • Future Perfect
  • Future Perfect Continuous

Note: The Object in every tense structure is optional (depending on the usage).

If you are interested to learn more, then you can refer to Wikipedia from here.

I hope that you understood the topic “What are the Tenses in English Grammar?”. If you still have any doubts, then comment down below and we will respond as soon as possible. Thank You.

[noptin-form id=701]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 Comments

  1. Nice article 👍🏻
    I like your way of teaching… simple and understandable articles, and also you are consistent with blogs 🙂

Enable Notifications OK No thanks