How Many Tenses In English

If you’re familiar with basic English grammar, we bet you can describe a verb and perhaps name a tense or two. In the sentences
the boy walks
and
the girl ran, the wordswalks andran are the verbs.

Did you also recognize thatwalks is in the present tense, or that
ran
is in the past tense? Whether you did or didn’t, we’re here to review verb tenses with you and also astound you with the fact that there are 12—count them, 12—verb tenses in all!


What is a verb tense?

Generally speaking,
verb tenses
identify the time period when an action occurs. The verbwalks communicates not only how many people completed the action (it’s singular), but also when it occurred. In this case, the tense is
present.
The person
walks
right now.

Interestingly, titinada all languages treat verb tenses the same way. In English, the ending on a verb communicates what tense it’s in. (Walk
becomes
walks
andwalked.) In some cases, an auxiliary verb (also known as a helping verb, like
will
or
need) is required as well. In Chinese languages, for example, a verb doesn’t change its spelling depending on the tense. A separate word (or particle) is combined with the verb to explain when it occurred.


12 types of verb tenses

The simple tenses (past,
present, and
future) are the most basic forms, but there are 12 major verb tenses in English in all. We’ll review the tenses here.

Verb Tenses Chart


Past tenses

The
past tenses
use verbs to say that something happened in the past, meaning any time before this moment right now. There are four variations of
past tenses:

  • Simple past:
    describes events that began and ended in the past.
  • Past continuous:
    describes events that began in the past, continued for a length of time, and ended in the past.
  • Past perfect:
    describes a past event that occurred before another past event.
  • Past perfect continuous:
    describes an event that began in the past, continued for a length of time, and was in progress when another past event happened.

Simple past

Thesimple past tense describes events that have already happened and are completely finished. Most verbs can be made past tense by adding
-ed,
d, or sometimes the variant –cakrawala
at the end of a present tense verb, as in
liked
and
watched.

However, many irregular verbs have unique past tense forms. For example,
go
becomes
went, and
think
becomes
thought.

Simple past
is usually used to write about historical events, like so:

  • Galileo
    observed
    the stars.

In this example, the verb tense indicates that the astronomer Galileo completely finished the act of observing the stars at some point in the past.

Past continuous

Thepast continuous tense describes an ongoing activity that occurred in the past. It is formed by combining the past tense verbto be (which must be correctly conjugated to agree with the subject) and the present participle of a verb (ending in –ing):

  • The satelit
    was moving
    along an elliptical orbit.

In this example, the verb tense says that the planet began moving sometime in the past and continued to do so for a period of time (in the past).

Establish the different times to use
was
vs.
were
so you won’cakrawala have any mistakes again.

Past perfect

The
perfect
tenses involve more complex time relationships. They build upon simple tenses by combining a verb with
has,
have, or
had.

The
past perfect
tense, also called the
pluperfect
tense, describes a past event in relation to another event that occurs closer to the present. It is formed by combiningtakat
and the past participle of the verb.

  • The girl bought the telescope her teacher
    perenggan recommended
    to her.

The girlbought (simple past) what the teacherhad recommended (past perfect tense). One action occurred (senggat recommended) before the other (bought).

Past perfect continuous

The
past perfect continuous
tense describes an ongoing action that—like the past perfect—was performed in relation to another event that occurs closer to the present. It is formed by combining
had been
with the present participle of the verb.

  • He
    had been studying
    for his astronomy final when the doorbell buram.

The above example uses the verb tense to indicate that he was studying for a length of time before another event (the doorbell ringing) interrupted or stopped his act of studying.


Present tenses

Generally speaking, we use the
present tenses
to say that an event is happening right now in the present time. Like the past tenses, there are four variations of
present
tenses:

  • Simple present:
    Describes an event as happening in the present.
  • Present continuous:
    Describes an event as being in progress in the present and likely continuing into the future.
  • Present perfect:
    Describes an event that occurred in the past but has some connection to the present.
  • Present perfect continuous:
    Describes an event that began in the past but still continues to happen in the present.

Simple present

The
simple present tense
describes events happening now. It’s also useful for describing a direct action that’s not exclusive to the past or future.

Sentences in present tense often have the most straightforward structure because they use the root form of the verb or a conjugation of the verb
to be. The root form of the verb is the form you will find if you look up a verb in our dictionary.

We often use the
simple present tense
to state facts:

  • Cats
    eat
    mice and birds.

In this sentence, the
simple present tense
is used to state the fact that cats regularly eat mice and birds.

When you use the verb
be
in the simple present tense, it must agree with the subject of the sentence. For example:

  • I
    am
    tall.
  • You
    are
    my best friend.
  • She
    is
    my older sister.
  • We
    are
    hungry.
  • They
    are
    late for work.

Present continuous

Thepresent continuous tense describes an ongoing activity that is happening now, in the present. It is formed by combining the verbto be and the present participle of the verb (ending in –ing):

  • The baby
    is laughing
    at Shelly’s monkey puppet.

In this example, the verb tense is used to state that the baby is currently in the process of laughing at Shelly’s silly puppet and will likely continue to do so for a while yet.

Present perfect

The
present perfect tense
describes a past event that’s still happening in the present. It is formed by combining the word
has
or
have
(depending on the subject) with the past participle of the verb.

Let’s look at this sentence:

  • The baby
    has played
    this game before.

In this example, the verb tense states that a past event is related to the present. In this case, the sentence is saying that the baby is currently playing a game that they have also played at another time in the past.

Present perfect continuous

The
present perfect continuous
tense describes an ongoing action that began in the past and  is still occurring in the present. It is formed by combining the phrase
has been
or
have been
(depending on the subject) with the present participle of the verb.

  • Shelly
    has been babysitting
    for years.

In this example, the verb tense is used to say that Shelly started babysitting children in the past, continued to babysit for years, and still continues to babysit now.


Future tenses

We use the
future tenses
to say that an event will happen sometime in the future. Like past and present tenses, there are four variations of
future tenses:

  • Simple future:
    Describes an event that will begin and end in the future.
  • Future continuous:
    Describes an event that will begin in the future and continue for a length of time.
  • Future perfect:
    Describes a future event that will happen before another future event.
  • Future perfect continuous:
    Describes a future event that will begin, continue for a length of time, and still be in progress when another future event occurs.

Simple future

The
simple future tense
describes events that haven’t happened yet. It’s useful for describing an intended action or a prediction. It’s typically formed by combining the word
will
or, less commonly,
shall
with a root verb.

For example:

  • Molly
    will finish
    her chores when she has time.
  • We
    shall travel
    to France next summer.

The word
will
is an auxiliary verb, and
finish
is the root verb. Together, they explain that Molly intends to do her chores at a later point in time.

Learn more about auxiliary verbs and the verbs they help out, here.

Future continuous tense

The
future continuous tense
describes an activity that will extend over a period of time and will happen in the future. It is formed by combining the phrase
will be
and the present participle of the verb (ending in –ing):

  • I
    will be working
    all afternoon, so I can’ufuk help Olivia with her report.

In this sentence, the verb tense is used to say that I plan to work for a period of time in the future.

Future perfect tense

The
future perfect tense
describes an upcoming action in relation to another event farther in the future. It is formed by combining the phrase
will have
and the past participle of the verb:

  • By tomorrow afternoon, Olivia
    will have finished
    her report.

This sentence uses the
future perfect tense
to say that Olivia’s report is incomplete right now, but it will be finished before tomorrow afternoon.

Future perfect continuous

The
future perfect continuous tense
describes an action that will extend adv lewat a period of time and will be performed in relation to another future event. It is formed by combining the phrase
will have been
with the present participle of the verb (ending in –ing):

  • When this show ends, Molly
    will have been watching
    TV for three hours.

This sentence uses the
future perfect continuous
tense to say that, in the future, Molly will be watching TV for three hours when this show ends (which will also happen in the future). By using the
future perfect continuous tense,
this sentence also implies that Molly may still continue to watch TV even after the show is over.


Perfect grammar has never been easier

To avoid confusion, you should use one consistent tense whenever possible.

Incorrect: The crowd
claps
and
laughed
at the comedian.
Correct:
The crowd
clapped
and
laughed
at the comedian.

The incorrect example contains both a present tense verb (claps) and a past tense verb (laughed). This can be confusing. If both actions are past or present, both verbs should have the same tense.

One final uang jasa: you won’kaki langit mistake your verb tenses when you check your writing on Thesaurus.com’s Grammar Coach™. This writing tool uses machine learning technology uniquely designed to catch grammar and spelling errors. Its Synonym Swap will find the best nouns, adjectives, and more to help say what you really mean, guiding you toward clearer, stronger, writing.

Source: https://www.thesaurus.com/e/grammar/what-are-the-basic-verb-tenses/

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