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Tenses in English Grammar with Examples

Tense is a form of a verb which is used to indicate the time, and sometimes the continuation or completeness, of an action in relation to the time of speaking. The origin of the word Tense is the latin word Tempus, which means Time. In simple words we can say that the Tense is a method which is used to refer to time – past, present and future. Tense tells you when the action happens.  Anchor

There are three main tenses:

  1. Present Tense
  2. Past Tense and
  3. Future Tense

Each main tense is divided into sub tenses like

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

lets have a look at the following table

Tenses Table:

  Simple Continuous Perfect Perfect Progressive
Present Write am/is/are writing have/has written have/has been writing
Past Wrote was/were writing had written had been writing
Future will / shall write will be / shall be writing will have / shall have written will have been /shall have been finishing

Now lets discuss the usage of tenses. I mean when, where and how to use tenses.

Usage of Tenses:

Present Simple: A present simple tense is used,

  • to show a regular or habitual actions or a universal truth

Ex:

The sun rises in the east

He goes to school at 9.AM everyday

  • in future clauses of time and condition

Ex:

If it rains, I shall not come

I shall come as soon as I finish my homework.

Present Continuous: A Present continuous tense is used,

  • to show an action which is now in progress

Ex:

The servant is watering the plants

The children are playing outside

  • to show a temporary action which is not actually in progress at that time.

Ex:

He is staying with his uncle.

  • to show as already decided future action.

Ex:

We are going for a movie today evening.

The Prime minister is visiting the cities tomorrow.

Present Perfect: A present perfect tense is used,

  • to show an action completed in the immediate past.

Ex:

He has just left the class.

We have just decided to go for a movie.

  • to show a past action where the time of action is unknown or indefinite.

Ex:

He has gone to Bombay.

I have seen you somewhere.

  • to talk of a past action extending up to the present.

Ex:

Forty years have passed since India became Independent.

He has been in hospital since Monday.

Present Perfect Continuous:

A Present Perfect Continuous tense is used to show an action already started and still going on.

Ex:

He has been waiting for you for two hours.

I have been staying here since 1985.

Past Simple: A Past simple tense is used,

  • to show an action completed in the past

Ex:

I got your letter last week.

He went to Bombay yesterday.

  • to show a discontinued past habitual action.

Ex:

We met in my house on every Sunday last year.

While in Bombay I went for a movie on every Sunday.

Past Continuous:

A past continuous tense is used to show an action which was going on at a particular time in the past.

Ex:

When I saw him he was reading a novel.

He jumped out of the train while it was moving.

Past Perfect:

A Past Perfect tense is used to show an action which was over at a past time.

Ex:

The train had left before we reached the station.

I had finished my work before the guests arrived.

Past Perfect Continuous:

A past perfect continuous tense is used to show an action started earlier and was going on up-to a particular time in the past.

Ex:

When I joined the college Mr. Sharma had been teaching there for three years.

When I met him he had been painting a picture for three days.

Future Simple:

A Future Simple tense is used to show an action which is yet to happen.

Ex:

The classes will commence on next Monday.

I shall meet you next week.

Future Continuous:

A Future Continuous tense is used to show an action which will be over at a particular time in the future.

Ex:

When I reach home,. my friends will be waiting for me.

When you come tomorrow I shall be writing the notes.

Future Perfect:

A Future Perfect tense is used to show an action which will be over at a particular time in the future.

Ex:

By the time we reach there, the classes will have started.

Your uncle will have left for office before you reach there.

Future Perfect Continuous:

A Future Perfect Continuous is used to show an already started action which will be going on for a particular time in the future.

Ex:

By the end of this year, we will have been studying here for five years.

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