Master The 12 Basic Tenses of English



The verb form that indicates the 'time and state' of action is called tense.


In English, tenses are broadly categorized into three types i.e. Past, Present and Future which are further subdivided into four categories each, making a total of twelve types of tenses.


In this section, each type of tense is described in detail along with many examples to make the concept clear.


PAST TENSE


SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons

The past tense places an action or situation in past time. It expresses actions that have occurred or a state that existed previously.


Types of past tense:-


a) Simple Past Tense


Rule: Subject + V2

This tense can be used to denote an action that took place in the past and has been completely finished. It is usually formed by using the past participle form of the base verb. The auxiliary did + base form is also used for the formation of the simple past tense.


Examples:

  • Peter studied at 2 p.m. in the afternoon yesterday.

  • Tom called the police

  • Alex did not complete her work last week.


b) Past Continuous Tense


Rule: Subject + was/were + V1 + ing +Object

This tense is used to describe an action that went on for some time in the past. This tense is usually used with action concerned was in progress during another action that happened in the past.


Examples:

  • I was learning my lesson

  • At 6 p.m. yesterday, I was reading a book.

  • Tina was taking a nap when I reached her home.


c) Past Perfect Tense


Rule: Subject + had + V3 + Object

This tense describes an action which has definitely ended in the past. It denotes an action completed at some point in the past before another action started. It generally compares two actions that took place in different time periods in the past.


Examples:

  • The ceremony had begun way before we arrived. (The event of the ceremony started before the act of arrival took place.)

  • Thomas had eaten an apple when he left for work. (This means Thomas ate an apple before he went to work.)

  • Ronald had left the party when the delegation arrived.


d) Past Perfect Continuous Tense


Rule: Subject + had been + V1 + ing + Object

This tense describes actions that began at a particular point of time in the past and continued for a specific length of time up to another moment in the past.


Examples:

  • I had been reading the book since 9 in the morning.

  • The house looked very clean because Maya had been cleaning it for several days.

  • Susie passed with flying colours because she had been working hard for 5 years.


PRESENT TENSE



SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons


The present tense locates a situation or event in the present time. It is used for actions in a time which are happening now.


Types of Present Tense:-


a) Simple Present Tense


Rule: Subject + V1

The simple present tense is used to talk about facts, general truths, habits and routines.


Examples:


  • Water boils at 100 degree Celsius.

  • He goes to the park every day.


b) Present Continuous Tense


Rule: Subject + is/am/are + V1 + ing + Object


The present continuous tense is used to talk about actions and situations that are going on at the moment of speaking.


Examples:

  • Martin is working in his garage.

  • We are playing cricket in the playground.


c) Present Perfect Tense


Rule : Subject + has/have + V3 + Object

The present perfect tense expresses an action that began in the past time and is completed at the present time.


Examples:

  • I have lived here for years

  • He has completed his work.


d) Present Perfect Continuous Tense


Rule: Subject + has/have + been + V1 + ing + Object

This tense shows an action that began in the past and is continuing up at the present time.

Note:

  • 'For' is used for a period of time.

  • 'Since' is used for a point of time.


FUTURE TENSE



SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons

This tense expresses an action that has not yet happened or a state that does not yet exist.


Types of Future Tense:


a) Simple Future Tense


Rule: Subject + will/shall + V1

Expresses:

  • An action in future

  • Determination, intention of a speaker.

Eg- He will finish his work by tomorrow


b) Future Continous Tense


Rule: Subject + will/shall + be + V1ing + Object

Indicates:

  • An action that will be continuing at some point in the future.

Eg- I shall be leaving for Paris at that time.


c) Future Perfect Tense


Rule: Subject + will/shall + have + V3 + Object

Expresses:

  • An action that will be completed in the future before another action takes place.

Eg- You will have washed your face before you come to school.


d) Future Perfect Continuous Tense


Rule: Subject + will/shall + have + V3 + Object

Shows

  • An action that will have been going on at or before some point of time in the future.

  • For is used for a period of time

  • Since is used for a point of time

Eg- Ekansh will have been living there for two months by this time.

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