Tenses in English Grammar

Tenses

Tenses in English Grammar

Tenses in English Grammar

 

The tense means time. The tense of the verb shows not only the time of action but also its continuance or completion. Here, you are going to learn an overview of Tenses in English Grammar with examples, Tenses rules and Tenses Chart. For more detailed learning click the links of the individual tenses.

 

Types of Tenses in English Grammar:

There are three main tenses in English –  namely, the Present, the Past and the Future.

 

Each of these Main Tenses in English Grammar has four forms:

  • The Simple Tense
  • The Continuous Tense 
  • The Perfect Tense
  • The Perfect Continuous Tense

 

Present Tense: It describes the action that takes place in the present. Its four subdivisions are: 

(a) Present Simple Tense (b) Present Continuous Tense (c) Present Perfect Tense (d) Present Perfect Continuous Tense 

Past Tense: It describes the action that took place in the past. Its four subdivisions are:

(a) Past Simple Tense (b) Past Continuous Tense (c) Past Perfect Tense (d) Past Perfect Continuous Tense 

 Future Tense: It describes the action that takes place in the future. Its four subdivisions are:

(a) Future Simple Tense (b) Future Continuous Tense (c)  Future Perfect Tense  (d) Future Perfect Continuous Tense

 

Before we attempt to learn the tenses, let us have a brief idea of the topics like verbs’ forms, ‘be’ forms, ‘have’ forms and persons of which knowledge is highly helpful to understand the topic easily. 

 

The Verb:

A verb is a word that tells about action (or doing), a state of being (or existence), or possession.

  • Shivani is a teacher (state of being or existence) 
  • Shivani has a car (possession)
  • Shivani has purchased the car recently (action or doing

 

An English verb has the following forms:

Present Tense (base form/plain infinitive) Past Tense  Past Participle  Present Participle    (- ing form) Third Person Singular              (-s form)
V1 V2 V3 V4 V5
do did done doing does
go went gone going` goes
come came come coming comes
eat ate eaten eating eats
drink drank drunk drinking drinks
play played played playing plays
write wrote written writing writes
‘Be’ forms: can be used as helping verbs as well as main verbs
(be) am/are was/were been being is
‘Have’ forms: can be used as helping verbs as well as main verbs
have had had having has

 

Click here for a detailed list of the verbs

 

Persons: 

In English Grammar, persons refer to 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons and they are Personal Pronouns.   

First-person:     The person(s) speaking (I, We)

Second-person:  The person(s) spoken to (You)

Third-person: The person(s)/thing(s)whom about we speak (He, She, It and They)

 

Here is a list of Personal Pronouns and their different forms.   

Persons Singular/Plural Subjective Case Objective Case Possessive Case Reflexive Pronouns
I Singular I me  mine / my myself 
Plural We us our / ours ourselves
II Singular You you your / yours yourself
Plural You you your / yours yourselves
III Singular He him his himself
She her her / hers herself
It it its itself
Plural They them their / theirs themselves

 

12 Types of Tenses with examples and formulas (rules)

Here is a more detailed English Grammar Tenses Table wherein you find twelve Tenses with rules in four important sentences – Affirmative, Negative, Interrogative and Negative Interrogative.

Structure, Uses and Signal Words of the 12 Types of Tenses

Present Simple (Subject + V1 / V5 + Object)                                                                  
Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
Universal Truths and facts

Habitual and Routine Activities

Likes and dislikes

Quotations and Proverbs

Future official events when they are scheduled

Past events in narrations for vivid description

In sports commentaries like cricket

In newspaper headlines

every day/week/month,

once in a week/month,

always, normally, regularly, rarely, usually, occasionally, daily, always, seldom, never, often, sometimes, 

on Sundays….,

if sentence type I (If I talk, …)

 

 

 

I/We/You play cricket. I/We/You do not play cricket. Do I/we/you play cricket?
He/She/It plays cricket. He/She/It does not play cricket Does he/she play cricket?
They play cricket. They do not play cricket Do they play cricket?
Ricky plays cricket. Ricky does not play cricket. Does Ricky play cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo play cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo do not play cricket. Do Ricky and Tinkoo play cricket?
Present Continuous (Subject+Be+V1+Ing+Object) “BE’ forms: AM/IS/ARE                         
Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action going on at the time of speaking

now, at the moment, presently, at present, right now,

Look!, Listen!, just now,

currently

 

 

I am playing cricket. I am not playing cricket. Am I playing cricket?
He/She/It is playing cricket. He/She/It is not playing cricket. Is he/she/it playing cricket?
They/We/You are playing cricket. They/We/You are not playing cricket. Are they/we/you playing cricket?
Ricky is playing cricket. Ricky is not playing cricket. Is Ricky playing cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo are playing cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo are not playing cricket. Are Ricky and Tinkoo playing cricket?

Present Perfect (Subject+Have/Has+V3+Object) 

Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action just completed

Past events without a specific time

till now,

up to now,

just,

ever,

never,

not yet,

recently,

already,

lately,

so far,

today,

since, 

for,

this week….month…year

I/We have played cricket. I/We have not played cricket. Have I/we played cricket?
He/She/It has played cricket. He/She/It has not played cricket. Has he/she/it played cricket?
They/You have played cricket. They/You have not played cricket. Have they/you played cricket?
Ricky has played cricket. Ricky has not played cricket. Has Ricky played cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo have played cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo have not played cricket. Have Ricky and Tinkoo played cricket?
Present Perfect Continuous (Subject+Have/Has+Been+V1+Ing+Object)                    
Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
Action started in the past and is still continuing for 4 years, 

since 2016,

all day, 

how long?

the whole week

I/We have been playing cricket. I/We have not been playing cricket. Have I/we been playing cricket?
He/Se/It has been playing cricket. He/She/It has not been playing cricket. Has he/she/it been playing cricket?
They/You have been playing cricket. They/You have not been playing cricket. Have they/you been playing cricket?
Ricky has been playing cricket. Ricky has not been playing cricket. Has Ricky been playing cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo have been playing cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo have not been playing cricket. Have Ricky and Tinkoo been playing cricket?
Past Simple (Subject+V2+Object)      
Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action completed in the past often referring to the time

For past habits

last night….month…year, yesterday,

last Friday,

5 minutes ……ago,

in 1990….,

if sentence type II (If I talked, …)

I/We played cricket. I/We did not play cricket. Did I/we play cricket?
He/She/It Played cricket. He/She/It did not play cricket. Did he/she/it play cricket?
They/You played cricket. They/You did not play cricket. Did they/you play cricket?
Ricky played cricket. Ricky did not play cricket. Did Ricky play cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo played cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo did not play cricket. Did Ricky and Tinkoo play cricket?

Past Continuous (Subject+Be+V1+Ing+Object) “BE’ forms: WAS/WERE

Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action going on at a certain point of time in the past while

 

by the same yesterday

I was playing cricket. I was not playing cricket. Was I playing cricket?
He/She/It was playing cricket. He/She/It was not playing cricket. Was he/she/it playing cricket?
They/You/We were playing cricket. They/You/We were not playing cricket. Were they/you/we playing cricket?
Ricky was playing cricket. Ricky was not playing cricket. Was Ricky playing cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo were playing cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo were not playing cricket. Were Ricky and Tinkoo playing cricket?

Past Perfect (Subject+Had+V3+Object)

Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action completed before another action in the past already

when

before

after

if sentence type III (If I had talked, …)

I/We had played cricket. I/We had not played cricket. Had I/we played cricket?
He/She/It had played cricket. He/She/It had not played cricket. Had he/she/it played cricket?
They/You had played cricket. They/You had not played cricket. Had they/you played cricket?
Ricky had played cricket. Ricky had not played cricket. Had Ricky played cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo had played cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo had not played cricket. Had Ricky and Tinkoo played cricket?
Past Perfect Continuous (Subject+Had+Been+V1+Ing+Object)                                     
Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action started before a certain point of time in the past and continued up to that time for,  

since, 

the whole day, 

all-day…,

I/We had been playing cricket. I/We had not been playing cricket. Had I/we been playing cricket?
He/She/It had been playing cricket. He/She/It had not been playing cricket. Had he/she/it been playing cricket?
They/You had been playing cricket. They/You had not been playing cricket. Had they/you been playing cricket?
Ricky had been playing cricket. Ricky had not been playing cricket. Had Ricky been playing cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo had been playing cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo had not been playing cricket. Had Ricky and Tinkoo been playing cricket?

Future Simple (Subject+Shall/Will+V1+Object)

Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action that takes place in the future in a year,

tomorrow,

in the future,

next week/month/

Monday,

If-Sentence 

Type I (If you ask her, she will help you.)

I/We shall play cricket. I/We shall not play cricket. Shall I/we play cricket?
He/She/It will play cricket. He/She/It will not play cricket. Will he/she/it play cricket?
They/You will play cricket. They/You will not play cricket. Will they/you play cricket?
Ricky will play cricket. Ricky will not play cricket. Will Ricky play cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo will play cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo will not play cricket. Will Ricky and Tinkoo play cricket?
Future Continuous (Subject+Shall/Will+Be+V1+Ing+Object)                                       
Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action going on at a certain point of time in future at 4 o’clock tomorrow, this time next week etc., I/We shall be playing cricket. I/We shall not be playing cricket. Shall I/we be playing cricket?
He/She/It will be playing cricket. He/She/It will not be playing cricket. Will he/she/it be playing cricket?
They/You will be playing cricket. They/You will not be playing cricket. Will they/you be playing cricket?
Ricky will be playing cricket. Ricky will not be playing cricket. Will Ricky be playing cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo will be playing cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo will not be playing cricket. Will Ricky and Tinkoo be playing cricket?
Future Perfect (Subject+Shall/Will+Have+V3+Object)                                         
Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
An action expected to be completed by a certain point of time in future by

 

before

I/We shall have played cricket. I/We shall not have played cricket. Shall I/we have played cricket?
He/She/It will have played cricket. He/She/It will not have played cricket. Will he/she/it have played cricket?
They/You will have played cricket. They/You will not have played cricket. Will they/you have played cricket?
Ricky will have played cricket. Ricky will not have played cricket. Will Ricky have played cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo will have played cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo will not have played cricket. Will Ricky and Tinkoo have played cricket?
Future Perfect Continuous (Subject+Shall/Will+Have+Been+V1+Ing+Object)            
Tense Uses Signal Words Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
The action starts at a point and continues up to another point of time in future By,

other time expressions

I/We shall have been playing cricket. I/We shall not have been playing cricket. Shall I/we have been playing cricket?
He/She/It will have been playing cricket. He/She/It will not have been playing cricket. Will he/she/it have been playing cricket?
They/You will have been playing cricket. They/You will not have been playing cricket. Will they/you have been playing cricket?
Ricky will have been playing cricket. Ricky will not have been playing cricket. Will Ricky have been playing cricket?
Ricky and Tinkoo will have been playing cricket. Ricky and Tinkoo will not have been playing cricket. Will Ricky and Tinkoo have been playing cricket?

Want to know the conjugation of other verbs

 

Present Simple Tense

Present Continuous Tense

Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Continuous Tense 

 

Past Simple Tense 

Past Continuous Tense 

Past Perfect Tense 

Past Perfect Continuous Tense 

 

Future Simple Tense

Future Continuous Tense  

Future Perfect Tense  

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

 

 

 

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