Practicing Verb Tenses

 

 

There are twelve basic verb tenses in English:

·        4 present time verb tenses:  simple, progressive, perfect, perfect progressive

·        4 past time verb tenses:  simple, progressive, perfect, perfect progressive

·        4 future time verb tenses:  simple, progressive, perfect, perfect progressive

 

Remember, progressive tenses describe an action that is progressing or continuing, and perfect tenses compare two actions. 

 

Present Tenses

 

Simple Present:

Used for things which are consistently true.  Habits, facts, current conditions, and sometimes future time if it is clarified with a future time marker take this tense.

 

Simple Present

Present Action or Condition

General Truths

Non-action; Habitual Action

Future Time

·         I hear you.

·         Here comes the bus.

·         There are thirty days in September.

·         I like music.

·         I run on Tuesdays and Sundays.

·         The train leaves at 4:00 p.m.


TIP:  Third person singular in simple present takes an “s” after the verb. (Ex.  The dog likes treats.  The dogs like treats.)

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the present tense.

 

Present Progressive: 

Used to discuss activities currently in progress.  Sometimes used to express future tense if used with verbs of travel and with a future time marker (ex.  He is flying to Aruba tomorrow.)

Present Progressive:  Simple Present form of “be” + -ing form of the verb

Activity in Progress

Verbs of Perception

·         I am playing soccer now

·         He is feeling sad

 

TIP:  Progressive tenses always needs to have the “be” verb with the “-ing” form of the verb.  Without “be” there is not tense.  (Ex.  Hiking in the woods = NOT A SENTENCE because there is an incomplete tense.

          I am hiking in the woods. = COMPLETE SENTENCE with a full progressive tense.) 

Also, stative or nonprogressive verbs cannot be put into the progressive tenses.  For a list of non-progressive verbs, click here.

Listening: CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the present progressive tense.

 

 

Present Perfect: 

Compares the present with something that occurred in the past and used to discuss one of three things:

1.    Something that began in the past and continues to the present – this is often used with “for” or “since” (ex.  I have studied at OCC since last fall.)

2.    A repeated action in the past. (ex.  I have flown on a plane many times.)

3.    An event that occurred at an unspecified time in the past.  (ex.  I have visited New York. = When I did it is not important.  The action is important.)

Present Perfect:  Have/Has with a past participle

With verbs of state that begin in the past and lead up to and include the present

To express habitual or continued action

With events occurring at an indefinite or unspecified time in the past -- with ever, never, before

·         He has lived here for many years.

·         He has worn glasses all his life.

·         Have you ever been to Tokyo before?


TIP:  Once you use a past time marker, you must use past tense.  (Ex.  I have been to Mexico last week = NO!  I can’t say this.  I have to say, “I went to Mexico last week.” OR “I have been to Mexico

“For” is used with duration of time:  six weeks, five years, ten months, two minutes, etc.

“Since” is used with specific points of time:  last night, 2:00, Friday, this morning, etc.

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to practice the present perfect tense.

 

 

Present Perfect Progressive:  Have/Has + been + -ing form of verb

To express duration of an action that began in the past, has continued into the present, and may continue into the future

·         David has been working for two hours, and he hasn't finished yet.

 

TIP:  Remember, progressive tenses always needs to have the “be” verb with the “-ing” form of the verb.  Therefore, for this tense, be becomes the past participle “been” in order to make it a perfect tense.

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the present perfect progressive tense.

 

 

Past Tenses

 

Simple Past

Completed Action

Completed Condition

·         We visited the museum yesterday.

·         The weather was rainy last week.


TIP:  Watch out for irregular verbs that do not take the basic “-ed” form in the past tense.  For a list of irregular verbs,        click here.

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the simple past tense.

 

 

Past Progressive:  was/were + -ing form of verb

Past Action that took place over a period of time

Past Action interrupted by another action. Used with a past time clause beginning with when and while.  Actions expressed with “when” happened after the main action, and actions expressed with “while” began before the action in the main clause occurred..

·         They were climbing for twenty-seven days.

·         We were eating dinner when she told me. (first we started dinner, then she told me)

·         While I was brushing my teeth, I dropped the toothpaste on the floor. (first I started brushing, then I dropped the toothpaste)  


Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the past progressive tense.

 

Past Perfect: 

Compares two events that occurred in the past and often used with a time clause beginning with “when,” “before,” or “after.”  The past perfect tense is always the action that occurred first in the sentence. 

 

Past Perfect: had + past participle


to describe a past event or condition completed before another event in the past

In reported speech

·         When I arrived home, he had already called. (first he called, then I arrived home.)

·         After he had cleaned everything up, we came home.

·         Before he crashed the car, he had made his last payment on it. (first he made the payment, then he crashed the car)

·         Jane said that she had gone to the movies.


Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the past perfect tense.

 

 

Past Perfect Progressive:  had + been + -ing form of verb


to emphasize the duration of an activity that was in progress before another activity or time in the past.

to express an activity in progress recent to another time or activity in the past.

·         The mother had been looking for the purse she wanted for two months before she found it. (first she started looking, then she found it)

·         The boy’s face was bruised because he had been fighting with his friends. (he just came in from fighting and the evidence is still apparent)

 

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the past perfect progressive tense.

 

 

Future Tenses

 

Future

With will/won't -- Activity or event that will or won't exist or happen in the future

With going to -- future in relation to circumstances in the present

·         I'll get up late tomorrow.

·         I won't get up early.

·         I'm hungry.

·         I'm going to get something to eat.


TIP:  The simple future can be used with “will” or “be going to.”  However, English speakers often use one or the other depending on the circumstances.  For rules on the use of these two future forms, click here.

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the simple future tense.

 

Future progressive:  will + be + -ing form of verb

Expresses an event that will be in progress at a time in the future.

Sometimes, there is no difference between future progressive and simple future, especially if the even will occur at an indefinite time.

·         Tonight, when you come over, I will be studying.

·         Don’t worry.  We will be eating soon.

·         Don’t worry.  We will eat soon.

 

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the future progressive tense.

 

 

Future perfect:  will + have + past participle

to express action that will be completed by or before a specified time in the future

·         By the next time we meet, I will have finished this job.

·         He won't have finished his work until 2:00.

TIP:  Time clauses that begin with “By the time” are often used with this tense.  Notice that the simple present is used in the “by” clause.

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the future perfect tense.

 

 

 

Future perfect progressive:  will + have + been + -ing form of the verb

Emphasizes the duration of an activity that will be in progress before another activity or event in the future.

Sometimes future perfect and future perfect progressive give the same meaning. 

·         I will have been studying for two hours by the time he gets home.

·         By 9:00 this evening, I will have been standing on my feet for almost 15 hours.

·         By the end of this semester, I will have been studying at OCC for 18 months.

·         By the end of this semester, I will have studied at OCC for 18 months.

 

Listening:  CLICK HERE to listen to and practice the future perfect progressive tense.