Verb Tenses

In English, there are three basic tenses: present, past, and future. Each has a perfect form, indicating completed action; each has a progressive form, indicating ongoing action; and each has a perfect progressive form, indicating ongoing action that will be completed at some definite time

-Simple Forms-

Present Tense

Present tense expresses an unchanging, repeated, or reoccurring action or situation that exists only now. It can also represent a widespread truth


The mountains are tall and white =Unchanging action
Every year, the school council elects new members = Unchanging action
Pb is the chemical symbol for lead= Widespread truth

Past Tense

Past tense expresses an action or situation that was started and finished in the past. Most past tense verbs end in -ed. The irregular verbs have special past tense forms which must be memorized


W.W.II ended in 1945.= Regular -ed past
Ernest Hemmingway wrote "The Old Man and the Sea". =Irregular form

Future Tense

Future tense expresses an action or situation that will occur in the future. This tense is formed by using will/shall with the simple form of the verb
The speaker of the House will finish her term in May of 1998
The future tense can also be expressed by using am, is, or are with going to
The surgeon is going to perform the first bypass in Minnesota
We can also use the present tense form with an adverb or adverbial phrase to show future time
The president speaks tomorrow. Tomorrow is a future time adverb

-Progressive Forms-

Present Progressive Tense

Present progressive tense describes an ongoing action that is happening at the same time the statement is written. This tense is formed by using am/is/are with the verb form ending in -ing
The sociologist is examining the effects that racial discrimination has on society

Past Progressive Tense

Past progressive tense describes a past action which was happening when another action occurred. This tense is formed by using was/were with the verb form ending in -ing
The explorer was explaining the lastest discovery in Egypt when protests began on the streets

Future Progressive Tense

Future progressive tense describes an ongoing or continuous action that will take place in the future. This tense is formed by using will be or shall be with the verb form ending in -ing
Dr. Jones will be presenting ongoing research on sexist ******** next week

-Perfect Forms-
Present Perfect Tense

Present perfect tense describes an action that happened at an indefinite time in the past or that began in the past and continues in the present.This tense is formed by using has/have with the past participle of the verb. Most past participles end in -ed. Irregular verbs have special past participles that must be memorized


The researchers have traveled to many countries in order to collect more significant data. =At an indefinite time
Women have voted in presidential elections since 1921. =Continues in the present

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