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Tenses: Grammar

Tenses: Introduction

  1. A verb that refers to the present time is called present tense.

    1. Example: I love roses.

  2. A verb that refers to the past is called past tense.

    1. Example: I wrote a letter.

  3. A verb that refers to the future is called future tense.

    1. Example: I shall write a story. 

Examples of present tenses(types):-

  1. I write letters. (simple present)

  2. I am writing a letter. (present continuous)

  3. I have written a letter. (present perfect)

  4. I have been writing a letter. (Present perfect continuous)

Eg.1 states the action simply, without mentioning anything about the completeness or incompleteness of the action. 

Eg.2 States the action as incomplete or on-going.

Eg.3 shows that the action mentioned is finished, complete, or perfect at the time of speaking.

Eg.4 shows that the action is going on continuously and not completed at this present moment.

Similar example for all other tenses is shown in the picture below:-


Simple present tense

  1. To express a habitual action. 

Eg. He drinks tea everyday.

  1. To express general truth.

Eg. Honey is sweet.

  1. In exclamatory sentences beginning with here and there and happening at the present moment.

Eg. Here comes the bus!

  1. To express a future event that is a part of a fixed timetable or routine.

Eg. The train leaves at 6:00.

  1. To introduce quotations.

Eg. Harry read, “Magic is might.”

  1. It is used instead of future tense, in clauses of time and condition.

Eg. If it rains, we shall get wet.

Present continuous tense

  1. For an action on-going at the moment of speaking.

Eg. It is raining heavily.

  1. For a temporary action which may not be exactly happening at the time of speaking.

Eg. I am reading the ‘Divergent’ series. (but not at the moment)

  1. For an action that has already been arranged to take place in the near future.

Eg. My uncle is arriving tonight.

Present perfect tense

  1. To indicate completed activities in the immediate past.

Eg. He has just gone out.

  1. To express past actions whose time is not given and not definite 

Eg. Have you watched, “Your name”?

  1. To describe past events when we think more of its effect than the action itself.

Eg. Tris ate all the biscuits. (There isn’t any left for you.)

  1. To denote an action beginning at some time in the past and continuing up to the present movement.

Eg. He has been ill since last week.

Present perfect continuous tense

  1. To indicate action that began sometime in the past and is still ongoing.

Eg. He has been reading for four hours. (and is still reading)

  1. The tense is sometimes used for the action that has already completed but the continuity of the action is emphasised as an explanation of something.

Eg. The clothes are wet because I have been watering the garden.

Simple past tense

  1. To indicate an action completed in the past. It often occurs with adverbs or adverb phrases of past tense.

Eg.  The steamer sailed yesterday.

Sometimes, it’s used without the adverb of time. In such cases, the time is either implied or indicated by context.

Eg. I learnt table tennis in the basement hall. 

  1. To show past habits.

Eg. Tessie studied for many hours a day.

Past continuous tense

  1. To denote an action ongoing sometime in the past. The time of action may or may not be indicted.

Eg. It was getting darker.

  1. The tense is also used with always, continually, etc. for persistent habits in the past.

Eg. He was always playing chess.

Past perfect tense

  1. To describe an action completed before a certain moment in the past.

Eg. Taki met Mitsuha in Tokyo in 2013. Taki had seen her last three years before in Itamori.

  1. To show which action happened earlier among the two actions of the past.

Eg. I had written the letter before he arrived.

Past perfect continuous tense

  1. To denote an action that began at a certain time in the past and continued upto that time.

Eg. At that time, she had been writing a novel for three months.

Simple future tense

  1. To describe things that we cannot control. It expresses the future as a fact.

Eg. I shall be sixteen later this year.

  1. To talk about what we think/believe will happen in the future.

Eg. I think Elon Musk will become the richest man again.

  1. It is used when we decide to do something at the time of speaking.

Eg. It is raining. I will take an umbrella.

  1. [GOING TO]

  • We use (be going to + base of the verb) when we have decided to do something before talking about it. 

Eg. “Have you decided what to do?” “Yes, I am going to resign from the job.”

  • To talk about what seems likely or certain, when there is something in the present that tells us about the future.

Eg. It is going to rain. Look at those clouds.

  • To express an action which is at the point of happening.

Eg. Look! The cracker is going to explode.

  1. (Be about to + base form) can be used for the immediate future.

Eg. Don’t go out now. We’re about to have lunch.

Future continuous tense

  1. To talk about actions which will be in progress at a time in future.

Eg. I suppose it will be raining when we leave tomorrow.

  1. To talk about things in the future that are already planned or which are expected to happen in the normal course of things.

Eg. Fernando will be meeting us next week.


We use (be to + base form) to talk about official plans or arrangements. 

Eg. The conference is to discuss “Space exploration.”

Future Perfect tense

  1. To talk about actions that will be completed by a certain future time.

Eg. Ivin shall have published the book by then.

Future perfect continuous tense

(this tense is not very common.)

  1. For actions which will be in progress over a period of time that will end in the future.

Eg. By next June, we shall have been studying here for two years.