Tenses of Verbs. Definition, Types and Examples

Definition: Tenses tell us when an action happened.

Simple Tenses:

Simple Tenses
Past Present Future
Walked   Ate Walk   Eat  Will walk   Will eat

Simple tenses use the past form, the present form, and the present form with the helping verb will.

  • Last Sunday, I watched a movie.
  • Today I watch movie and my sister watches
  • Next Sunday, I will watch

Perfect tenses show when an action happened in relation to another action. The action in the past perfect began and ended before the event or time it is being related to. The action in the present perfect began in the past and continues up to the present or has ended by the present. The action in the future tense will be finished a particular point in the future.

Perfect Tenses
Past Perfect Present Perfect Future Perfect
Had walked   Had eaten Have walked   Have eaten Will have walked   Will have eaten

The perfect tenses use the helping verb to have (have/has, had) with the past participle of the verb. The verb to have changes to show the tense.

  • I have put the money in the machine.
  • I had finished my homework before mom called me for dinner.
  • By the time the show is over, Marie will have danced for 40 minutes.

Progressive tenses show that an action is or was ongoing or continuing at the same time as something else. The present progressive tense is used to talk about something that is happening right now.

Progressive Tenses
Past Progressive Present Progressive Future Progressive
was walking
was eating
am walking
am eating
will be walking
will be eating
  • Last week we were painting the house.
  • She is having a lot of trouble with her divorce.
  • We will be working quite closely.

Perfect progressive tenses are a combination of perfect (completed before) and progressive (ongoing) tenses which show that something began, continued, and ended before another action mentioned.

Perfect Progressive Tenses
Past Perfect Progressive Present Perfect Progressive Future Perfect Progressive
had been walking
had been eating
have been walking
have been eating
will have been walking
will have been eating
  • He had been partying all night, so he fell asleep in class.
  • She has been working there since July.
  • He will have been driving for an hour by the time he gets more.

Not a tense, but logically included in this section is the emphatic form. The emphatic form emphasizes that an action happened. It is also used in questions and in negative statements.

Emphatic Form
  Past Emphatic Present Emphatic      
did walk
did eat
do/does walk
do/does eat
There is no future emphatic because
you can’t emphasize something that
hasn’t been done yet.

The emphatic form uses the verb to do with the present form of the verb.

Find out tenses from the examples for exercise:

  • In November, we will have been living in Spain for eleven years.
  • Tony will tired when he gets here because he will have been exercising for four hours.
  • They play basketball every Sunday.
  • The snow will have stopped by April.
  • He was sleeping all night long.
  • Last week we were painting the house.
  • It will be raining the entire week.
  • When we arrive at their house tonight, they will be waiting.
  • The robbers will have taken all the money by the time anyone arrives.
  • Her heel will have fully healed by the summer.

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