Tenses | English Grammar

Tenses show the time when verb occurred.

In language, there are times when have to show whether the event happened now, is currently happening now or happened in the past. Tenses are something that allows us to do that. They are a category that expresses time reference. Tenses are mainly applicable with verbs. They allow the speaker to change the context of the verb to denote when the action is happening.

For example: Mary runs. Mary is running. Mary ran. These are three different sentences that all use some form of the verb, run: run/running/ran. By using a variation of the verb, run, the speaker says something different, giving a different context to each sentence. ‘Mary runs’ states that Mary runs on a daily basis, something like Mary runs every morning. However, Mary is not running right now, to show that the sentence would be ‘Mary is running’; like Mary is running right now. ‘Mary ran’ indicates that Mary ran in the past, like Mary ran last night.

There are three main types of tenses: present, past, and future. They do exactly as their name suggests. The present tense is used in the present, the past tense is used in the past, and the future tense is used in the future. The future tense often incorporates the terms, ‘will’ and ‘shall’, to show the future.

Things get complicated when we realize that each of the present, past, and future tenses, have four different types of tenses.

Past Tense:
Simple past tense: I go
Past progressive tense: I am going
Past perfect tense: I have gone
Past perfect progressive tense: I have been going

Present Tense:
Simple present tense: I went
Present progressive tense: I was going
Present perfect tense: I had gone
Present perfect progressive tense: I had been going

Future Tense:
Simple future tense: I will go
Future progressive tense: I will be going
Future perfect tense: I will have gone
Future perfect progressive tense: I will have been going

Examples of Past Tense:
Bill worked hard.
The store was open at 9.
Tom thought it was a good idea.
I felt so tired.
They didn’t need his help.
England was part of the Roman Empire.

Examples of Present Tense:
Bill works hard.
The store opens at 9.
Tom thinks it is a good idea.
I feel so tired.
They don’t need his help.
London is in England.

Examples of Future Tense:
Bill will work hard.
The store will open at 9.
Tom will think it is a good idea.
I will feel so tired.
They will not need his help.
All empires will fall.

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