Tenses of English

Tenses are a very important part of the English language, as they hold a sentence together and enable the speaker/writer to convey accurate information.

Tenses are an integral element of the eight parts of the English language. They help in conveying accurate information through speech/text and hold a text together. They are a necessity in any sentence formation. Basically, tenses are of four types:

  • Simple
  • Perfect
  • Continuous
  • Present Perfect Continuous       

Each of these tenses has a present, past and future form as well, which can be detailed as below:

Present Tense

Simple Present Tense: In this form of the tenses, nothing is mentioned about the conclusion of an action. The action is merely mentioned in this tense.

For example:

  • I eat.
  • I sleep.
  • I play.

Present Continuous Tense: This tense deals with the action being performed at a given point of time. Generally, the actions mentioned using these tenses are continuous in nature, i.e., they are on-going.

For example:

  • I am eating.
  • I am sleeping.
  • I am playing. 

Present Perfect Tense: In a present perfect tense, the action is completed successfully, which is why it’s termed as being perfect, as it has ended perfectly.

For example:

  • I have eaten.
  • I have slept.
  • I have played.

Present perfect Continuous Tense: Such a form of tenses is usually used when the action to be mentioned has been taking place for a while and is still on-going.

For example:

  • I have been eating.
  • I have been sleeping.
  • I have been playing.

Past Tense

Simple Past Tense: As the name suggests, an action mentioned in the simple past tense is understood to have taken place in the past and is simply mentioned.

For example:

  • I ate.
  • I slept.
  • I played.

Past Continuous Tense: From the past continuous tense, one can understand the action had been taking place till a certain point of time in the past.

For example:

  • I was eating.
  • I was sleeping.
  • I was playing.

Past Perfect Tense: This tense is used to express an action that took place before another action that followed it.

For example:

  • I had eaten.
  • I had slept.
  • I had played.

Past perfect Continuous Tense: In this tense, the action mentioned is something that started in the past and continued until another time in the past.

For example:

  • I had been eating.
  • I had been sleeping.
  • I had been playing.

Future Tense

Simple Future Tense: Simple future tense involves decision making. It is when a person decides to perform a particular action and may or may not declare the same.

For example:

  • I will eat.
  • I will sleep.
  • I will play.

Future Continuous Tense: The future continuous tense is used to express an action of the future that will not have been completed until a certain point of time in future.

For example:

  • I will be eating at 9 a.m.
  • I will be sleeping when you arrive.
  • I will be playing at 5 p.m.

Future Perfect Tense: Future perfect tense describes an action that will be duly completed before another action starts taking place after it.

For example:

  • I will have eaten before 10 a.m.
  • I will have slept before you arrive.
  • I will have played before 6 p.m.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense: This tense is used to discuss an action that would be on-going before a mentioned time in future.

For example:

I will have been sleeping for two hours when you arrive.

I will have been playing for an hour when it is 5 p.m.

Tenses of English: A Review

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