What Are Verb Tenses

Verb Tenses

Verb Tenses

 
Sub Topics
  1. What are verb tenses?
  2. The Simple Present
  3. The Present Continuous/Progressive
  4. The Present Perfect Tense
  5. The Present Perfect Continuous
  6. The Simple Past Tense
  7. The Past Continuous Tense
  8. The Past Perfect Tense
  9. The Past Perfect Continuous Tense
  10. Simple Future Tense
  11. The Future Perfect Tenses
  12. Future Continuous Tense
  13. Subject/Verb Agreement
 
Verb Tenses

What are verb tenses?

By tenses, we mean the relationship between our concept of time and the forms of verbs. Time can be seen basically in terms of the present, past and future. This division corresponds to the present, past, and future tenses. Each of these tenses has the simple, the perfect, the progressive, and the perfect progressive tenses.

 
The Simple Present

Uses
a) To indicate things that may happen at the moment, at any time in the present. This is common when one talks about habits, routines, and hobbies. In this case, it is often accompanied by adverbials of time such as sometimes, never, always, often, usually, etcetera.
Habit: He always drives to school.
Routine: The earth revolves around the sun.
Hobby: He likes to swim.

Exercise
Complete the sentences below with the following words. (until, plays, always, leaves, unless, knows)
Wait __________ he comes.
When you dance, I ____________ feel happy.
If John _____________, we shall probably win.
I can’t come _____________ my mother agrees.
He _____________ for Douala on Friday and returns on Sunday.
She ______________ how to open the door

 
The Present Continuous/Progressive

It is formed by adding the auxiliary “is, am, or are” to the present participle of the verb. It is used in the following situations:
When something is happening at the actual time of speaking or over a period of time which includes the actual moment of speaking. E.g.:
You are sitting in class.
For planned future action, for example:
-We are writing a test next week.
-The prisoners are trying to escape.

 
The Present Continuous/Progressive

It is formed by adding the auxiliary “is, am, or are” to the present participle of the verb. It is used in the following situations:
When something is happening at the actual time of speaking or over a period of time which includes the actual moment of speaking. E.g.:
You are sitting in class.
for planned future action, for example:
We are writing a test next week.
The prisoners are trying to escape.

 
The Present Perfect Tense

It is formed by adding the auxiliary “have/has” to the past participle of the verb. It is used in the following cases:
when we talk about a recently completed action With just, already, now, and recently in statements and in questions.
e.g.: He has just/already gone to school.
To answer questions that contain a verb in the present perfect.
e.g: –Where have you been? I’ve been to see Paul.
      –What has happened? He has lost his bag.
to express an action that began in the past and is still taking place:
-I have played handball for some years (implying I still play)
-He has worked here for a long time (he still works here).
It should be noted that the auxiliary can be shortened to ‘ve for ‘have’ and ‘s for ‘has’.

 
The Present Perfect Continuous

Formed by adding has/have + been + present participle.
It is used for an action that has been happening for some time and is still continuing or has just stopped. It is often used with “since” + a definite or point of time. We can also use it with “for” + a length or period of time.
I have been waiting for you for thirty minutes.
They have been playing football since morning.

 
The Simple Past Tense

Uses
Mainly for completed past actions when the time is known or stated:
I carried out an experiment last night.
John went to the hospital yesterday.
To describe habitual past actions:
She always walked to school.

 
The Past Continuous Tense

Form: was/were + a present participle.
Uses:
To express a past action that was happening when another action was completed:
I saw him when I was walking home.
She lost the keys when she was playing handball.
to express two past actions which happened at the same time and which were both continuous:
I was singing while they were dancing.
to show what was happening at a past time:
At ten o’clock last night, I was watching television.
To replace the present continuous in reported speech:
Direct: He said, “I’m looking for my keys.”
Indirect/reported: He said he was looking for his keys.
used for canceled future action:
I was going to buy a test tube when Mary said she has already bought one for me.

 
The Past Perfect Tense

Form: had + a past participle
Uses:
To show which of two past actions happened first. In this case, the verb of the second action is in the simple past tense.
She went to bed after she had locked the door.
I had gone to the market when you called.
used in reported speech:
John told us that he had just passed his driving test.
used in conditional sentences which refer to the past:
If you had passed your exams, you would have gone on holiday.
used after “I wish, if only, I would rather, and I would sooner” when referring to a past event:
I wish I had not spent all the money.
I would rather you had not given him much water.
If only the teacher had been here.

 
The Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Form: had been + a present participle.
We can use this tense when the first of two past actions were continuous:
We stopped for a rest after we had been walking for two hours.
By the time he came home, she had been crying.

 
Simple Future Tense

Form: shall/will + infinitive without to.
In statements, we can use will with any subject but some people prefer to use shall after I and we. In questions, we must use shall before I and we. The main use of the simple future tense is for planned or unplanned future events.
Planned: Mary’s phone will arrive at two o’clock.
Unplanned: Who will win the race?

 
Future Continuous

Form: shall/will + be + present participle.
Uses:
To express an action that will be in progress at some time in the future.
We shall be waiting for you at four o’clock.
To express the future without intention (not especially planned).
He will be coming here tomorrow as usual.
NB To express doubt, we can use “may” in place of “shall” or “will”.
He may be coming here tomorrow.

 
The Future Perfect Tenses

Form:shall/will + have + a past participle (non continuous)
– shall + have + been + a present participle (continuous form).
The future perfect tense is used to express an action that will be completed or finished by some future time or date.
I shall have finished my assignment by ten o’clock. (future perfect)
By the end of the semester, I shall have been learning English for ten years (future perfect continuous).

 
Subject/Verb Agreement

In constructing sentences in the English language, the various parts of speech must agree with each other. The verb must agree with its subject in number. A singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural verb e.g. The cups are in the cupboard. Cups (plural subject) agree with are (plural verb) Note that a verb that takes an (s) is not a plural verb. It rather agrees with singular pronoun subjects except for I and you which agree with the plural that does not take an “s” e.g.
He makes it
She makes it
It makes it
That/this makes it
Nobody makes it
Everybody makes it
Everyone makes it
They make it
We make it
I make it
You make it

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related:

Aspects Of The English Language

The Verb And Forms

Adjectives and Adverbs

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