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Ever wondered how we effortlessly talk about past memories, present activities, and future plans? This magic lies in the verb tenses we use. Mastering verb tenses can significantly enhance your communication skills, making your writing and speaking clearer and more effective.

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on verb tenses! Whether you are a student aiming to improve your grammar, a professional looking to refine your writing skills, or an educator seeking to help your students understand verb tenses, this guide is for you.

The tense of a verb indicates the time of the action or of the state of being expressed by the verb.

6 Tenses

Each verb in English has six tenses: present, past, future, present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. These six tenses are formed from the four principal parts of each verb.

PRESENT We are artists. We paint. [existing or happening now]
PAST We were artists. We painted. [existing or happening in the past]
FUTURE We will be artists. We will paint. [existing or happening in the future]
PRESENT PERFECT We have been artists. We have painted. [existing or happening sometime before now; may be continuing now]
PAST PERFECT We had been artists. We had painted. [existing or happening before a specific time in the past]
FUTURE PERFECT We will have been artists. We will have painted. [existing or happening before a specific time in the future]

Listing the forms of a verb according to tense is called conjugating the verb
    I paint. 
    I have painted. 
  • PAST
    I painted. 
    I had painted. 
    I will paint. 
    I will have painted.

Notice that helping verbs are used with four of the tenses: the future, present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect tenses.

Progressive Forms of Verbs

Each of the six verb tenses has a form called the progressive form, which expresses continuing action or state of being. Each progressive form consists of a form of the verb be and the present participle (–ing form) of the verb.

    am creating, is creating, are creating [continuous action in the present] 
    was creating, were creating [continuous action in the past] 
    will be creating [continuous action in the future]
    has been creating, have been creating [continuous action that happens before and up to the present] 
    had been creating [continuous action that happened before a specific time in the past] 
    will have been creating [continuous action that will happen before a specific time in the future]


Tenses TIP

To tell the difference between the progressive form and the perfect progressive form, compare their structures. The perfect progressive form requires an extra word.

    a form of be plus the –ing verb 
    a form of have plus a form of be plus the –ing verb

Past, Present, or Future Tense Quiz

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Verb Tenses

Q1: What are the 12 tenses?
A1: The 12 tenses in English are divided into three main time periods: past, present, and future. Each time period has four aspects: simple, continuous (progressive), perfect, and perfect continuous. Here they are:

Past Tenses:

  • Simple Past: I painted.
  • Past Continuous: I was painting.
  • Past Perfect: I had painted.
  • Past Perfect Continuous: I had been painting.

Present Tenses:

  • Simple Present: I paint.
  • Present Continuous: I am painting.
  • Present Perfect: I have painted.
  • Present Perfect Continuous: I have been painting.

Future Tenses:

  • Simple Future: I will paint.
  • Future Continuous: I will be painting.
  • Future Perfect: I will have painted.
  • Future Perfect Continuous: I will have been painting.
Q2: What are the 3 main types of tenses?
A2: The three main types of tenses are:

  • Past Tense: Indicates actions or events that have already happened.
  • Present Tense: Indicates actions or events that are currently happening or are true at the present moment.
  • Future Tense: Indicates actions or events that will happen in the future.
Q3: What are the tenses in grammar?
A3: In grammar, tenses are used to convey the timing of an action or state of being. The tenses are:

Simple Tenses: Express a single action.

Simple Present
Simple Past
Simple Future

Continuous (Progressive) Tenses: Express ongoing actions.

Present Continuous
Past Continuous
Future Continuous

Perfect Tenses: Express completed actions.

Present Perfect
Past Perfect
Future Perfect

Perfect Continuous Tenses: Express actions that were ongoing and then completed or are still ongoing.

Present Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect Continuous
Future Perfect Continuous

Q4: What is an example of tense?
A4: An example of a tense is the Simple Present Tense. 
For instance:

Sentence: "I paint every day."
Explanation: This sentence indicates a habitual action that occurs regularly in the present time.
Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎


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