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Tenses

Introduction to Tenses


The word ‘tense’ is derived from the Latin word ‘tempus’. It indicates the time of the occurrence of an action or an event. In any sentence, an action or a state of being is denoted by the verb. Hence, tenses are directly related to verbs.

The different states of time are: Past, Present and Future. Very simply speaking, past is what happened yesterday; present is what happens today; and future is what will happen tomorrow.

Note how at different moments the same event (the test on English tenses) can be situated in the future (when the teacher informs the students about the test), the present (when the test is being conducted) and the past (when the students are discussing the test).


The word ‘tense’ is derived from the Latin word ‘tempus’. It indicates the time of the occurrence of an action or an event. In any sentence, an action or a state of being is denoted by the verb. Hence, tenses are directly related to verbs.

The different states of time are: Past, Present and Future. Very simply speaking, past is what happened yesterday; present is what happens today; and future is what will happen tomorrow.

Note how at different moments the same event (the test on English tenses) can be situated in the future (when the teacher informs the students about the test), the present (when the test is being conducted) and the past (when the students are discussing the test).


In English grammar, past, present and future have been further divided as follows:

PRESENT

PAST

FUTURE

Simple

Simple

Simple

Continuous/Progressive

Continuous/Progressive

Continuous/Progressive

Perfect Simple

Perfect Simple

Perfect Simple

Perfect Continuous/Perfect Progressive

Perfect Continuous/Perfect Progressive

Perfect Continuous/Perfect Progressive

As mentioned before, tenses are directly related to verbs. In each of the above tabulated tense forms, a verb is used in its base form, past form, present participle form or past participle form. The following table lists the different forms of a verb according to the twelve tenses. The verb ‘do’ has been used for this purpose.

 

PRESENT

PAST

FUTURE

Simple

do / does

(Base form)

did

(Past form)

will do

(Base form)

Continuous/

Progressive

am doing / is doing / are doing

(Present participle)

was doing / were doing

(Present participle)

will be doing

(Present participle)

Perfect Simple

have done / has done

(Past participle)

had done

(Past participle)

will have …

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