All Twelve English Verb Tenses

Here is an overview of all 12 English verb tenses, their forms, and how to use them.

FORM: MEANING AND USE:
Present Simple ~Verb Form Present Simple ~Verb Use
Present Progressive ~Verb Form Present Progressive ~Verb Use
Present Perfect Progressive ~Verb Form Present Perfect Progressive ~Verb Use
Past Simple ~Verb Form Past Simple ~Verb Use
Past Progressive ~Verb Form Past Progressive ~Verb Use
Past Perfect ~Verb Form Past Perfect ~Verb Use
Past Perfect Progressive ~Verb Form Past Perfect Progressive ~Verb Use
Future Simple ~Verb Form Future Simple ~Verb Use
Future Progressive ~Verb Form Future Progressive ~Verb Use
Future Perfect~Verb Form Future Perfect ~Verb Use
Future Perfect Progressive ~Verb Form Future Perfect Progressive ~Verb Use

 

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Future Simple – Verb Meaning and Use

This post will show you how to use the Future Simple. To see how to form the Future Simple, click here.

We use Be Going To and the Present Continuous to talk about a planned event or future intention. A future time expression is usually stated or implied with the Present Continuous in order to avoid confusion.

Future with Be Going To

  • I am going to study hard tonight for the test.
  • He’s going to do the dishes after dinner.
  • Why isn’t she going to work next week?

Future with Present Continuous

  • I am studying hard tonight for the test.
  • He’s doing the dishes after dinner.
  • Why isn’t she working next week?

. Be Going To and the Present Continuous are usually similar, but not exactly the same. With Be Going To the speaker may not have an exact plan. With the Present Continuous, the plan is often more definite. Future with Be Going To

  • I’m going to leave my job (someday). I’m so unhappy
  • He’s going to buy a new car but he doesn’t know what kind yet.

Future with Present Continuous

  • I’m leaving my job (next week). I have been so unhappy here.
  • He’s buying a new car tomorrow! He has already chosen it.

. We use Be Going To for predictions, especially when there is evidence that something is just about to happen. Do not use the Present Continuous for predictions. Future predictions with Be Going To

  • Be careful! That glass is going to fall!!
  • That glass is falling. (incorrect)
  • It’s cloudy. It’s going to rain tonight.
  • It is raining tonight (incorrect)
  • They’re going to win the game tonight. They are the better team.
  • They are winning tonight (incorrect)

. Future with Will We use Will or Be Going To to make predictions or expectations. You can also use probably and other adverbs with Will and Be Going To to express certainty or uncertainty. Future with will

  • Electric cars will become popular in the next ten years.
  • Electric cars are going to become popular in the next ten years.
  • They will probably win the championship.
  • They are probably going to win the championship.
  • It will warm up
  • It’s going to warm up

With predictions, the meanings of Will and Be Going To are not exactly the same. Use Be Going To when you are more certain that an event will happen because there is evidence. Do not use Will in this situation. In this situation, Will needs a requirement to be met first.

  • She’s going to have a baby. (She is pregnant)
  • She will have a baby (If she gets married. She is not pregnant now).
  • They are going to win (They are the best team)
  • They will win tonight (if they can keep the ball).

. In statements with I, the first person, Will and Be Going To have different meanings. Will is often used to express a quick decision made at the time of speaking. Be Going To, however, shows that you have thought about something in advance. Do not use Be Going To for quick decisions. Will for quick decisions

  • A: “Does anyone want to help me?” B: “I will help. What can I do?”
  • A: “There’s someone at the door.” B: “I will answer
  • A: “What would you like to eat today?” B: “I’ll have the soup and salad.”

Be Going To for advanced plans

  • A: “What are your plans for the weekend?” B: “I’m going to help my sister move tomorrow.”
  • A: “Do we have any alcohol for the party?” B: “Not yet. I’m going to pick it up

. In statements with I, Will is often used to express a promise. Will for promises

  • I will do my homework.
  • I won’t tell anyone!
  • I will be on time.
  • I won’t quit school.

. We use the Present Simple for future events, mostly schedules, which are out of our control. Future with Present Simple

  • The plane leaves at 9:15 tomorrow.
  • School starts at 8am and finishes at 3pm.
  • The stores open at 9am everyday.
  • He arrives on the 4 o’clock bus next Saturday.
  • What time does the movie begin?

Past Perfect – Verb Form

This post will show you how to form the Past Perfect. To see how to use the Past Perfect, click here.

Affirmative Statements

Subject Had Past Participle
I had gone to school.
You had lived in Alaska.
He/She/It had watched TV.
We had walked to the store.
They/You (plural) had played tennis.
   

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Negative Statements

Subject Had + Not (hadn’t) Past participle
I hadn’t eaten dinner.
You hadn’t waited for us.
She/He/It hadn’t driven very fast.
We hadn’t thought about the consequences.
They/You (plural) hadn’t slept by 8:00 am.

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Yes/No Questions

Had Subject Past Participle
Had you been to Frankfurt before?
Had he cooked dinner?
Had they written their essay?
   

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Short Answers

Yes Subject Had No Subject Had + Not (hadn’t)
Yes, I had. No, I hadn’t.
Yes, he had. No, he hadn’t.
Yes, they had. No, they hadn’t.
   

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Information Questions

Wh- Word Had Subject Past Participle
Who had you voted for?
What had she arranged?
When had he quit smoking?
Where had it gone?
How had they broken the dishes?
Why had they changed jobs?
Who (subject) had left?
What (subject) had happened?

Past Progressive – Verb Meaning and Use

Past Cont GraphicThis post will show you how to use the Past Progressive (also called the Past Continuous). To see how to form the Past Progressive, click here.

We use the Past Progressive to talk about activities that were in progress (happening) at a specific time in the past. This may be an exact moment in the past or a longer period of time.

  • It wasn’t raining at lunch time, it was snowing.
  • You were acting weird last night.
  • I was studying in Brasilia in 2010.

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The Past Progressive expresses an ongoing past activity that may or may not be completed.

  • At 7:00 Rodrigo was making dinner in the kitchen. (He was in the middle of making dinner and we don’t know if he finished.)
  • The children were building a snowman while it was snowing. (They were in the middle of building a snowman and we don’t know if they finished.)

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Simultaneous Events

Sentences with two past time clauses describe the order in which two past events happened. When the verbs in both the time clause and the main clause are in the Past Progressive, the events were simultaneous (happening at the same time).

  • When you were studying, I was working.
  • They were playing hockey while we were shopping.

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Interrupted Events

When one verb is in the Past Simple and the other in the Past Progressive, it shows that one event interrupted the other. The event in the Past Progressive started first and was interrupted by the Past Simple event. When or while begins the time clause, which uses the Past Progressive.

  • While we were eating dinner, the phone rang.
  • She ran into Adam when she was walking to school.

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Background Information

The Past Progressive often appears at the beginning of a narrative to describe background activities. It can express several background activities happening at the same time as the main event. The main even is in the Past Simple.

  • It was raining hard outside and my roommate was taking a shower. At exactly 7:10, there was a huge clap of thunder. I jumped up as the house shook violently.
  • When we arrived at the stadium, the home team was winning,  all the fans were cheering, and my heart was racing with excitement.

 

 

 

Past Progressive – Verb Form

This post will show you how to form the Past Progressive (also called the Past Continuous). To see how to use the Past Progressive, click here.

Affirmative Statements

Subject Was/Were Base Verb + ing
I was working that night.
You were living in Sao Paulo
He/She/It was watching TV.
We were walking to the store.
They/You (plural) were playing tenis.
   

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Negative Statements

Subject Was/Were + Not (wasn’t/weren’t) Base Verb = ing
I wasn’t eating dinner.
You weren’t waiting for us.
She/He/It wasn’t driving very fast.
We weren’t thinking about the consequences.
They/You (plural) weren’t sleeping at 8:00 am.

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Yes/No Questions

Was/Were Subject Base Verb + ing
Were you living in Sidney?
Was he cooking dinner?
Were they writing their essay?
   

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Short Answers

Yes Subject Was No Subject Was/were + Not (wasn’t/weren’t)
Yes, I was. No, I wasn’t.
Yes, he was. No, he wasn’t.
Yes, they were. No, they weren’t.
   

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Information Questions

Wh- Word Was/Were Subject Base Verb + ing
Who were you talking to?
What was she watching?
When was he working there?
Where was it snowing?
How were they saving money?
Why were they changing jobs?
Who (subject) was leaving?
What (subject) was happening?

Present Progressive – Verb Forms

The Present Progressive (also called the Present Continuous) tense is formed with two words, the “be” verb and a base verb+ing. This is the same for all verbs, regular and irregular.

This post will show you how to form the Present Progressive. To see how to use the Present Progressive, click here.

Affirmative Statements

Subject Be Base Verb + ing
I am working today.
You are working today.
He/she/it is working today.
We are working today.
They/you (plural) are working today.
   

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Affirmative Contractions

I’m working today.
You’re working today.
He’s working today.
She’s working today.
It’s working today.
They’re working today.
You’re (plural) working today.

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Negative Statements

Subject Be Not Base Verb + ing
I am not working today.
You are not doing anything right now.
He/she/it is not washing the dishes.
We are not going to Seattle.
They/you (plural) are not playing hockey.

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Negative Contractions

I’m not sleeping yet.
You’re not (or) You aren’t cleaning the house.
He’s not (or) He isn’t singing loudly.
It’s not (or) It isn’t going to rain today.
We’re not (or) We aren’t driving today.
They’re not (or) They aren’t doing much.
You’re not (or) You aren’t brushing your teeth.

Yes/No Questions.

Be Subject Base Verb + ing
Am I eating chocolate?
Are you going to school today?
Is she sleeping?
Is it raining today?
Are we meeting at noon?
Are they coming to the party?
Are you (plural) waiting for me?

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Information Questions

Wh- Word Be Subject Base Verb + ing
How am I doing in this class?
Who are you dating these days?
What is he eating?
When are we leaving?
Where are they going to travel?
How are you making so much money?
Why am I working at this terrible job?
Wh- word (subject) Be Subject Base Verb + ing
Who is laughing?
What is happening?

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Short Answers

Yes Subject Be
Yes, I am.
Yes, you are.
Yes, he/she/it is.
Yes, we are.
Yes, they/you (plural) are.
No Subject + Be + Not
No, I’m not.
No, you’re not.
No, he/she/it isn’t.
No, we aren’t.
No, they/you (plural) aren’t.

*Do not use contractions in affirmative short answers.

✔ Yes, I am.

✘ Yes, I’m.

✔ Yes, we are.

✘ Yes, we’re.

 

Present Simple – Verb Forms

The Present Simple verb tense is very common in the English language, so it’s important to understand it well.  The form you see here applies to all verbs, except the irregular verb “to be”, which must be memorized.

This post will show you how to form the Present Simple. To see how to use the Present Simple, click here.

Don’t forget the “s” or “es” with he/she/it!!

Affirmative Statements

Subject Base Verb or Base Verb + -s/-es
I eat vegetables.
You eat breakfast at 8:00.
He/she/it eats very slowly.
We eat what we like.
They/you (plural) eat healthy food.

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Negative Statements

Subject Do not or Does not Base Verb
I do not (don’t) like spiders.
You do not (don’t) cook on the weekends.
He/she/it does not (doesn’t) live in Tokyo.
We do not (don’t) travel in the winter.
They/you (plural) do not (don’t) walk to school.

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Yes/No Questions

Do/Does Subject Base Verb
Do you play baseball?
Does he/she play the piano?
Do they/you (plural) play well?

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Information Questions

Wh- Word Do/Does Subject Base Verb
Who do you teach on Mondays?
What does he study at university?
When does she travel to Europe?
Where does the bus (it) go?
Why do they yell at their kids?
How do they make baby carrots?

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Short Answers.

NO Subject Do not or Does not
No, I do not (don’t).
No you do not (don’t).
No he/she/it does not (doesn’t)
No we do not (don’t).
No they/you (plural) do not (don’t).

 

Nouns as Adjectives

Usually adjectives modify nouns, but sometimes we use nouns to describe other nouns.  We can use a noun as an adjective, and like all adjectives this “noun adjective” comes before the noun it’s modifying, and it always takes a singular form.
  • A flower garden (a garden of flowers)
  • A window seat (a seat near the window)
  • A bike shop (a shop that sells bikes)
  • A ten-minute walk (a walk that takes ten minutes)
  • A house key (a key for your house)
  • A three-course meal (a meal that has three courses)

Because the “noun adjective” is acting as an adjective, it never takes a plural form.

  • Flower gardens (NOT flowers gardens)
  • Window seats (NOT windows seats)
  • Bike shops (NOT bikes shops)
  • A ten-minute walk (NOT a ten-minutes walk)
  • House keys (NOT houses keys)
  • Three course meals (NOT three courses meals)