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

 

Future Perfect Progressive ~Meaning and Use

future-perfect-cont GraphicThis post will show you how to use the Future Perfect Progressive, also called the Future Perfect Continuous. To see how to form the Future Perfect Progressive, click here.

The Future Perfect Progressive tense is not very common and it’s a bit difficult to make. However, at higher levels it is great to understand it, and maybe even use it sometimes too. It has a very precise meaning, which can be convenient.

We use the Future Perfect Progressive to talk about an ongoing action that takes place before a certain time in the future, or to emphasize a course of action. We often use the Future Perfect Progressive to round up to an even number. We like whole, round numbers and this tense allows us to use those numbers.

A future time expression is usually stated or implied, often with by. This can go at the beginning or end of the sentence with no difference in meaning.

  • By the year 2020, linguists will have been studying Indo-European languages for 200 years. (This is easier than saying that now, in 2015, linguists have been studying Indo-European languages for 195 years. It’s easier to just round up to 200)
  • We will have been driving for six hours by the time we get home.
  • By next March, I will have been teaching here for three years.
  • By the end of this month, we will have been living together for six months.

Future Perfect Progressive ~ Verb Form

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

 

Affirmative Statements

Subject + Will Have Already Been Verb + ing Future Time Expression
I’ll have already been waiting for an hour by the time they arrive.
You’ll have been working for hours when she starts.
She’ll/He’ll/It’ll have been traveling for three months
We’ll have already been studying for hours by dinner time.
They’ll/You’ll (plural) have already been driving by next June.

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Negative Statements

Future Time Expression Subject Still Will Not (won’t) Have Been Verb + ing
By the time I am 30, I   won’t have been working here for ten years.
When I get home, you   won’t have been studying for too long.
In five years’ time she/he/it still won’t have been doing anything with her life.
By 4:00 am, we still won’t have been sleeping.
By next June, they/you (plural) won’t have been traveling anymore.
     

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Wh- Questions

Wh- word Will Subject Have Been Verb + ing Future Time Expression
What will I have been doing by the time I turn 40?
Who will you have been waiting for?
Where will she/he/it have been living by next year?
Why will you have been sleeping all day?
How will we have been surviving for so long?

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Yes/No Questions

Will Subject Have Been Verb + ing Future Time Expression
Will I have been working for hours by the time she gets home?
Will you have been speaking English for a long time before you move to Melbourne?
Will she/he/it have been traveling for a long time when you come back?
Will we have been everything before we leave?
Will they/you (plural) have been exercising all day?

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Short Answers

Yes Subject Will Have   No Subject Will Not (Won’t) Have
Yes, I will have.   No, I won’t have.
Yes, you will have.   No, you won’t have.
Yes, she/he/it will have.   No, he won’t have.
Yes, we will have.   No, we won’t have.
Yes, they will have.   No, they’re not. won’t have.

 

Past Perfect Progressive – Verb Meaning and Use

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

The Past Perfect Progressive expresses the relationship in time between two past events, similar to the Past Perfect. However, the Past Perfect Progressive emphasizes that the first event was ongoing and continued up to or just before the second event.

  • Tomomi had been studying all night. (Past Perfect Progressive, 1st event)
  • She was exhausted at breakfast. (Past Simple, 2nd event)

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 For and since often show how long a situation lasted before the second past event.

  • Chris left his office at 6:00 pm. (Past Simple, 2nd event)
  • Hed been working since 8:00 am. (Past Perfect Progressive, 1st event)

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The Past Perfect Progressive is often used in sentences using past time clauses.

  • Michelle had been working for nine and a half hours (Past Perfect Progressive, 1st event)
  • by the time she left her office. (Past Simple, 2nd event)

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Certain common verbs can be used with the Past Perfect and the Past Perfect Progressive with little or no difference in meaning, but using the Progressive can show a more intense or emotional situation.

  • Mr. Garcia had lived there since 1982. (Past Perfect)
  • Mr. Garcia had been living there since 1982.  (Past Perfect Progressive)
  • I’d waited an hour (neutral)
  • I’d been waiting an hour. (I was so mad!)

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The Past Perfect can express a completed action that may or may not have happened recently. In contrast, the Past Perfect Progressive suggests that an action was continuing up to or ended just before a specific time in the past.

  • Janice had watered the garden before I arrived. (She may have watered it a few minutes or many hours before I arrived.)
  • Janice had been watering the garden before I arrived. (She watered the garden a few minutes before I arrived. The ground was still wet.)

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We do not use the Past Perfect Progressive to tell how many times an action is repeated.

  • I’d read it three times before. (Correct)
  • I’d been reading it three times before. (Incorrect)

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Both the Past Perfect and the Past Perfect Progressive are used to provide background information about earlier events. They are used to give reasons with because, express contrasts with although or even though, and are used to draw conclusions.

  • She looked very tired because she had been studying all night. (Reason)
  • She looked very tired because she had studied all night. (Reason)
  • She looked very tired although she had been sleeping for 12 hours. (Contrast)
  • She looked very tired although she had slept for 12 hours. (Contrast)
  • I realized that he had been criticizing my work. (Conclusion)
  • I realized that he had criticized my work. (Conclusion)

Past Perfect – Meaning and Use

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

The Past Perfect expresses the relationship in time between two past events. It shows that one action or state happened before another action or state in the past. The Past Perfect expresses the first event and the Past Simple often expresses the second, or later, event.

  • I had just completed the exam. (Past perfect, 1st event)
  • I felt so relieved. (Past Simple, 2nd event)

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The past time can be recent or distant.

  • Michael called me this morning, but I wasn’t there; I had already left.  (Recent time)
  • Michael wrote me last year, but I never got the letter; I had moved away.

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The Past Perfect is often used in sentences containing past time clauses. The Past Perfect is used to indicate the first event, and the Past Simple is used for the second event. Before, by the time, when, until, and after introduce the time clause.

Past Perfect (1st Event)                                    Past Simple (2nd Event)

The thief had escaped                                    before I called the police.

We had calmed down                                    by the time the police came.

He had been upstairs                                    when we came home.

We hadn’t noticed                                                until we heard the footsteps.

After I had called the police,                         we realized the thief was gone.

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In sentences with before, after, by the time, and until, the Past Perfect is sometimes replaced by the Past Simple with no difference in meaning.

  • I had gone inside before I took off my coat. = I went inside before I took off my coat.
  • After I had gone inside, I took off my coat. = After I went inside, I took off my coat.

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The Past Perfect is often used with the same adverbs and prepositions as the Present Perfect: already, yet, still, ever, never, for, since, and just.

  •  By  lunch time, we had  already discussed the new budget and written a new report.
  • I had lived in Texas for 12 years before I moved to California.
  • Had she ever eaten a hot dog before she came to the United States? No, she’d never had one!!

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By + a time can be used with the Past Perfect to express the later time in the sentence.

  • We had finished by then.
  • By noon, we had hiked two miles.

Past Simple and Used To – Verb Form

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

PAST SIMPLE

Affirmative Statements

Subject Base Verb + ED or Irregular Form
I worked hard.
You went to school in the morning.
She/he/it rained yesterday.
We left early.
They/you (plural) sang beautifully.

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Negative Statements

Subject Did Not (didn’t) Base Verb
I didn’t go yesterday.
You didn’t see me after class.
She/He/It didn’t rain last week.
We didn’t run into trouble.
They/You (plural) didn’t finish your homework.

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Yes/No Questions

Did Subject Base Verb
Did I lose my keys?
Did you make that?
Did she/he/it go to work?
Did we drive too far?
Did they/you (plural) have a good time?

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Short Answers

Yes Subject Did No Subject Did Not (didn’t)
Yes, I did. No, I didn’t.
Yes, you did. No, you didn’t.
Yes, she/he/it did. No, she/he/it didn’t.
Yes, we did. No, we didn’t.
Yes, they/you did. No, they/you didn’t.

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USED TO

Affirmative Statements

Subject Used To Base Verb
I used to get up early.
You used to drink coffee.
She/He/It used to be hers.
We used to dance every weekend.
They/You (plural) used to play in the park.

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Negative Statements

Subject Did Not (didn’t) Use To Base Verb
I didn’t use to like him.
You didn’t use to smoke cigarettes.
She/he/it didn’t use to walk to school.
We didn’t use to travel so often.
They/you (plural) didn’t use to go to school.

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Yes/No Questions

Did Subject Use To Base Verb
Did I use to be so selfish?
Did you use to live in Argentina?
Did she/he/it used to get start later?
Did we use to play on Saturdays or Sundays?
Did they/you use to eat lots of junk food?

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Short Answers

Yes Subject Did No Subject Did Not (didn’t)
Yes, I did. No, I didn’t.
Yes, you did. No, you didn’t
Yes, she/he/it did. No, she/he/it didn’t
Yes, we did. No, we didn’t
Yes, they/you did No, they/you didn’t

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Information Questions

Wh- Word Did Subject Use To Base Verb
Why did I use to love him?
When did you use to live in Miami?
Where did they use to eat out?
Wh- Word Used To Base Verb
Who used to run marathons?
What used to be over there?
     
  • Do not use did in information questions when who or what is the subject. Use used to with these questions.

Past Simple and Used To – Verb Meaning and Use

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

PAST SIMPLE

We use the Past Simple to talk about a state or action that started and finished in the past. We use time expressions to describe the time period.

  • She lived in Tokyo in 2010.
  • We went to school yesterday.
  • They played hockey on Saturday.
  • Winter was cold last year.

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The actions or states can happen in the recent past (a short time ago), or the distant past (a long time ago).

Recent Past                                                                        Distant Past

He arrived ten minutes ago.                                     They moved to Dubai in 2001.

She felt tired yesterday.                                              He was very sick last year.

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The actions or states can last for a short or long period of time.

Short Period of Time                                                       Long Period of Time

The rain lasted for five minutes.                                The rain lasted for days.

I worked there for two weeks.                                    I worked there for 12 years.

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The actions or states can happen once, or repeatedly.

Happened Once                                                            Happened Repeatedly

He moved to Seoul in 2008.                                  He always walked to work.

She arrived late yesterday.                                    She always arrived late.

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USED TO

used-toUsed to suggests that a habit or situation was true in the past, but is not true now. We use used to for repeated or habitual actions or states that started and finished in the past. Do not use it for actions or states that happened only once. Adverbs of frequency and other time expressions with used to emphasize the repeated actions or states.

  • He used to smoke, but he quit last year.
  • We often used to visit my grandparents before they passed away.
  • She used to live in Sidney before she moved to Prague.

You can use the Simple Present with time expressions to show how a present situation is different from the past.

  • I used to watch TV after school.  Now I don’t have time for that.
  • People used to get their new from newspapers or the radio. These days most people get their news from the internet.

Vlastimil ~Czech Republic

CzechFlag
Na angličtinu u Kameyo jsem chodil půl roku, dva dny v týdnu. Vždy byla připravená, veselá, usměvavá. Podle nálady jsme si povídali anebo probírali gramatiku. Jakožto skoro úplný začátečník, ale můžu říci, že to bylo bez problémů, domluva probíhala vždy hladce. Přizpůsobila se mým schopnostem a dovednostem. Otevřeně debatuje o čemkoliv, takže jsem získal informace z různých oblastí života tady v Kanadě.
Je flexibilní, domluvit nebo upravit schůzky není nikdy problém. Pořádá víkendové akce, kde je možnost se setkat s jinými lidmi a popovídat si.
Hodnotit ji můžu jedině kladně a doporučuji!

Insure vs Ensure vs Assure

Insure and ensure are often interchangeable, but occasionally there is a small difference in meaning.  I have provided examples to ensure your understanding.

 

Insure, verb:  ɪnˈʃʊər, -ˈʃɜr

Insure can be done to a person, place, or thing, but often it is reserved for limiting financial liability, usually by obtaining an insurance policy. James wondered if the caterers were insured against loss.

You can remember that we take out insurance to protect our income if we become unemployed, disabled, or injured in an accident. Both insure and income begin with -in. –

  • To buy insurance for something (such as property or health): We insured our house against fire and flood.  He insured his boat.
  • To provide insurance for something (such as property or heath): This policy will insure your car against theft. I found a company that will insure my car for less than I’ve been paying.
  • To guarantee or protect against loss or harm: We hope that careful planning will insure success. Despite all of our planning, we can’t insure against bad weather.

Ensure, verb: ɛnˈʃʊər

Ensure is something you do to guarantee an event or condition. To ensure there’d be enough food, Sofia ordered twice as much as last year.

You can remember that guarantee has those two e’s on the end to help you remember that to ensure (with an e) is to guarantee something.

  • To secure, guarantee or promise: This ticket will ensure you a seat on the train. The government has ensured the safety of the refugees.
  • To make sure or certain: We are doing all we can to ensure the success of our business.
  • To make secure or safe:  Endangered animals are protected to ensure their survival.

Assure, verb: əˈʃʊər, əˈʃɜr

Assure is something you do to a person, a group of people, or an animal to remove doubt or anxiety. They assured us they’d come to the party early.

You can remember that assure can only be used with things that are alive (and both assure and alive start with a). Only things that are alive can feel doubt or anxiety, so only they can be assured.

  • To declare or state with confidence: I assure you that I will drive safely.  She assured us that everything would be all right.
  • To cause to know surely: He looked back to assure himself that no one was following him.
  • To promise or guarantee: He was assured a job in the spring. They assured us they would come.

Sources: Grammar Girl, Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster

Present Perfect Progressive – Verb Meaning and Use

present-perfect-cont GraphcThis post will show you how to use the Present Perfect Progressive. To see how to form the Present Perfect Progressive, click here.

The Present Perfect Progressive, also called the Present Perfect Continuous, is used with continuing activities. We often use since and for with this verb tense.

  • My English has been improving lately.
  • have been living in Vancouver for six months.
  • They have been studying English since January.
  • It has been raining since Monday.
  • She has not (hasn’tbeen exercising since she hurt her back.
  • How long have you been going to the new Conversation Club for?
  • Who have you been talking to for hours?

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The Present Perfect Progressive is also used for activities that were in progress, but have just ended.

  • It’s finally done! I’ve been writing this essay all month!
  • He has been working all day so he is very tired.
  • You have been sleeping for ten hours!

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We also use the Present Perfect Progressive to make excuses with an apology.

  • I’m sorry I haven’t called you, I haven’t been feeling well lately.
  • I’m sorry I didn’t go grocery shopping, I have been working too much these days.

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Some common verbs can be used in the Present Perfect or the Present Perfect Progressive with no difference in meaning. Some of these verbs are live, teach, wear, work, study, stay, and feel.

  • Mr. Rodriguez has lived here since 2010.
  • Mr. Rodriguez has been living here for three years.
  • He has taught Spanish for a long time.
  • He has been teaching Spanish for a long time.
  • He has worn the same jacket for years.
  • He has been wearing the same jacket for years.

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Sometimes, using the Progressive tense can show a more intense feeling.

  • I’ve waited for an hour.
  • I’ve been waiting for an hour. (I am very annoyed)
  •  I’ve thought about this for days.
  • I’ve been thinking about this for days. (I can’t stop thinking about it)

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While the Present Perfect can express a completed activity that may or may not have been recent, the Present Perfect Progressive shows that an activity is continuing up to the present time, or was very recently completed.

  • I’ve read a book about psychology. (I finished it at some indefinite time in the past)
  • I’ve been reading a book about psychology. (I’m not finished. Or I’ve just finished it)

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Usually, we do not use the Present Perfect Continuous when we say how many times an activity has been repeated.

✔ I’ve watered the garden three times.

✘ I’ve been watering the garden three times.