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

 

Advertisements

Future Simple – Verb Form

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

The FOUR future forms are: Be Going To, Present Progressive (also called the Present Continuous), Will, and the Present Simple.

THE FUTURE WITH BE GOING TO

.

Affirmative Statements

Subject Be Going To Base Verb
I am going to help later.
You are going to work tomorrow.
She/He/It is going to rain again.
We are going to have so much fun!
They/You (plural) are going to send her a package.
     

Negative Statements

Subject Be Not Going To Base Verb
I am not going to finish in time.
You are not going to go away this weekend.
She/He/It is not going to see the doctor.
We are not going to cook dinner
They/You (plural) are not going to buy a new car.

Yes/No Questions

Be Subject Going To Base Verb
Am I going to be okay?
Are you going to clean the house?
Is she/he/it going to study next semester?
Are we going to stick to the plan?
Are they/you (plural) going to live in New Zealand?

Short Answers

Yes Subject Be No Subject + Be + Not
Yes, I am. No, I’m not.
Yes, he is. No, he’s not.
Yes, they are. No, they’re not.

Information Questions

WH- Word Be Subject Going To Base Verb
Who are you going to call later?
What is she going to do tomorrow?
When are they going to study at the library?
Who (subject) is going to win the election?
What (subject) is going to happen next?

.

THE FUTURE WITH THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS/PROGRESSIVE

Affirmative Statements

Subject +Be Verb + ing
I’m helping later.
You ‘re moving next week.
She’s/He’s/It’s coming tomorrow.
We’re cooking dinner tonight.
They’re/You’re changing schools next month.

Negative Statements

Subject + Be Not Verb + ing
I’m not leaving yet.
You’re not taking an exam tomorrow.
She’s/He’s/It’s not playing soccer next Saturday.
We’re not staying with relatives.
They’re/You’re not graduating this semester.

Yes/No Questions

Be Subject Verb + ing
Am I going to work tomorrow?
Are you moving to Japan?
Is she/he/it going to Europe next summer?
Are we doing anything for Valentine’s Day?
Are they/you (plural) coming to the party this weekend?

Short Answers

Yes Subject Be No Subject + Be + Not
Yes, I am. No, I’m not.
Yes, he is. No, he’s not.
Yes, they are. No, they’re not.

Information Questions

WH- Word Be Subject Verb + ing
Who are you calling later?
What is she doing tomorrow?
When are they studying at the library?
Who (subject) is going to head office?
What (subject) is happening next?

.

THE FUTURE WITH WILL + BASE VERB

Affirmative Statements

Subject + Will Adverb Base Verb
I’ll study much harder, I promise.
You’ll be cold without a jacket.
She’ll/He’ll/It’ll most likely have a good time at the party.
We’ll hopefully see piranhas in the Amazon.
They’ll/You’ll (plural) probably do their homework in the morning.

Negative Statements

Subject Adverb Will + Not (won’t) Base Verb
I probably won’t exercise tomorrow.
You won’t be happy about this.
She/He/It won’t spend the summer in Hollywood.
We most likely won’t live on Mars in the future.
They/You (plural) probably won’t like the weather in Wisconsin.
   

Yes/No Questions

Will Subject Base Verb
Will I see you next week?
Will you do me a favor?
Will she/he/it finish this soon?
Will we work full-time?
Will they/you (plural) be on time for class tomorrow?

Short Answers

Yes Subject Will No Subject + Will + Not
Yes, I will. No, I won’t.
Yes, he will. No, he won’t.
Yes, they will. No, they won’t.

Information Questions

WH- Word Will Subject Base Verb
Who will you call later?
What will she do tomorrow?
When will they study at the library?
Who (subject) will go to head office?
What (subject) will happen next?

.

FURURE WITH PRESENT SIMPLE

Affirmative Statements

Subject Present Simple
I leave on a 6:00 am flight.
You arrive tomorrow night.
She/He/It starts next fall.
We open the store at 9:00 am.
They/You (plural) close at 5:00 pm.

Negative Statements

Subject Do Not (don’t), Does Not (doesn’t) Present Simple
I don’t leave on a 6:00 am flight.
You don’t arrive tomorrow night.
She/He/It doesn’t start next fall.
We don’t open at 9:00 am.
They don’t close at 5:00 pm.

Yes/No Questions

Do/Does Subject Present Simple
Do I work early tomorrow?
Do you arrive next week?
Does she/he/it start on time?
Do we leave after breakfast?
Do they/you (plural) go to the airport this Sunday?

.

Information Questions

WH- Word Do/Does Subject Base Verb
Who do I call if I have a problem?
What does she do to register?
When do they arrive in Kenya?
Who (subject)   goes to head office tomorrow?
What (subject)   happens next?

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?

Present Simple – Verb Meaning and Use

Present.simple.graphicThe Present Simple (also called the Simple Present) verb tense is very common in the English language, so it’s important to understand it well.  

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

1. Present Simple is used to talk about activities that happen repeatedly and things that we do regularly, such as habits and routines. Adverbs of frequency are often used with the Present Simple.

  • I play golf every Monday.
  • They often travel to China.
  • She gets up at 8:00 every day.
  • I don’t walk to school.
  • She doesn’t love him.
  • Do you smoke?
  • How often do you study?

2. Secondly, we use the Present Simple to talk about factual information, such as general truths, scientific facts, or definitions.

  • My teacher always arrives early.
  • Water boils at 100 celsius.
  • Doctors study for many years.
  • The sky isn’t green.
  • The word smart means “intelligent”.

3. We also use the Present Simple with stative verbs (non-action verbs) to talk about states or conditions, such as physical descriptions, feelings, relationships, knowledge, beliefs or possession.

  • She is short and has long hair.
  • They like strawberries.
  • We want a new car.
  • promise I will help you.
  • You look fantastic.
  • They belong to the yacht club.
  • don’t know the answer.

4. We use the Present Simple to describe situations that are more or less permanent. (If a situation is new or temporary, use the Present Continuous)

  • They work at a bank.
  • travel every summer.
  • She has two daughters.
  • Where do you live?
  • He is married.
  • I‘m not American, I‘m Canadian.

5. The Present Simple is also used with the Zero conditional.

6. We use the Present Simple to talk about what happens in books, movies, and plays.

  • A young woman travels through Europe, where she meets different people, and finally falls in love.
  • In this book, the hero saves the princess and marries her.
  • The main character is very pretty and works at a café.

7. Future schedules, timetables, and fixed plans are expressed with the Present Simple, usually when they are set by an organization, not by us.

  • School begins at 9:00 and ends at 3:00.
  • The plane doesn’t arrive at 3:00, it arrives at 3:30.
  • When does the movie start?
  • The bus leaves every 15 minutes.

8. And lastly, we also use it to talk about the future  after words such as “when”, “until”, “before”, “after”, and “as soon as”.

  • He will call you when he has time. (Not ‘will have’)
  • I won’t go out until it stops raining.
  • I’ll give you the book before you go.
  • I’m going to make dinner after I watch the news.
  • She’ll come as soon as her babysitter arrives.

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.

.

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.

.

Yes/No Questions

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

.

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?

.

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).

 

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency tell us how often something happens, and they can be either definite or indefinite.  Because we are talking about repeated or habitual activities, adverbs of frequency are usually only used with the Present Simple tense.

Some examples of definite adverbs of frequency:

  • Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
  • Every minute, once an hour, quarterly.
  • Once, twice, three times, a million times.

Definite adverbs of frequency usually go at the end of the sentence, like most definite time expressions.

  • Most businesses submit their taxes quarterly.
  • He checks his watch every minute.
  • The bell rings every hour.

We can also put the adverb at the beginning of the sentence for strong emphasis:

  • Every night, we stay up late to study.
  • Twice a year, she goes to Chile.
  • Every year, thousands of people are misdiagnosed.

.

Some examples of indefinite adverbs of frequency, and a general idea of how often the action takes place:

  • 100% always, constantly, continuously, habitually
  • 90% usually, normally, mostly, regularly
  • 75% frequently, generally, repeatedly
  • 60% often
  • 50% sometimes
  • 40% occasionally, sporadically
  • 20% rarely, seldom, infrequently
  • 0% never

Adverbs of indefinite frequency usually go in the middle of the sentence before the main verb, except the verb “to be.

  • We always walk to school.
  • She usually drinks coffee in the morning.
  • They generally study at the library.
  • I am often on time.
  • She sometimes plays chess.
  • He occasionally skips school.
  • They are seldom wrong.

.

If there is an auxiliary verb and a main verb, the adverb goes between them:

  • I can usually remember.
  • He doesn’t often cry.

Except with “have to”, the adverb goes before the auxiliary:

  • We usually have to wake up early.
  • He always has to drive his kids to school.

.

Sometimes, for emphasis, we can put the adverb at the beginning of the sentence. (see what I did there?)

  • Usually we eat dinner at 6:00.
  • Occasionally I walk around the seawall.

Or at the end:

  • We do that too, usually.
  •  They go to church regularly.

.

“Sometimes” can go at the beginning, middle, or end:

✔ Sometimes they eat healthy.

✔ They sometimes eat healthy.

✔ They eat healthy sometimes.

.

“Always” can NOT go at the beginning or the end of the sentence, only in the middle:

✔ She always works hard.

✘ Always she works hard.

✘ She works hard always.

.

For questions and negative statements, the adverb goes before the main verb, except the verb “to be“.

  • Why do they always complain?
  • Who is she constantly talking to on the phone?
  • They aren’t usually nice.
  • I don’t often eat fast food.
  • I‘m not normally this irritable.

Negative adverbs like “never”, “seldom”, and “rarely” do not go at the end of the sentences. They can go at the beginning of the sentence to add a strong emphasis, but then the rest of the sentence must take a question form, even though it is a statement.

  • Never have I seen such a beautiful woman!!
  • Seldom does he work so late.
  • Rarely do I get straight A’s.

.

Negative adverbs, such as seldom, rarely, and never aren’t usually used in the negative or question form.

✘ I don’t seldom get to school on time.

✔ I seldom get to school on time.

✔ I don’t usually get to school on time.

Do you rarely eat sushi?

✔ Do you often eat sushi?

.

Occasionally, we use adverbs of frequency with the Present Progressive to complain about something:

  • He is always smoking.
  • They are constantly playing loud music.
  • She is forever talking on the phone.

Stative Verbs

Stative, or non action verbs do not express action.  They express a state or condition, and usually only occur in the Present Simple.  When they do occur in the Present Progressive, there is often a difference in meaning.

Some common stative verbs are:

Attitudes and Emotions

  • love, like, hate, dislike, fear
  • want, need, prefer, appreciate
  • doubt, wish, care, mind, promise, deny, concern

Belief and Knowledge

  • believe, know, think, feel (= opinion), hope, doubt, imagine
  • mean, understand, realize, suppose, guess
  • remember, forget, agree, disagree

Descriptions and measurements

  • be, appear, look (= seem), look like, seem, resemble
  • sound, sound like
  • weigh (have weight), measure (have length), cost
  • fit, contain

Possession and Relationships

  • have, own, possess
  • owe, belong, depend on
  • include, contain, consist of

Senses

  • see, hear, smell, taste, feel
  • ache, hurt, burn, itch, sting

✔ He owes me money.      ✘ He’s owing me money.

✔ They seem happy.         ✘ They are seeming happy.

✔ I forget his name.           ✘ I’m forgetting his name.

✔ She knows the answer.  ✘ She is knowing the answer.

.

Some verbs can be both stative and active, with a difference in meaning.

Present Simple (stative)                                                     Present Progressive (active)

I think this is delicious (belief)                 We’re thinking about moving (mental activity)

It weighs a lot (measurement)                   I’m weighing it on the scale (physical activity)

She has six cats (possession)                                        She’s having a bad time (experience)

He has a nice house (possession)                        He’s having lunch with Jennifer (eating)

This soup tastes great (it has a certain flavour)       The chef is tasting the soup (action)

I smell something gross (it has a certain smell)           I’m smelling each flower (action)

I see him (he’s over there)                                    I’m seeing him (I’m dating / meeting him)

.

The “be” verb is usually stative, but when it’s used in the continuous it suggests temporary, or atypical behaviour.

Present Simple (stative)                                                     Present Progressive (active)

My kids are good. (they’re always good)  My kids are being good! (usually they are bad)

You are stupid (it’s part of your personality)                      You are being stupid (only now)

He wears nice clothes (all the time)                       He’s wearing nice clothes (only today)

Zero Conditional: Certainty

We use the Zero Conditional to express general truths and facts. We are thinking about a result that is always true for this condition, and an absolute certainty. We are not thinking about the future, past, or present, but only of a simple fact.

The important thing about the zero conditional is that the condition always has the same result.

We use the Present Simple tense to talk about the condition, and the Present Simple tense to talk about the result.

IF Condition Result
Present simple Present simple
If you don’t love, you can’t live.
If I sleep too late, I miss my morning class.
If people don’t eat, they get hungry.
If you drink too much, do you get a hangover?

.

Result IF Condition
present simple present simple
You can’t live if you don’t love.
My boss gets angry if I am late for work.
I am disappointed  if you don’t pass your exams.
Do you go to the doctor if you are sick?
  • We can use “when” instead of “if”, for example: “When he comes to town, we go for dinner.”
  • We can use “unless” which means “if … not”, for example: “You will be unhappy unless you break up with her” = “You will be unhappy if you do not break up with her.”