English Tenses – English Grammar

What is Tense? To know Tense, we first need to know what verb is.

Verb, we know is defined as a doing word or action word.

Now, when an action is done, we also need to know the time of the action.


Tense is the form of a verb which talks about the time an action (verb) has taken place.


Tenses can be categorized into three main parts :

  • Present Tense
  • Past Tense
  • Future Tense


  • Present Tense : Things that actually happens when the words are spoken or written.

Eg. The gardener waters the plants.

A farmer works in the field.

He comes to my house in the evening.


  • Past Tense : Things that actually happened before the words were spoken or written.

Eg. The gardener watered the plants.

A farmer workedin the field.

He came to my house in the evening.


  • Future Tense : Things that will actually happen after the words are spoken or written.

Eg. The gardener will water the plants.

A farmer will work in the field.

He will come to my house in the evening.


Each of these tenses are farther sub-categorized into four different parts :

  • Simple / Indefinite
  • Continuous
  • Perfect
  • Perfect Continuous


Now we shall discuss each of these tenses in details :




  • The Simple Present Tense : This tense is used to express
  • Action that is actually taking place NOW.

Eg. Here comes my brother.

There goes the train.

How heavy it rains!

[ In none of the above cases we shall say,

Here is my brother coming.

(OR) There the train is going.

(OR)How heavy it is raining! ]


  • A habitual( Now what is a habitual action? )

This denotes to an action which we are habituated in doing – brushing our teethin the morningor going for a brisk walk in the evening.

Eg. I brush my teeth in the morning.

Mr. Sharma goes for a brisk walk in the evening.


In both the above examples, we see brushing teeth and going for a brisk evening walk are habitual actions.


  • Universal Truths

It is a truth that never change regardless of time and space.

Suppose two and two is four.

The sum total of two and two is four is a fact that is always true and can never change.

Similarly, The Earth rotates round the sun.

After winter comes the spring season.

These are all examples of Universal Truth.


  • A situation or a fact that will never change.

Eg. My house faces the East.

Now the fact that my house faces the East can never change. I can renovate my house a thousand times but I can never change its position.

Again, Kolkata stands on River Hooghly.

(OR) The Taj Mahal is in Agra.

In both the above instances we see the facts or situations are unchangeable.

Like, Kolkata can not be shifted from the banks of River  Hooghly and placed on the banks of River Yamuna.

Similarly, The Taj Mahal can not be removed from Agra and placed in Jaipur.


  • An action that will take place in the future, but it’s futurity is already decided.

Eg. The school reopens after Summer Vacation on 16thJune.

Here, though the date for the reopening of school is in the future but the decision has been taken when the words are spoken or written. Hence, the verb used is in simple present tense.

N.B. This sentence would not have been incorrect if the verb is used in future tense.

The school will reopen after Summer Vacation on 16th June.


  • The Present Continuous Tense :
  • This tense expresses an action going on at the time of speaking or writing.

Eg. The children are playing in the park.

The gardener is pruning the weeds.


  • This tense also marks an action which will happen in the future.

Eg. I am leaving for Patna the next week.

My sister is getting married the next year.



  • The Present Perfect Tense :

  • The Present Perfect Tense is used to express an action which has just completed.

Eg.The students have completed their assignment.

I havejust drank a glass of milkshake.


  • Present Perfect Tense also expresses a past action the result of which continues in the present.

Eg. I have knownher for the past ten years.

They have lived in this city for six years.


In the 1st example pronoun ‘I’ knows pronoun ‘her’ for ten years. That means ‘I‘ first came to know ‘her’ten years back and after a span of ten years‘I’ obviously still know her.

In the 2nd example pronoun ‘they’ have lived in this city for six years. That means, ‘they’ first came to this city six years ago and since then have been living here. And now it has been five years and still they are living in this city.


  • The Present Perfect Continuous Tense :

  • An action that began in the past and is continuing up to the present time, is expressed by The Present Perfect Continuous Tense.

Eg. Stella has been cooking since morning.

Nitin and Suresh have been working on this project for the last three years.


N.B.We must remember – In this tense we use the word Since to indicate a certain point of time( since morning, since Tuesday, since January, since 2017, since 6 o’clock,and so on ).

And the word For is used to indicate a period of time( for two hours, for five days, for three months, for six years and so on ).





  • The Simple Past Tense : This tense helps us to express,

  • An action that was done or took place in the past time.

Simple Past Tense is usually associated with adverb phrases of time, like – yesterday, previous week, month, year and such.

Eg. She came to my house yesterday.

He joined the army last year.

Here, yesterday and last year are adverb phrases of time to indicate a past time.

  • This tense is also used to express a habitual action in the past.

Eg. Rajput women burnt themselves alive on being defeated by their enemies.


  • An action actually going on at the time stated.

Eg. While mother cooked I laid the table.

Here we can see two actions taking place at the same time :

Mother cooked. I laid the table.

Now if a question is asked –When did you lay the table? I shall answer –I laid the table while mother cooked.

So which action is actually going on?

I laid the table.

And what is the time stated?

Mother cooked.

Hence we see, the action of laying the table was going on at the time when mother was cooking.

N.B.While mother was cooking I was laying the table (is also correct).



  • The Past Continuous Tense : An action was still going on at the past time stated.

Again let us take two different actions :

Eg.She called on me. I was painting.

Let us see how these two actions are related to each other.

The first action – She called on me took place when the second action I was painting was in progress.

Hence, the sentence will be like,

When she called on me, I was painting.


  • The Past Perfect Tense : This tense denotes an action which had been completed at some point in the past before another action was commenced.

Eg. The train had leftbeforethey reached the station.

The above example shows the leaving of the train took place  first and then they reached the station.

N.B.‘Had’ is always used with the 1st action.



  • The Past Perfect Continuous Tense : This tense is used to show an action that had continued for a certain time.

Again let us take two actions :

She had been jogging for an hour. He joined her.

This shows the action of jogging had continued for a certain time before he joined her.






  • The Simple Future Tense : This tense expresses an action that will take place or is about to take place.

 Eg. We shall visit an orphanage tomorrow.


  • The Future Continuous Tense : This tense is used to express an action that will go on at some point in future time.

Eg.You will be travelling in train the next Tuesday.


  • The Future Perfect : This tense refers to an action that will be completed at some point of time in the future.

Eg. You will have decorated the room before the guests arrive.

So, what do we see,

the decorating of the room will be completed before the guests arrive.

Hence, both the actions will take place in the future, but 1st action will get over before the 2nd action commences.


  • The Future Perfect Continuous Tense : This tense denotes an action whether finished or unfinished will continue for some point of time.

Eg.They will have been playing for two hours when you come here.








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