How many Tenses are there in English? It sounds like a simple question, but, unfortunately, it isn’t.
This is because different people – including both students and TEFL teachers – have different definitions of what a tense actually is and there is no single, accepted one.
However, in English there are 3 general definitions of what a tense is all about:
Tenses & Time
The Past Tense is used – as you can probably guess – to talk about the past.
There are several different verb forms we can use to talk about the past. This article briefly explains them and links to fuller articles on each.
The Past Simple is used most often to tell a simple story or relate and incident. In regular verbs it’s made by…
We use Perfect Tenses to talk about a finished action, often in relation to another action.
This action can occur at any time in the past, present or future.
3 Perfect Tenses
There are three perfect tenses in English:
This is used to talk about a completed action in the past. It’s usually used alongside another past tense:
After we had finished the meeting we…
We use the Continuous Verb Forms to talk about things which are happening over a period of time. With continuous forms we highlight the duration of an event.
Note that sometimes we use the word Progressive instead of Continuous.
Continuous forms usually talk about things which are happening for a while only – they will stop sometime.
I am living in London right now but I don’t know where I…
This article introduces at the 3 main verb forms a verb can take: the infinitive, the present participle and the past form.
The Infinitive is the base form of a verb. These are infinitives:
love, eat, walk, be
In English, the infinitive is nearly always the same as the present tense. The only exception is the verb be:
I love, I eat, I walk, I am…
We use the Present Continuous (also called Present Progressive) in three ways in English:
1. to talk about a situation that is happening right now as we speak.
What are you doing?
I am reading 50 Shades of Gray!
Why is he in bed?
He is not feeling well today.
Can you be quiet, please. I am trying to watch television.
2. to talk about things happening around now…
The past simple verb form is used to talk about events in the past; it’s often used to tell a story.
He walked into the room and looked around. There was a knock on the door. He opened it and saw…
I woke up. I got out of bed. I dragged a comb across my head…
In general we use it to talk about an event which started…
Note: descriptions of verb forms and tenses vary. Here we present a simple overview of the tenses and forms of English which is useful for the classroom.
In grammar a tense (from the Latin tempus) is a form of a verb used to indicate roughly the time when the action described by the verb takes place.
In English there are 3 basic tenses: Past, Present and Future. (However, often…