English Grammar Tenses Complete With Examples

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Many ESL students get confused on English grammar tenses as their native languages have different structure. Moreover, the teachers can't explain it clearly. Tenses is a rule how to arrange sentences. It is so simple. There are three elements to remember: time, verbs, and structure.

There are 14 tenses in English, some expert said only 12. Those types are formed based on time. So, the first time what you need to understand is about time when to use simple present, past tense, perfect tense, future tense, etc. You don't need to master right now, just understand it is enough.

Then the structure. It's so simple. There are two kinds of sentences: Verbal sentence (the predicate is verb) and nominal sentence (the predicate is noun, adjective, and adverb). Only continuous tense doesn't have nominal form, the others have both verbal and nominal form.

Each tenses have the same structure, but only the verb and the auxiliary are different. Learn it through the examples bellow.

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Simple Present Tense

1) Simple present is used to express a regular, habitual or repeated actions or events.
e.g I go to school every morning.

2) Simple present is used to express a universal truth or scientific principle.
e.g  The sun rises in the east

3) Simple present is used to express a future action (Pre-planned or arranged program)
e.g He arrives here tomorrow afternoon

4) Simple present is used to indicate future action (definite one)
e.g The final exam begins next week

5) Simple present is used on Maxims and Proverbs.
e.g The early bird catches the worm

6) Simple present is used for Future after Conjunctions showing time.
e.g Stay here until I come back

7) Simple present is used in Imperative sentences.
e.g Don't be noisy

8) Simple present is used to tell about Past events in a dramatic way.
e.g Now the King leads his army to defeat His enemy

Present Progressive/Continuous Tense

Present Continuous

1) Present Continuous is used to express things that are happening at the moment of speaking.
e.g I am studying right now. Don’t disturb me!

2) Present Continuous is used for temporary situations
e.g I am living here for about a year

Simple present is used for permanent situations.

3) Present Continuous is used for new habits or temporary habits (for normal habits that continue for a long time, we use the present simple).
e.g He is reading a lot of book these days

4) Present Continuous is used to show that something happens too often and we don't like it (Usually use an adverb like 'always', 'forever' or 'constantly').
e.g You always sleeping at class

5) Present Continuous is used for definite future arrangements
e.g I am leaving tomorrow morning

6) Present Continuous is used to talk about a situation which is slowly changing.
e.g I am getting better at playing guitar

Simple Past Tense

1) Simple Past is used to express completed action in the past
e.g I bought a novel yesterday

2) Simple Past is used to express a series of completed action in the past
e.g I went to library, read some books, and backed home

3) Simple Past is used to express an action or event with duration in the past (Usually use time signals such as ‘for two years’, ‘for five minutes’, ‘all day’, ‘all year’, etc.)
e.g I lived in Ireland for two years

4) Simple Past is used to express habits in the past
e.g I studied Arabic when I was a child

5) Simple Past is used to express past facts or generalizations
e.g I didn’t like spicy food before

Past Progressive/Continuous Tense

1) Past Continuous Tense is used to indicate that a longer action in the past was interrupted.
e.g I was eating when you came

2) Past Continuous Tense is used to express an action in specific time as an Interruption
e.g Lat night at 10 pm, I was reading novel

3) Past Continuous Tense is used to express Parallel Actions (2 or more activities)
e.g I was eating while my brother was playing guitar

4) Past Continuous Tense is used to express repetition and Irritation with "Always"
e.g He was always complaining

Simple Future Tense

1) Simple Future Tense is used to express a voluntary action
e.g I will give you the money tomorrow

2) Simple Future Tense is used to express a promise
e.g I will tell you at school

3) Simple Future Tense is used to express a plan
e.g I am going to build a new house

4) Simple Future Tense is used to express a prediction
e.g
It is going to rain
They will not come

Future Progressive Tense

1) Future Continuous Tense is used to express interrupted action in the future
e.g I will be waiting when the bus arrives

2) Future Continuous Tense is used to indicate specific time as an Interruption in the Future
e.g At midnight, I will still be writing

3) Future Continuous Tense is used to express parallel actions
e.g We will be studying tonight, eating together, and having good time together

Present Perfect Tense


1) Present Perfect Tense is used to express an action in unspecific time in the past.
e.g I have gone to Europe twice

2) Present Perfect Tense is used to express an accomplishment.
e.g I have learned English

Present Perfect continuous Tense

1) Present Perfect Continuous is used to express actions or event started in the past and has continued up until now.
e.g She has been waiting for two hours

2) Present Perfect Continuous is used to express actions or events that happened recently or lately.
e.g
Recently, I have been feeling so tired
I have been doing lots of exercises lately

Past Perfect Tense

1) Past Perfect expresses an idea that something occurred before another action in the past.
e.g I had lots of money before I went to Bali

2) Past Perfect indicate duration Before Something in the Past (Non-Continuous Verbs)
e.g By the time he finished his training, he had been in Mexico for over two years

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

1) Past Perfect Continuous is used to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past.
e.g I had been waiting for five hours before he came.

2) Past Perfect Continuous is used to show cause and effect in the past.
e.g I felt bored because I had been working there for 10 years

*Pas continuous uses duration such as "for five minutes," "for two weeks" or "since Friday,"

Future Perfect Tense

1) Future Perfect Tense is used to expresses the idea that something will occur before another action in the future.
e.g By next August, I will have finished my German course.
By the time I finish my thesis, I will have completed my French course.

*Finish is in a time clause, so use present tense

2) Future Perfect Tense is used to expresses an action with Duration Before Something in the Future (Non-Continuous Verbs)
e.g By next November, I will have been here for five years

Future Perfect Continuous Tense


1) Future Perfect Continuous is used to show that something will continue up until a particular event or time in the future.
e.g When I finish my study, I will have been living here for four years

2)Future Perfect Continuous is used before another action in the future to show cause and effect.
e.g My English will be perfect when I finish my study because I will have been learning English for five years.

*Future Continuous uses duration such as "for five minutes," "for two weeks" or "since Friday,"

Those are the simple explanation and examples about 12 English Grammar Tenses. It is only explanation about the time when to use it. The structure will be explained later.

Read Also: Grammar Games


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The Real Education Updated at: 16:05

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