Introduction to Tenses
In English grammar, verbs are often used in a way that it indicates or denotes the time when an event occurred. These verbs that take up different forms to indicate the time of an action, event or condition by changing its form are called as tenses.
There are three main tenses (forms of verbs):
- Present Tense – the time that is passing.
- Past Tense – the time that has passed.
- Future Tense – the time to come.
Thus, Present tense expresses actions in the present time, past tense expresses actions in the past time, and future tense expresses actions in the future time.
(i) Sumit scores good marks. (Present tense)
(ii) Sumit scored good marks. (Past tense)
(iii) Sumit will score good marks. (Future tense)
The tense of a verb shows the time of an action or an event. It also shows continuance and perfection of it.
Each of these three main tenses has four kinds:
- Simple or Indefinite
- Continuous or Progressive
- Perfect Continuous
This tense is used to refer to something that happened in the past. Sometimes, past tense is also called as ‘simple past tense’. Example: We stayed in a hotel.
- Past continuous tense: This type of past tense is used to describe an event or occurrence that is ongoing or continuing in the past.
Example: We were playing tennis at the club.
- Past Perfect Tense: This type of tense is used to describe an event in the past that has been completed.
Example: We had completed our match before she had come.
- Past Perfect Continuous: This type of past tense verb is used to indicate an event, action or occurrence that started before another event, action or occurrence in the past. We can say that one action or event interrupted another.
Example: I had been playing the drums since school time.
This tense is used to refer or indicate to something that occurs in the present. The simple present or indefinite present tense is used to describe an action, event, or condition that is occurring in the present while being spoken about or written. Example: The dogs’ bark.
- Present Continuous Tense: This tense indicates the continuous nature of an act or event in the present and has not been completed. The activity has begun in the past and will be completed in the future.
Example: She is preparing chicken sandwiches for breakfast.
- Present Perfect Tense: This tense is used to describe an action that had begun in the past, continues into the present and has just been completed. The time of occurrence of the action is generally not mentioned. This tense is also used to describe an action happened in the past before another action took place.
Example: I have just completed my dinner.
- Present Perfect Continuous Tense: This tense is used to describe an action, event or occurrence that has begun in the past and continues into the present. It is also used for an action that began and just finished in the past or in cases where there is no mention of time.
Example: They have been trying to contact her.
This tense is used to refer to or indicate something that hasn’t happened at the time of speaking or writing. ‘Simple Future Tense’ commonly formed with the use of words ‘will’ and ‘shall’. Example: We shall be there by noon.
- Future Continuous Tense: This tense is used to describe actions that are ongoing or continuing in the future. It is commonly used in sentences by using the simple future tense of the verb with the present participle i.e ‘-ing’.
Example: His parents will be attending the convocation.
- Future Perfect Tense: Is used to refer or describe an event that will be completed sometime in the future before another action takes place. It is written by using the past participle of the verb with the simple future tense of the verb.
Example: I will have completed 10 years of work in August this year.
- Future Perfect Continuous Tense: This tense is used to describe an action that is continuing into the future and will be completed at a specified time in the future. This tense is written using the future perfect tense of the verb with the present participle.
Example: I shall have been living in Mumbai for five years by May 2019.