Tenses In English Grammar With Examples

In English Grammar, there are 12 tenses. I’m going to discuss all these tenses with examples.

tenses in english grammar with examples

Simple Present Tense

The present simple is the most common tense used by people. It is also called the simple present.

We use the base form of the verb to make simple present tense when using you, they, we, and I.

present simple with you, they, we, I

See Examples;

You wash the car.
I wash the car.
They wash the car.
We wash the car.

Add -s to the verb for subjects (he, she, it, and singular noun) 

simple present tense with he she it singular noun

See Examples;

He needs a roommate.
She needs a blanket.
It needs a lot of work
John needs money.

Add -es to verbs when using he, she, it and singular noun if the verb:

  1. ends with z, s, x, ss, ch, or sh
  2. ends with o
  3. ends with y preceded by a consonant—change the y to i before adding -es

See Examples;

He washes the car.
She goes to school.
He tries very hard.
My cat scratch the furniture.

Simple Present Tense
(Verb  ‘To be”) 

The verb ‘to be’ describes the identity, qualities, or condition of a person or object.

Use the following to form the present tense of the verb ‘to be’.

  • I am : I am serious.
  • You are : You are my friend.
  • She is: She is busy.
  • It is : It is wrong.
  • They are : They are good.
  • We are : We are happy.

‘To be’ Positive Sentence

  1. am ready.
  2. She is my friend.
  3. They are twins.
  4. The flowers are yellow.
  5. The flashlight is in the tent.
  6. am tired today.
  7. The toys are in the basement.
  8. The ribbons in my hair are pink.
  9. The kitchen is very small.
  10. The vacuum is in the closet.

‘To be’ Negative Sentence

Place not after the verb to be to create the negative form of the present tense. Some examples of the negative form of the simple present tense are:

  1. She is not my sister.
  2. My neighbors are not Spanish.
  3. My sister-in-law is not Italian.
  4. Diane is not pregnant.
  5. The limes are not sour.
  6. The bus is not empty.
  7. The kids are not early for class today.
  8. The drawers are not empty.
  9. It is not a nice city.

Place the verb to be before the subject to create the question form of the simple present tense.

  1. Is the bus empty?
  2. Is he your teacher?
  3. Is it expensive?
  4. Are you serious

Uses of Simple Present

There are the following uses of the simple present tense:

1.  With adverbials: always, often, rarely, sometimes, never, generally, usually, etc.

  • He always writes an Email to his parents.
  • I often try to solve such type of questions.
  • I usually study in the morning. 
  • He never tells a lie.

2. Every + Point of time:

  • He goes to market every evening.
  • They visit zoo every Sunday.

3. General/good/bad habits:

  • He drinks wine. (General habit)
  • He smokes in public. (Bad habit)
  • I like reading books. (Good habit)

4. Time table and daily routine:

  • The train leaves at midnight. 
  • My bother sleeps late at night.
  • I get up early in the morning.

5. Future plan & programs:

  • My boss presents the budget tomorrow. 

6. Universal & general truth:

  • The earth moves round the sun.
  • Two and two makes four.
  • The sun rises in the east. 

Simple Past Tense

We use the past simple tense to express finished actions. It is often used with an expression of past time to give more complete information.

It is also called Past Indefinite Tense.

See the basic structure of the past simple sentence.

“Subject + Past Form + Object”

Simple Past with Regular Verbs

We use regular verbs in the simple past that always end with a -d.

We usually add -ed to the base form of the verb to make past form:

Visit -ed – Visited (Past Form)
Start -ed – Started (Past Form)
Open – ed – Opened (Past Form)

See Examples
I visited Australia.
I opened the door.
I started a business.
I worked in the local bank.

Simple Past with Irregular Verbs

Some verbs do not use the -ed ending to express the past tense. These are irregular verbs, and they have unique past tense forms. For example; 

Shake – Shook, Buy- Bought, Do – Did, Break – Broke, etc

See Examples
The house shook during the earthquake.
We bought a nice gift for our parents.
I did the dishes after supper.
You broke my favorite cup.

Negative Sentence
(Past Simple)

To form negative sentences in the past simple tense,

Use the auxiliary verb did (the past tense of do) together with not before the main verb of the sentence.

Place did not after the subject and use the simple form of the verb to create the negative form of the simple past tense for regular and irregular verbs.

“Subject + Did not + Verb + Object”

  1. did not forget to tell him.
  2. She did not waste my valuable time.
  3. Marcia did not report her income.
  4. did not shake the bottle of medicine.
  5. My uncle did not shave his head.
  6. He did not apologize to his friend.

Interrogative Sentence
(Past Simple)

Like negative sentences, we have to use the auxiliary verb did to make interrogative sentences (sentences that ask questions) in the past simple tense.

Place did before the subject to create questions in the simple past tense.

The base form of the verb is always used when creating questions in the simple past tense with regular and irregular verbs. 

“Did + Subject + Verb + Object”

  1. Did Jessica find a starfish on the beach?
  2. Did the squirrel eat the peanuts?
  3. Did he shoot a deer last weekend?
  4. Did I indicate my overtime hours on my timesheet?
  5. Did they remain friends after the argument?

Simple Future Tense

The government will reduce taxes next year.
My mother will make a cherry pie.
He will declare bankruptcy.
John will trim his sideburns.

Present Continuous Tense

We use the present continuous tense to speak about actions that are currently happening.

The present continuous tense is also called the present progressive tense.

To make the present progressive sentence, use be + present participle.

It can only be used with action verbs.

The wolf is howling at the moon.
They are crossing the lake in a canoe.
She is pouring a soft drink for you.
The nuns are sewing clothes.

It can also be used to describe actions or events that are planned for the future.

We are watching a movie later.

Past Continuous Tense

The past continuous tense is used to describe something that was in progress at a certain moment in the past.

To form the past continuous sentence;

Use subject + were present participle.

“Subject + Was/Were + Verb-ing + Others”

You were putting the memo on the bulletin board.
We were wearing our raincoats.

If the subject is a singular pronoun, replace were with was.

He was reading the label on the can.
I was talking to my boss in his office.

Future Continuous Tense

The future progressive tense expresses an action that will be in progress in the future.

To make the future progressive sentence, use will be + present participle.

He will be scolding her.
She will be witting a story.
They will be preparing for a test.
John will be playing cricket.

Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is used when the time of past activity is not important or is not known in the sentence.

The present perfect tells us about something that occurred at some indefinite period in the past.

To form the Present perfect sentence; 

Use have + past participle

They have borrowed a lot of money from their friends.
You have offended everybody in the office.
I have heard that noise in my car several times.
I have brought enough for everybody.

If the subject is third-person singular pronouns, replace have with has.

She has taught English in many different schools.
My dog has chewed all the furniture.

Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense expresses the action that occurred before another action in the past. 

To form the past perfect sentence; 

Use hadpast participle

“Subject + Had + Past Participle + Others”

Use the past perfect with for, since, before, ever, never, once, twice, already, yet, so far, by then, just, finally.

Use the past perfect with the first event. Use the past
tense with the later event.

He had held a baby before today.
It had arrived, so I called the store.
I had noticed that you were standing there.
She had paid the phone bill, so I paid for it.

Future Perfect Tense

The future perfect tense is used to express an action that will be finished at a specific time in the future.

To form the future perfect sentence; 
Use will have + past participle + by + a specific date/a specific time/a specific event


I will have finished my exams by June 1st.
We will have read the reports by ten o’clock.
She will have finished all the housework by lunchtime.
I will have taken my shower by the time you arrive.
They will have eaten supper by the time we arrive.

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Generally, we use the present perfect continuous to talk about that which began in the past and is still happening in the present.

The present perfect continuous tense is also called the present perfect progressive tense.

To form present perfect continuous tense,  use the present tense of the auxiliary verb have along with been and the present participle (-ing form) of the “main” verb.

The present perfect continuous tense emphasizes the duration of action.

We usually specify the duration of time involved using for and since.

Use for (a length of time), since (an exact time).

Subject + have + been + Verb-ing + Object

For example:

I have been living in Delhi for three years.
I have been living in  Delhi since 1988.

If the subject is third-person singular pronouns, replace have with has.

He has been living in Delhi for three years.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

We use the past perfect continuous tense to describe an action that began and was still in progress in the past before another past action started.

It also called the past perfect progressive tense.

The past perfect continuous emphasizes the continuous progress of an action.

To form the past perfect continuous, use had been + the present participle of the main verb. 

Subject + had + been + Verb-ing + Object

See Examples
I had been waiting for a long time when the train finally came.
I had been studying for five years before I started to work.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

The future perfect continuous tense expresses an action that will have been in progress for a certain length of time at a specific time in the future.

It is also known as the future perfect progressive tense.

Use subject + will have been + present participle to form the future perfect progressive tense.

Subject + will have + been + Verb-ing + Object

See Examples
By the time I get there, she will have been waiting for over an hour.
By the time I go to bed, I will have been cooking for 2 hours. 

Leave a Reply