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What Is Verb Tense?

(with Examples)
The tense of a verb is determined by when the action took place. The three tenses
are:
The Past Tense
The Present Tense
The Future Tense
Examples of Tenses
Here are some examples of verbs in different tenses:
I walked to work.
(The verb walked is in the past tense.)
I walk to work.
(The verb walk is in the present tense.)
I will walk to work.
(The verb will walk is in the future tense.)
Remember, verbs do not just express actions. They can also express a state of
being. For example:
I was happy.
(The verb was is in the past tense.)
I am happy.
(The verb am is in the present tense.)
I will be happy.
(The verb will be is in the future tense.)
Examples of Verbs in Different Tenses
Here are some more examples of verbs in the past, present, and future tenses:
The hardest that I have laughed at a movie was probably Team America. I laughed
'til I thought I was going to throw up. (Ron White)
(The shaded verbs are in the past tense.)
You laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at you because you are all the same.
(Jonathan Davis)
(The shaded verbs are in the present tense.)
Nobody will laugh long who deals much with opium; even its pleasures are of a
grave and solemn complexion. (Thomas de Quincey)
(The shaded verbs are in the future tense.)
You will notice that some of the verbs in the past tense example about Team
America are made up of more than one word (have laughed, was going). We need
these different versions of the tenses because the tenses are further categorized
depending on whether the action (or state of being) they describe is in progress or
completed. For example, the different versions of the verb to laugh are:
Past Tense: laughed, was/were laughing, had laughed, had been laughing
Present Tense: laugh, am/is/are laughing, has/have laughed, has/have been
laughing

Future Tense: will laugh, will be laughing, will have laughed, will have been
laughing
The Full List of Tenses
The table below shows the full list of the tenses:
The 4 Past Tenses
simple past tense
past progressive tense
past perfect tense
past perfect progressive tense
The 4 Present Tenses
simple present tense
present progressive tense
present perfect tense
present perfect progressive tense
The 4 Future Tenses
simple future tense
future progressive tense
future perfect tense
future perfect progressive tense

Example
I went
I was going
I had gone
I had been going
Example
I go
I am going
I have gone
I have been going
Example
I will go
I will be going
I will have gone
I will have been going

What Is the Past Tense? (with Examples)


The past tense describes a past event or a state of being. For example:

I jumped in the lake.


(past event)

I was happy.
(past state of being)
The tense of a verb is determined by when the action took place. The three main tenses
are:

past tense
present tense
future tense

Examples of the Types of Past Tenses

The past tense is categorized further depending on whether the action was in progress
or has been completed. The four past tenses are:

The 4 Past
Tenses

Examples

Uses

simple past
tense

The simple past tense is used to describe a


I went.
The Martians landed completed activity that started in the past and
ended in the past.
near the aqueduct.

past
progressive
tense

The past progressive tense is used to describe an


I was going.
He was painting the on-going activity in the past. Often, it is used to
door when a bird struck set the scene for another action.
the window.

past perfect
tense

I had gone.
Silverfinger had
taken the pill before the
team reached him.

The past perfect tense is used to emphasize that


an action was completed before another took
place.

past perfect
progressive

I had been going.


She had been
painting the door before
the dog scratched it.

The past perfect progressive tense is used to show


that an on-going action in the past has ended.

Diagrams for the Four Past Tenses

The infographics below show how each past tense is formed and a quick overview of
how each one is used:

Simple Past Tense

For example:

I played when I was younger.

Past Progressive Tense

For example:

I was playing for an hour.

Past Perfect Tense

For example:

I had played already.

Past Perfect Progressive Tense

For example:

I had been playing since I was ten.

What Is the Present Tense? (with Examples)


The present tense predominantly describes a current event or state of being. However,
somewhat unusually, the present tense can also be used to describe past and future
events (more on this below). For example:

I jump in the lake every Saturday.


(present event)

I am happy.
(present state of being)

The meeting ends at 6 o'clock.


(future event)
(See "Uses" for Simple Present Tense in the table below.)

A man walks into a bar. Ouch!


(past event)
(See "Uses" for Simple Present Tense in the table below.)
The tense of a verb is determined by when the action took place. The three main tenses

are:

past tense
present tense
future tense

Examples of the Types of Present Tense

The present tense is categorised further depending on whether the action is in progress
or completed. The four present tenses are:

The 4 Present
Tenses

Examples

simple present tense

Uses

I go.
I like chocolate.
The train gets in at 5
o'clock.
A horse walks into a bar,
and the barman says, "why the
long face?"

The simple present tense is used:

present_progressive
tense

I am going.
Barny is looking for the
latest brochure.

The present progressive tense is used


for an on-going action in the present.

present perfect tense

I have gone.
David has worked
alongside two of the world's
finest scientists in the field of
entomology.

The present perfect tense is used to


describe actions that began in the past
and are still continuing into the
present.

present perfect
progressive

(1) To describe facts and habits.


(2) To describe scheduled events in the
future.
(3) To tell stories to make your listener
or reader feel more engaged with the
story.

The present perfect progressive tense is


I have been going.
Amanda has been relying used for:
on a pay rise to pay her
(1) a continuous activity that began in
student loan.
the past and continues into the present,
or
(2) a continuous activity that began in
past but has now finished (usually very
recently).

Diagrams for the Four Present Tenses

The infographics below show how each present tense is formed and a quick overview of
how each one is used:

Simple Present Tense

For example:

I play every Tuesday

Present Progressive Tense

For example:

I am playing at the moment.

Present Perfect Tense

For example:

I have played for his team before.

Present Perfect Progressive Tense

For example:

I have been playing for a year.

Future Tense (with Examples)


The future tense expresses a future event or a future state of being. For example:

I will jump in the lake.


(future event)

I will be happy.
(future state of being)
The tense of a verb is determined by when the action took place. The three main tenses
are:

past tense
present tense
future tense

Examples of the Types of Future Tense

The future tense is categorized further depending on whether the action will be in
progress or will be completed. The four future tenses are:

The 4 Future
Tenses

Examples

simple future
tense

Uses

The simple future tense is used for an action


I will go.
that will occur in the future.
We will celebrate our
anniversary by flying to New
York.

I will be going.
The Moscow State
Circus will be performing in
Cheltenham for the next 3
weeks.

The future progressive tense is used for an


on-going action that will occur in the future.

future perfect
tense

I will have gone.


By the time you arrive,
we will have finished the
meal and the speeches.

The future perfect tense is used to describe an


action that will have been completed at some
point in the future.

future perfect
progressive

I will have been going. The future perfect progressive tense is used
for an on-going action that will be completed
In July next year, you
will have been studying for 3 at some specified time in the future.
years.

future
progressive
tense

Diagrams for the Four Future Tenses

The infographics below show how each future tense is formed and a quick overview of
how each one is used:

Simple Future Tense

For example:

I will play after breakfast.

Future Progressive Tense

For example:

I will be playing for an hour.

Future Perfect Tense

For example:

I will have played by breakfast.

Future Perfect Progressive Tense

For example:

I will have been playing for 2 hours by breakfast.