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Time and Tense

What is tense?

Tense is a grammatical category which is marked by verb inflection (Inflection = a change in

the form of a word, especially the ending, according to its grammatical function in a
sentence) and expresses when an event or action happens in the flow of time.

What is time?

Time is a measure in which events can be ordered from past through present into future and
also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time is often
referred to as the fourth dimension, along with the three spatial dimensions.

Difference between time and tense


Time is not a grammatical term

Time is a universal term
Time is free from language
Time tells about the day, month, year etc.
Time suggests the position of sun
Time is used as a Noun and a Verb.
1. Time (Noun):- Sadness flies away on the wings of time.
2. Time (Verb):-
Arrange time:-
Their request was badly timed. (They made a request at a wrong time)
Measure time:-
The winner was timed at 20.04 seconds
In sport:-
She timed the pass perfectly
A beautifully timed shot.


Tense is a grammatical term

Tense is not a universal term
Tense is not free from language
Tense will not tell about the day, month, year etc.
Tense indicates the time of occurrence of an event.
Tense is used as the Noun, Verb and Adjective.
1. Tense (Adjective):- He is a very tense person.
2. Tense (Noun):- Past tense, Present tense, Future tense.
3. Tense (Verb):- His muscles tensed as he got ready to run.

Types of tense:-

1. Present tense
2. Past tense
3. Future tense

Present Tense:-

A tense expressing the action that is currently going on or habitually performed.

There are four subtypes in a tense:-

1. Indefinite
2. Continuous
3. Perfect
4. Perfect continuous

Indefinite:- The Indefinite tenses are used to describe the actions but do not state whether
the action is complete or on-going.
Continuous:- The continuous tenses are used to describe the actions that are going on at the
time of speaking. E.g. I am going to school
Perfect:- The perfect tenses are used to describe the actions that are already finished but
their effect is still on. E.g. I have cut my finger ( Means it still pains)
Perfect continuous:- This tense is used to describe the actions that started in the past and
are still continuing. E.g. I have been reading a novel since morning. ( Means I am still reading
Note:- Some sentences are written in present but they give the sense of past and future at
the same time.
Like: - I wish I knew the answer. (Past-Present)
(I am sorry I do not know the answer)
Like: - Lets wait till he comes. (Present-Future)

1. I write this letter to please you. (Present)

2. I wrote this letter to please you. (Past)
3. I will write this letter to please you. (Future)

Present indefinite:- Present indefinite will describe the actions in present but do not state whether
the action is complete or on-going.

Subject + verb 1st form (s, es) +


1. To express permanent activity, action, nature or event:-


1. I go to school daily

2. This garden is beautiful.

3. I teach in school.

2. To express the habitual actions, repeated or routine actions:-


1. I take tea every day.

2. She always comes late.

3. I wake up at 6:00am every day.

3. To express planned actions, programmes, event.

1. I go to Delhi on Sunday.
2. The train arrives at 10:00PM
3. We live in India.
4. School reopens in October.

4. To express the general truth or principle:-

1. The earth moves round the sun.
2. Water evaporates in summer
3. Two and two makes four.
4. Man is mortal.
5. Water boils at 100 degree C.

5. When there is a description of the two events of future then the sentence which starts
with the conjunction of time (When, before, as soon as) will be written in present tense.


I will discuss the matter with him when he will come. (Incorrect)
I will discuss the matter with him when he comes.

6. To express the possession/ownership:-

1. I have a car
2. This car belongs to you.
3. I have written this.

7. To express newspaper headlines, commentary, series of events:-

1. Terrorist kills ten people in Kashmir.

8. Emphatic sentences:-
1. I do admit my mistake.
2. She does play tennis every day.

Present continuous:-

Subject + is, am, are + Verb 1st form+ ing


1. For the event that is happening right now.

1. The children are making noise.
2. They are playing football
3. She is singing a song.

2. For the program, plan, event that is going to happen in near future.
1. We are going to see a movie tonight.
2. I am going to purchase a car.

3. For a work that is going on but necessarily right now.

1. I am writing a book these days.

2. He is working hard these days.

Stative verbs:- There are few verbs in the English language which cannot be used in the present
continuous tense because these verbs instead of describing the progress of an event they describe
the state of an event. Such verbs are called stative verbs (Non-progressive verbs). So instead of using
them in continuous tense they are used in Indefinite tense.

1. Verbs of perception:- Hear, smell, see, recognize, taste, please, prefer.

2. Verbs of thinking:- Agree, believe, consider, forget, imagine, know, mean, mind, mind,
remember, suppose, think, under.
3. Verbs of possession:- Belong, consist of, contempt, have, own, posses, remain.
4. Verbs of emotion:- Desire, feel, hate, hope, love, like, refuse.
5. Verbs of appearing:- Appear, look, seem
6. Verbs in general:- Affect, become, cost, resemble etc.

1. I am hating smoking. (Incorrect) 1. I hate smoking. (Correct)

2. He is owning a car. (Incorrect) 2. He owns a car.(Correct)
3. I have a car. (Stative verb, correct) 3. I am having my meal. (Progressive
4. I think you are wrong. (Stative verb, verb, correct)
correct) 4. I am thinking of joining a club.
(progressive verb, correct)

Present perfect tense:-

Subject + has/have + Verb

3rd form + object


1. To express the actions that have completed in the past but whose effect is felt at
present time also. In this tense we use the following adverbs:-
1. Just 2. Till today 3. Till now 4. So far 5. Yet 6. Already 7. This morning 8. This week


1. I have just finished my work.

2. He has not come back so far.

3. He has not deposited his fee till today.

2. To express actions started in the past & continues up to the present.

1. I have not seen her for a long time.
2. I have lived in Jaipur for 5 years.

3. With present perfect tense never use the adverb of past time ( Like:- Yesterday, last
week, last year).

1. I have passed in 1980. (Wrong)

2. He has gone to Bombay yesterday. (Wrong)

1. I passed in 1980. (Correct)

2. I went to Bombay yesterday. (Correct)

Present perfect continuous tense:-

Subject + has/have + Verb 1st + ing +

since/for + Time

1. To express the actions started in the past and still going on.
1. Ram has been playing football since 3:00PM.
2. I have been living in Jaipur for 7 years.

Use of for:-

1. Numerical adjectives + Minutes + Hours + days + Months + Years + Centuries + Decades.

1. For thirty minutes/ for many minutes/ for several minutes/ same up to decades.....
2. For two hours/ for many hours/ for several minutes/ same up to decades.......

3. A + Minute + An hour + Day + Month + Year + Decade + Century

For a minute, for an hour............

4. A long period/ a long time/ ever / a while / a moment.....

1. For a long period 2. For a long time 3. For a while 4. For a moment.
5. The last/past + Numerical adjectives + Minute/hour/day/month/year/decade/century.
1. For the last ten minutes 2. For the last three hours................
6. Seasons:-
1. For two seasons 2. For three seasons.............

7. When there is period of time + ago is used in the sentence then we use since not
1. His brother has been ill for five days. (Correct)
2. His brother has been ill since five days. (Incorrect)
3. His brother has been ill for five days ago. (Incorrect)
4. His brother has been ill since five days ago.(Correct)
Five days ago is not a period of time it a point of time.

8. For is not used before all + period of time

1. For all day (Incorrect) 2. For all month (Incorrect) 3. For all year (Incorrect)
2. It has been raining all the day. (Correct)
For can be used in simple present, simple past and simple future tense.
1. Binay waited for me for two hours. (Correct, simple past)
2. She goes there for two hours every day. ( Correct, simple present)
3. My mother will be in Mumbai for next four years. (Correct, simple future)

Use of since:-

Since is used before definite point of time.

1. Name of the day, month, year
1. Since Monday 2. Since April 3. Since 2012

2. Since morning/ evening/ night/ dawn/ twilight

3. O clock/ am/ pm

1. Since 5 o clock
2. Since 8:00PM
3. Since 7:00AM

4. Yesterday/ last night/ last month/ last year/

1. Since yesterday/ since last month/ since last year.

5. Name of the season
1. Since winter
2. Since summer
3. Since spring
4. Since Autumn

5. Name of the festivals

1. Since Diwali / Since Holi/ Since Dashehra
6. Name of the events:-
1. Since his arrival
2. Since his departure
3. Since his birth
4. Since his marriage
7. Stages of ones life:-
1. Since childhood
2. Since your youth
8. Last Monday/ Tuesday/.............../ January/ February/.......
1. Since last Monday 2. Since last year
9. The last + time expressing words.
Before such sentence formation we always use For not Since.
Because it is the period of time not the point of time.
e.g. Since last week means:- A point of time about seven days ago.
e.g. For the last week means:- Period of seven days has just completed.

Past Indefinite Tense:-

Subject + 2nd from

Subject Be +

When the work is finished in the past then it is called past tense. We use the time
expressing adverbs of past like. Yesterday, last week, last month, last year or any time
which has already passed or gone.

e.g. 1. I received his letter yesterday.

2. He passed in 1994.

2. If a work was done in the past continuously again and again but currently stopped we use
past tense.

e.g. 1. He always went to see him in the hospital.

2. Gandhiji always carried a stick with him.

In such sentences we always use the adverbs of frequency (Always, Never, Daily, Every
day, Every Month).

To express the habit of the past. ( We always use Used to to explain the habit of the
e.g. 1. I used to play football.
2. He used to smoke.
Would is also used to say that something happened often or regularly in the
e.g. We would often have lunch together when we worked in the same office.

In the conditional sentences to show the unreal past/ unfulfilled desire we use
past indefinite tense after if, as if, as though, if only, I wish.
e.g. 1. He behaves as if he were the president.
2. I wish I were the president of America.

We use past Indefinite after, it is time/ it is high time/ it is about time.

e.g. 1. It is high time that we left Bombay.
2. It is about time that you started a new business.
We also use past indefinite to express wish/desire.
e.g. 1. I wish I knew him

Past continuous tense:- If a work is continuous in the past or may be continuous yet but we do not
know about when did it start and finish. It is called the past continuous tense.

Subject + was/were + verb 1st + ing + object


To express actions taking place at some past time. The time of the action may or
may not be mentioned.

e.g. 1. We all were playing football.

To express the persistent habit of past.

e.g. He was continuously writing the letters to the Editor.

Past perfect Tense:-

Past perfect is the past of past.


To express the actions which were completed before the past time.
e.g. 1. I had come in Jaipur before 1992.
2. He had left India before Independence.
When the two actions are completed in past, then the action which was completed
at first we write it in past perfect and the action which was completed later is
written in past indefinite. ( Always use before/ after in such sentences)
e.g. 1. Ram had gone before you came.
2. The doctor arrived after the patient had died.
When both the actions completed nearly at the same time in the past then we
write both in past indefinite.
e.g. He came and sat on the floor.

To express unfulfilled actions/ unfulfilled wish, desire etc.

e.g. 1. I wish I had become an IAS.
2. Only if I had become an IAS.
3. Would that I had become an IAS.
To express the impossible actions with if, as if, as though.
e.g. 1. I would have come if you had called me.
2. If he had taken a taxi he would not have missed the train.

Past perfect continuous tense:-

Subject + had been + ing + since/for

+ time

To express the actions which started in the past and continued for some time in
the past.
E.g. 1. She had been singing a song for 2 hours.
2. They had been playing football since morning.
To express an action which had been going on for some time before another action
took place in the past.
e.g. 1. I had been teaching in a school for ten years before I joined the bank.

Future indefinite tense:-

Subject + shall/will + verb 1st

+ object


To express the actions which will happen in future.

e.g. 1. I shall play football tomorrow.
2. They will sing a song.

1. He is going to purchase a new house.
2. We are going to see a picture.

Subject + Be + Infinitive

1. I am to go to Bombay today.
2. I am to start a new business.

Subject + Be + about + Infinitive

1. The old lady is about to die.

2. We are about to leave for London.

Subject + has/have + Infinitive

1. She has to attend the party.

2. We have to play the match.

Future continuous tense:-

Subject + Shall/will + Be + ing +



1. The action which will continue in future for some time.

e.g. 1. She will be sleeping at this time.

2. They will be playing football

3. We shall be reading some story books.

2. To express the fixed plan or program of the future.

e.g. 1. I shall be staying with my friend for next week.

2. He will be meeting the president on Sunday.

Future perfect tense:-

Subject + shall/will + have + Verb 3rd



1. When an action will start in future and will continue for some time in future and will end
then we will use this tense. We use By then, By the time, By + time.

e.g. 1. We shall have finished this Job by this time.

2. You will have saved one lakh rupees by the next year.

3. She will have left the place by the time.

Future perfect continuous:-

Subject + shall/will + have been + Verb 1st

form + ing + since/for


1. When an action will start in future & will be continuous for some time then it is used.

e.g. I shall have been playing football for two hours.