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Definition A tense is a set of forms taken by a verb to indicate the time (and sometimes also the continuance or completeness) of the action in relation to the time of the utterance. The word tense comes from Latin word tempus which means time. Classification/Categorization Among many other ways of categorizing the verb tenses, most recognized way is categorizing by the time frame. According to the time frame the verb tenses may be categorized as following:

Past Tenses. Present Tenses.

Future tenses.

Present Indefinite I eat. Continuou I am eating. s

Past I ate. I was eating.

Future I shall eat. I shall be eating.


I have eaten.

I had eaten before he came. I had eaten. I had been eating before he came.

I shall have eaten by/before 5 P.M. (/will come)). I shall have been eating

Or, He came after (/before he comes Perfect s I have been hours (/

Continuou eating for two since 4 P.M.).

Or, He came after by/before/until 5 I had been eating. P.M. (/before he comes (/will come)).

Structures of Indefinite Tenses: Indefinite Tenses Present Past Future Sub + Ext. Sub Structures + Main verb(s/es) [Present form] + Main verb [Past form] [Present form]

+ Ext. Sub + Shall/Will + Main verb + Ext.

Structures of Continuous Tenses: Continuous Tenses Present Sub +am/ is/ are

Structures + Main verb(ing) +

Past Future

Ext. Sub +was/ were

+ Main verb (ing)

+ Ext. Sub + Shall/Will + be + Main verb (ing) + Ext.

Structures of Perfect Tenses: Perfect Tenses Present Past Sub + Ext. Sub + Ext. *[Past Perfect or, Past Indefinite Future + After + Past Perfect. + Verb (Past Part.) ] Sub + Shall/ Will + have + Ext. *[Future Perfect + By/Before/Until + Point In Time (5 P.M.). Or, Future Perfect + Before + Present/ Future Indefinite. Or, Present/ Future Indefinite + After + Future Perfect.] Structures of Perfect Continuous Tenses: Perfect Continuou

Structures + have/has + Verb (Past Part.) + had + Before + Verb (Past Part.) + Past Indefinite.


s Tenses Present

Sub + Ext.

+ have/has + been + Verb (ing) + Pd. Of Time (5

Present Perfect Continuous + For hours).

Present Perfect Continuous + Since + Pt. In Time (5 Past P.M.). Sub + Ext. *[Past Perfect Continuous Indefinite. or, Past Indefinite Future Perfect Continuous.] Sub + Shall/ Will + have + Ext. *[Future Perfect Continuous + By/Before + Pt. In Time (5 P.M.). Or, Future Perfect Continuous + Before + Present/ Future Indefinite. Or, Present/ Future Indefinite + After + Future Perfect Continuous. ] + After + Past + Before + Past + had + been + Verb (ing)

+ been + Verb (ing)

Uses of Different kinds of Tenses Uses:


Present Indefinite Tense:


To express a habitual action. Such as- My watch keeps He drinks tea every morning.

good time.


To express general truth. Such asFortune favours the brave.

Honey is sweet.


In exclamatory sentence beginning with here and there.

Such as- Here comes the bus! There she goes! 4. In vivid narrative, as substitute for the Simple past. Such asHumayun ascends the throne of Delhi at the age of twelve. To express a future event that is a part of a fixed timetable or fixed 5. 6. Programmed. To introduce Quotations. Such asIn stead of Simple Future Tense, in clause of time and I shall wait till you finish your lunch. If it rains we shall get wet. 7. In stead of Present Continuous, with the following types a. Verbs of Perception: See, Hear, Smell, Notice, of verbsRecognize b. Verbs of Appearing: Appear, Look, Seem c. Verbs of Emotion: want, wish, desire, feel, like, love, hope, refuse, prefer. The match starts at 9 Oclock. Keats says, A thing of beauty is joy for ever. of condition

d. Verbs of Thinking: think, suppose, believe, agree, consider, trust, remember, forget, know, understand, imagine, mean, mind.

Verbs of Possession: have, own. Possess, belong to, contain, consist of, be (not in the passive).


Present Continuous Tense:


For an action going on at the time of speaking- She is singing (Now). For a temporary action which may not be actually happening at the time of speaking- I am reading David Copperfield. I am working in this factory.


3. To express an action that has already been arranged to take place in near futureI am going to the cinema tonight. My uncle is arriving tomorrow. 4. To indicate obstinate habit in spite of advice or warningMy dog is very silly; he is always running out into the road. C. Present Perfect Tense: 1. To indicate completed activities in the immediate pastHe has broken the glass. It has rained. 2. To express past action whose time is not given and not definiteI have never known him to be angry.

3. To express past even when we think more of their effect in the present than of the action itselfI have cut my finger. I have finished my work. 4.To denote an action beginning at some time in the past and continuing up to the present moment(Often with since- and forphrases)D. Present Perfect Continuous: 1. The Present Perfect Continuous tense is used for an action which began at some time in the past and still continuingHe has been sleeping for five hours. They have been playing since four oclock. E. Simple Past: 1. To indicate an action completed in the pastI received his letter a week ago. She left school last year. 2. To indicate a past habitHe studied many hours every day. She always carried an umbrella. F. Past Continuous: 1. To express an action going on at some time in the past whose time may or may not be mentionedIt was getting darker. We were listening to the radio all evening.


Past Perfect: 1. It describe an action completed before a certain

moment in the past(I met him New Delhi in 2006.) I had seen him last five years before. H. Past Perfect Continuous: 1. To express an action that began before a certain point in the past and continued up to that timeAt that moment he had been reading a novel for two months. I had been eating rice for two hours before he came.

Simple Future: 1. To talk about things which we cannot control. It express the future as factIt will be Eid in a week. 2. To talk about what we think or believe will happen in the futureI think India will win the match. Probably, he will get first class. J. Future Continuous: 1. To talk about actions which will be in progress

at a time in the Future-I suppose it will be raining when we start.

2. To talk about actions in the future which are already planned or Which are expected to happen. I will be staying here till Sunday. K. Future Perfect: 1. The Future Perfect Tense is used to talk about actions that will be completed by a certain future timeI shall have written my exercise by then. I will have worked here for five years. L. Future Perfect Continuous: 1. To indicate actions which will be in progress over a period of time that will end in the futureI will have been teaching for twenty years next July.