Verb Tenses in English Grammar (Definition, Formula & Examples)

Verb tenses in English Grammar may refer to the present time, past time, and future time. The knowledge of verb tenses is necessary to make proper sentences in English grammar.

There are three basic types of tenses, past, present and future tense. These are based on the idea of the time in the given sentence when the action takes place.

Each of these three types has further four sub-types. Today, we are going to explain these 12 tenses.

12 tenses in English are;

  1. Simple Present
  2. Present Progressive / Continuous
  3. Present Perfect
  4. Present Perfect Progressive / Continuous
  5. Simple Past
  6. Past Progressive / Continuous
  7. Past Perfect
  8. Past Perfect Progressive / Continuous
  9. Simple Future
  10. Future Progressive / Continuous
  11. Future Perfect
  12. Future Perfect Progressive / Continuous

PRESENT TENSE

Definition: A verb that refers to the present time is said to be in the present tense. The present tense has four types.

Simple Present Tense (Present Indefinite Tense)

Definition

Simple present tense is used to express general statements and describe the usual and habitual acts. It shows the routine work that we perform daily, regularly or always.

Formula / Structure

Subject + Base form of verb (+ s/es for third person) + object

He/She/It + base form(V1)(s/es)

They/We + base form(V1)

Examples

  • He wakes up early in the morning.
  • We work in the office from 8 o’clock to 3 o’clock.
  • She loves cooking continental food.

Further reading: Simple Present (Formula, Examples & Exercises)

Present Progressive/Continuous Tense

Definition

Present progressive tense is used to describe the action that is happening at the time of speaking.

Formula / Structure

Subject + is/am/are + present participle + object

I + am

He/She/It + is

They/We + are

Examples

  • He is eating a burger.
  • They are eating burgers.
  • It is raining.

Further reading: Present Continuous Formula, Examples & Usage

Present Perfect Tense

Definition

Present perfect tense is used to indicate the action that is completed by given time.

Formula / Structure

Subject + has/have + past participle (V3) + object

He/She/It + has

They/We/I + have

Examples

  • I have read the book.
  • She has sent him back.
  • It has rained.

Further reading: Present Perfect Tense with Examples

Present Perfect Progressive/Continuous Tense

Definition

It is used to indicate the action that began in the past and is still continuing.

Formula /Structure

Subject + has/have been + present participle + object + since/for + time reference

He/She + has been reading book for one hour.

They/We/I + have been reading book for one hour.

Examples 

  • It has been raining for the last two hours.
  • I have been waiting here since morning.

Further reading: Present Perfect Continuous Examples, Exercise, & Structure

PAST TENSE

Definition: A verb that refers to the past time is said to be in the past tense. The past tense has four types.

Simple Past Tense (Past Indefinite Tense)

Definition

It is used to indicate an action or act in the past.

Formula / Structure

Subject + Verb(+ed) or irregular verb (V2) + object

He/She/It/I/We/They + V2

Examples

  • I played the game.
  • He read the book.
  • It rained yesterday.

Further reading: Simple Past Tense with Examples

Past Progressive/Continuous Tense

Definition

Past progressive tense expresses the action going on at some point in the past.

Formula / Structure: 

Subject + was/were + present participle(V1+ing) + object

He/She/It + was

We/They + were

Examples

  • I was reading a book when the bell rang.
  • She was cooking the meal when guests arrived.

Further reading: Past Continuous / Progressive Tense

Past Perfect Tense

Definition

Past perfect tense is used to describe the action completed at some point in the past.

Formula / Structure: 

Subject + had + past participle (V3) + object

Subject + had + V3

Examples

  • I had finished my work when the doorbell rang.
  • They had taken their meal before the guests arrived.

Further reading: Past Perfect Tense with Examples (30 Sentences)

Past Perfect Progressive/Continuous Tense

Definition

The past perfect progressive tense is used to describe an action that had been going on for some time and finished at some definite time in the past.

Formula / Structure

Subject + had been + present participle + object + time reference

He/She/It/I/We/They + had been

Examples

  • I had been doing my homework for two hours.
  • It had been raining since morning.

Further reading: Past Perfect Continuous Tense with Examples

FUTURE TENSE

Definition: A verb that refers to the future time is said to be in the future tense. The future tense has four types.

Simple Future Tense (Future Indefinite Tense)

Definition

It is used to describe a single act that has still to take place.

Formula / Structure

Subject + will/shall + base form(V1) + object

He/She/It/I/We/They + will/shall + V1

Examples

  • It will rain tomorrow.
  • The will leave for Glasgow next Monday.

Future Progressive/Continuous Tense

Definition

It is used to describe the action as going on at some point in the future.

Formula / Structure

Subject + will be + present participle + object

Am/is/are + going to be + present participle

Examples 

  • He will be watching the TV at 8 pm.
  • He is going to be watching the TV at 8 pm.

Future Perfect Tense

Definition

It is used to describe an action that will be completed at some specific future time/date.

Formula / Structure

Subject + will have + past participle (V3) + object

Am/is/are + going to have + past participle

Examples

  • He will have played the game.
  • He is going to have played the game.

Future Perfect Progressive/Continuous Tense

Definition

It is used to describe an action which has been going on continuously and has yet to be completed in the future.

Formula / Structure

Subject + will have been + present participle + object + time reference

Am/is/are + going to have been + present participle

Examples

  • I will have been watching the TV for over one hour before you join me.
  • I am going to have been watching the TV for over one hour before you join me.
Verb Tenses in English Grammar (Definition, Formula & Examples)
Verb Tenses in English Grammar (Definition, Formula & Examples)

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