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Tenses

Tense is a form of a Verb used to indicate the time, and sometimes the continuation or completeness of an action in relation to the time of speaking. The word tense is derived from Latin word tempus which means time.

Tense is a method that we use in English to refer to time—pastpresent and future. Many languages use tenses to talk about time. Many other languages have no tenses, but, of course, they can still talk about time, using different methods. So, we talk about time in English with tenses. But, we can also talk about time without using tenses

 

Example:
 
Going to is a special construction to talk about the future and it is not a tense.
 
One tense does not always talk about one time.
 

 

There are 24 basic tenses in English language. For past and present, there are 2 simple tenses and 6 complex tenses (using auxiliary Verbs). To these, we can add 4 ‘modal tenses’ for the future (using modal auxiliary Verbs will/shall). This makes a total of 12 tenses in the active voice. Another 12 tenses exist in the passive voice.
 

The table below lists all the tense forms:
 
24 Tenses
Past
Present
Future*
ACTIVE
VOICE
Simple tenses
Simple Past
Simple Present
Simple Future
Complex tenses formed with auxiliary Verbs
Past Perfect
Present Perfect
Future Perfect
Past Continuous
Present Continuous
Future Continuous
Past Perfect
Continuous
Present Perfect
Continuous
Future Perfect
Continuous
PASSIVE
VOICE
Simple tenses
Simple Past
Simple Present
Simple Future
Complex tenses formed with auxiliary Verbs
Past Perfect
Present Perfect
Future Perfect
Past Continuous
Present Continuous
Future Continuous
Past Perfect
Continuous
Present Perfect
Continuous
Future Perfect
Continuous
 
*Technically, there are no future tenses in English. The word will is a modal auxiliary Verb and future tenses are sometimes called ‘modal tenses.’ The examples are included here for convenience and comparison.

The basic structure for a positive sentence is:
 
Subject + Auxiliary Verb + Main Verb
 
An auxiliary Verb is used in all tenses. (In the simple present and simple past tenses, the auxiliary Verb is usually suppressed for the affirmative, but it does exist for intensification.) The following table shows the 12 tenses for the Verb ‘to work’ in the active voice.
 
 
Structure
Past
Present
Future
Auxiliary
Main Verb
Simple
Normal
I worked
I work
I will work
Intensive
do
base
I did work
I do work
Perfect
have
Past participle
I had worked
I have worked
I will have worked
Continuous
be
Present participle (-ing)
I was working
I am working
I will be working
Perfect Continuous
have been
Present participle (-ing)
I had been working
I have been working
I will have been working




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