Verb Tenses

The Present Cluster of Active Verbs

Simple Present

  • Verb form: No ‘-s’ form or ‘-s’ form
  • Meaning: a habitual or repeating action; true now and always
  • Examples: I study English every day. Smoking causes health problems.

Present Progressive

  • Verb form: am/is/are + -ing form
  • Meaning: a current or temporary action
  • Examples: I am studying English today. The sun is shining.

Present Perfect

  • Verb form: has/have + past participle
  • Meaning: an action that began in the past but continues to be true or a past action (indefinite time) that could happen again
  • Examples: I have studied English since 2003. He has written five novels.

Present Perfect Progressive

  • Verb form: has/have been + -ing form
  • Meaning: an action that began in the past but is continuing without interruption up to now and likely to continue into the future
  • Examples: I have been studying English all morning. The global temperature has been slowly increasing since the 1980s.

Practice

Correct the following.

  1. The politicians are working on the plan this whole year.
  2. Most of the children in my country are wearing a uniform to school.
  3. He is working for Sony since he came to the United States.
  4. This is the first time that my brother is being in the hospital.
  5. Most people are doing exercises after work

The Past Cluster of Active Verbs

Simple Past

  • Verb form: regular verb + -ed
  • Meaning: a single past event
  • Examples: I ate dinner at 8 pm. Van Gogh moved to Arles in 1889.

Past Progressive

  • Verb form: was/were + -ing form
  • Meaning: a past action that was happening (when it was interrupted by another action)
  • Examples: I was eating dinner when you called. Van Gogh was living in Arles when Gauguin visited him.

Past Perfect

  • Verb form: had + past participle
  • Meaning: a past action that was completed before a second past action
  • Examples: I had eaten dinner before you called. When he moved to Aries, he had already met many French painters.

Past Perfect Progressive

  • Verb form: had been + -ing form
  • Meaning: an action that began in the past before a second past action (with emphasis on the duration of the action)
  • Examples: I had been eating dinner before you called. He had been paining for ten years before he died.

Practice

Correct the following.

  1. In 1977, Hong Kong become a part of China again.
  2. When we met, we do not live in this house.
  3. I waiting for the bus for almost 45 minutes when you arrived.
  4. I has work for the company for almost 20 years.
  5. When I ate dinner last night, my uncle called me.

The Future Cluster of Active Verbs

Simple Future

  • Verb form: will + verb (basic form)
  • Meaning: an event in the future, especially one that is scheduled or expresses a strong desire to do something
  • Examples: If the weather clears up soon, Flight 78 for Paris will depart from this gate about an hour from now. She will write to you next week.

Future Progressive

  • Verb form: will be + -ing form
  • Meaning: an action that will be taking place at some point in the future
  • Examples: If you call at 8 pm, I will be eating dinner, so please call before then. We will be writing our research report next Tuesday.

Future Perfect

  • Verb form: will have + past participle
  • Meaning: an action that will be finished by a specified time in the future
  • Examples: By the time that you are 50 years old, you will have visited 50 countries. He will have written the essay by tomorrow morning.

Future Perfect Progressive

  • Verb form: will have been + -ing form
  • Meaning: how long an action has been happening at a future point; focus is on the duration
  • Examples: By the time I see you again, I will have been working at this company for 30 years. By July 4, they will have been writing the report for five weeks.

Practice

Correct the following.

  1. Andrea will to study more if she has more free time.
  2. When you call tomorrow, I will study for my big test on Monday.
  3. I will walk from my house to the office before you leave your place.
  4. As of next Friday, I will work here for 20 years.
  5. When you call me, I will be pick you up.

References

Examples are adapted with modifications from:

Raimes, A. (2008). Grammar troublespots: A guide for student writers. Cambridge [etc.]: Cambridge University Press.

Folse, K. S., & Azar, B. S. (2016). Keys to teaching grammar to English language learners: A practical handbook.