English Usage & Grammar Notes

March 31, 2006

Verb Tenses (1)

Filed under: Uncategorized — hkeol @ 1:13 am

In English, there are three basic tenses: present, past, and future. Each has a perfect form, indicating completed action; each has a progressive form, indicating ongoing action; and each has a perfect progressive form, indicating ongoing action that will be completed at some definite time. Here is a list of examples of these tenses and their definitions:

Simple Forms Progressive Forms Perfect Forms Perfect Progressive Forms
Present take/s am/is/are taking have/has taken have/has been taking
Past took was/were taking had taken had been taking
Future will/shall take will be taking will have taken will have been taking

Simple Forms

Present Tense

Present tense expresses an unchanging, repeated, or reoccurring action or situation that exists only now. It can also represent a widespread truth.

Example Meaning
The mountains are tall and white. Unchanging action
Every year, the school council elects new members. Recurring action
Pb is the chemical symbol for lead. Widespread truth

Past Tense

Past tense expresses an action or situation that was started and finished in the past. Most past tense verbs end in -ed. The irregular verbs have special past tense forms which must be memorized.

Example Form
W.W.II ended in 1945. Regular -ed past
Ernest Hemmingway wrote "The Old Man and the Sea." Irregular form

Future Tense

Future tense expresses an action or situation that will occur in the future. This tense is formed by using will/shall with the simple form of the verb.

The speaker of the House will finish her term in May of 1998.

The future tense can also be expressed by using am, is, or are with going to.

The surgeon is going to perform the first bypass in Minnesota.

We can also use the present tense form with an adverb or adverbial phrase to show future time.

The president speaks tomorrow. (Tomorrow is a future time adverb.)


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