Verb Tense



The tense of a verb indicates time for an action or condition. 


Simple present tense verbs express actions in the present, express reoccurring or habitual actions, or indicate a general truth.


     Research shows that one's level of education impacts his or her earning potential.


       Tabitha eats healthily and exercises regularly.


       He is the president of the company.


       Kenyatta and Roberto are creative and funny.


Simple past tense verbs express actions or conditions that began and ended in the past.


       Yesterday, Tabitha ate healthily and exercised.


       From 1998 to 2009, he was the president of the company.


       Kenyatta and Roberto were creative and funny in the skit they performed.


The simple present tense and simple past tense are the only verb tenses that are marked by a main verb alone.  All other verb tenses require auxiliary verbs.


Simple future tense verbs express actions that will occur or conditions that will be true in the future.  The simple future tense is created with the auxiliary verb will plus a present tense verb.


           Seng will deliver his speech tomorrow.


           They will go for a run after work.


           The weather will be nice tomorrow.


           Dr. Chang will be the new principal. 

                      (Notice that in the simple future tense, am, is, and are become will be.)


Present-perfect tense verbs express actions or conditions that began in the past and continue in the present.  They also express past actions that ended at an unspecified time before the present.  The present perfect tense is created with the auxiliary verbhas or have plus a  past participle.    


         She has worked for 3M since 2004.


         Ivan and Crystal have known about the problem for a long time.


         I have seen the movie six times.


Past-perfect tense verbs express actions that began and ended in the past like simple past tense verbs do.  However, the past perfect tense indicates that an action ended before another past action.  The past perfect tense is created with the auxiliary verb had plus apast participle.


           Theo sold all the jewelry that he had made.


           Ivan and Crystal had known about the problem for a long time before they called an electrician.


           I had seen the movie six times when I lost the dvd. 


Future-perfect tense verbs express actions that will have occurred or conditions that will have been at a specific time in the future.  They can also express actions that will have occurred or conditions that will have been before another future action or condition.  The future perfect tense is created with the auxiliary verbswill have plus a past participle.


             Raul will have lived in Wisconsin for ten years when he moves back to Kentucky. 


             By next week, the builders will have finished the renovation.


             Next year, she will have been a police officer for twenty five years.


             By the time their youngest child is in college, Leticia and Alfie will have been together for thirty years.


Present-progressive tense verbs express continuing actions that are occurring now or express a continuing current condition.  The present progressive tense is created with the auxiliary present tense be (am, is, are) plus a present participle (verb with an ing ending).

         I am studying for my exam.


            The scientist is conducting an experiment.


            Rachelle and Tom are hosting a holiday party.


            She is being irrational.


Past-progressive tense verbs express continuing actions that were happening at some point in the past or express a continuing past condition.  The past progressive tense is created with the auxiliary past tense be (was, were) plus a present participle (verb with an ing ending).


            I was studying for my exam last night.


            We were beginning to think that you would not show up.


            Before dinner, Maggie was playing her guitar.


            John and Brian were being disruptive in class yesterday.


Future-progressive tense verbs express continuing actions that will be happening at some point in the future.  The future progressive tense is created with the auxiliary verbs will be plus a present participle (verb with an ing ending).


            I will be studying for my exam all night.


            Tomorrow, Maggie will be performing at a local coffee shop.


            Leticia's and Alfie's youngest child will be attending the University of Chicago next year.


Present-perfect progressive tense verbs express continuing actions that have recently been finished or that began in the past and continue now.  The present perfect-progressive tense is created with the auxiliary verbs  has been or have been  plus a present participle (verb with an ing ending). 


              I have been studying for my exam.


              Lizzy has just been swimming, and her hair is wet.


              Susan and Jacob have been working on their project all day.


              He has recentlybeen traveling, so he has a lot to catch up on this weekend.



Past-perfect progressive verbs express continuing actions that ended at some point in the past or that ended before another past action.  The past perfect-progressive tense is created with the auxiliary verbs  had been plus a present participle (verb with an ing ending).  


           I had been studying last night in the library when the fire alarm went off.


               Susan and Jacob had been working on their project earlier.


               Leo had been jogging regularly, but he stopped because the weather turned cold.



Future-perfect progressive tense verbs express continuing actions that will be completed in the future.  The future perfect-progressive tense is created with the auxiliary verbs  will have been plus a present participle (verb with an ing ending).  


              I will have been studying for seven straight hours when I go to class to take the test.


              Scientists will have been researching the disease for an unknown number of years when they finally


                         discover a cure.


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