You are on page 1of 7

English Tenses Examples

Explanation

Past
Simple Past
action that takes place once,
He played football every
never or several times
Tuesday.
actions that happen one after
He played football and then he
another
went home.
state
He loved football.
Past Progressive
action going on at that moment He was playing football.
actions taking place at the same He was playing football and she
time
was watching.
Past Perfect Simple
action taking place before a
He had won five matches until
certain moment in time;
that day.
emphasises the result
Past Perfect Progressive
action taking place before a
certain moment in time (and
He had been playing football for
beyond), emphasises the
ten years.
duration

[1]

Present
Simple Present

Future
Future I Simple
He will / is going to play football
He plays football every Tuesday.
every Tuesday.
He plays football and then he
He will play football and then he
goes home.
will go home.
He loves football.
He will love football.
Present Progressive
Future I Progressive
He is playing football.
He will be playing football.
He is playing football and she is He will be playing football and
watching.
she will be watching.
Present Perfect Simple
Future II Simple
He has won five matches so far.

He will have won five matches


by then.

Present Perfect Progressive Future II Progressive


He has been playing football for He will have been playing
ten years.
football for ten years.

Table of English Tenses


tense

Affirmative/Negative/Qu
estion

Use

Simple Present

A: He speaks.
N: He does not speak.
Q: Does he speak?

Present Progressive

A: He is speaking.
N: He is not speaking.
Q: Is he speaking?

Simple Past

A: He spoke.
N: He did not speak.
Q: Did he speak?

Past Progressive

Present Perfect Simple

A: He was speaking.
N: He was not speaking.
Q: Was he speaking?

A: He has spoken.
N: He has not spoken.
Q: Has he spoken?

[2]

action in the present taking place


once, never or several times
facts
actions taking place one after
another
action set by a timetable or
schedule
action taking place in the moment
of speaking
action taking place only for a
limited period of time
action arranged for the future
action in the past taking place
once, never or several times
actions taking place one after
another
action taking place in the middle
of another action
action going on at a certain time
in the past
actions taking place at the same
time
action in the past that is
interrupted by another action
putting emphasis on the result
action that is still going on
action that stopped recently
finished action that has an
influence on the present
action that has taken place once,
never or several times before the

Signal Words
always, every , never,
normally, often, seldom,
sometimes, usually
if sentences type I (If I
talk, )

at the moment, just, just


now, Listen!, Look!, now,
right now
yesterday, 2 minutes ago,
in 1990, the other day, last
Friday
if sentence type II (If I
talked, )

when, while, as long as

already, ever, just, never,


not yet, so far, till now, up
to now

moment of speaking

[3]

Present Perfect
Progressive

A: He has been speaking.


N: He has not been
speaking.
Q: Has he been speaking?

Past Perfect
Simple

A: He had spoken.
N: He had not spoken.
Q: Had he spoken?

Past Perfect
Progressive

Future I Simple

A: He had been speaking.


N: He had not been
speaking.
Q: Had he been speaking?
A: He will speak.
N: He will not speak.
Q: Will he speak?

Future I Simple
(going to)

A: He is going to speak.
N: He is not going to
speak.
Q: Is he going to speak?

Future I
Progressive

A: He will be speaking.
N: He will not be speaking.

Q: Will he be speaking?

Future II Simple
Future II

A: He will have spoken.


N: He will not have
spoken.
Q: Will he have spoken?
A: He will have been

putting emphasis on the course or duration


(not the result)
action that recently stopped or is still going
on
finished action that influenced the present
action taking place before a certain time in
the past
sometimes interchangeable with past
perfect progressive
putting emphasis only on the fact (not the
duration)
action taking place before a certain time in
the past
sometimes interchangeable with past
perfect simple
putting emphasis on the duration or course
of an action
action in the future that cannot be
influenced
spontaneous decision
assumption with regard to the future

all day, for 4 years, since 1993, how


long?, the whole week

already, just, never, not yet, once, until


that day
if sentence type III (If I had talked, )

for, since, the whole day, all day

In a year, next , tomorrow


If-sentence Typ I (If you ask her, she will
help you.)
assumption: I think, probably, perhaps

decision made for the future


conclusion with regard to the future

in one year, next week, tomorrow

action that is going on at a certain time in


the future
action that is sure to happen in the near
future

in one year, next week, tomorrow

action that will be finished at a certain time


by Monday, in a week
in the future

action taking place before a certain time in for , the last couple of hours, all day
[4]

Progressive

Conditional I
Simple
Conditional I
Progressive

Conditional II
Simple

Conditional II
Progressive

speaking.
N: He will not have been
speaking.
Q: Will he have been
speaking?
A: He would speak.
N: He would not speak.
Q: Would he speak?
A: He would be speaking.
N: He would not be
speaking.
Q: Would he be speaking?
A: He would have spoken.
N: He would not have
spoken.
Q: Would he have spoken?
A: He would have been
speaking.
N: He would not have been
speaking.
Q: Would he have been
speaking?

the future
putting emphasis on the course of an
action

long

action that might take place

If sentences type II
(If I were you, I would go home.)

action that might take place


putting emphasis on the course / duration
of the action

action that might have taken place in the


past

action that might have taken place in the


past
puts emphasis on the course / duration of
the action

[5]

If sentences type III


(If I had seen that, I would have helped.)

English Tenses Graphic Comparison


Have a look at the time line, it might help you understand when to use which tense. As there is a similarity between past, present and
future tenses, there are just a few rules to keep in mind.
If you know how to use the present progressive correctly to express present actions, you will as well be able to use the past progressive
correctly to express past actions.

Legend
action that takes place once, never or several times

moment in
time

actions that happen one after another

action taking place before a certain moment in t

Result

actions that suddenly take place


action that started before a certain moment and lasts

beyond that moment


period of

action taking place before a certain moment in t

Course /

actions taking place at the same time

[6]

puts emphasis on the result

puts emphasis on the course or duration of the a

time

Duration

[7]