We use verbs to talk about actions and states. Verbs tenses allow us to talk about the time when the action or state takes place.All main verbs have two simple tenses, the present simple and the past simple.
Tense - Easy Learning Grammar
|present simple||past simple|
AspectThe compound tenses of the verb express two aspects – continuous and perfect.
- The term aspect is used to talk about continuing actions versus completed actions or states. Simple tenses do not have aspect.
|I am walking|
she is singing
they are coming
you are bringing
|I was walking|
she was singing
they were coming
you were bringing
|I have walked|
she has sung
they have come
you have brought
|I had walked|
she had sung
they had come
you had brought
- the continuous nature of an action (using a form of the auxiliary be + -ing). This is called the continuous aspect.
- I am still studying French.
- He was living in London all that year.
- James is helping out with the children this week.
- Sara and Scott were looking for a new flat at the time.
- the completion of an action (using a form of the auxiliary have + a past participle, usually -ed). This is called the perfect aspect.
- I have been a teacher for four years.
- He had lived in London for a year before coming to Sussex.
- James has helped out before.
- Sara and Scott had found their flat by then.
- I have been studying French for four years.
- I had been living in London for four years when I met him.
- James has been helping us this week.
Simple tensesSimple tenses show moments in time, timeless states, and habitual or repetitive actions.
- It tastes good.
- Julie keeps a diary.
- Adrian went home at midnight.
- She heard a strange noise in the night.
- Rob usually walks to school.
- Yesterday he went by car.
Continuous tensesContinuous tenses show duration or continuity.
- It is raining hard this morning.
- It was raining when we came out of school yesterday.
- I’m having dinner. Can I call you back?
- He was listening to the radio when he heard the news.
Perfect tensesThe present perfect tense shows that an action is completed but that it still has some importance in the present time.
- Ken has walked all the way from the station. (…and he’s tired.)
- He has never visited me. (…and I’m feeling neglected.)
- She has missed the train. (That’s why she’s not here.)
- He told us that he had tried it before.
- I had never been climbing before our activity holiday last year.
- She was late because she had missed her train.
Perfect continuous tensesPerfect continuous tenses show duration, completion, and importance in the present time.
- I have been working hard in the garden all day.
- My mother has been helping me.
- My sisters have been riding all day.
- I had been working in Italy that summer.
- Some of us had been waiting for two hours when the doctor appeared.
Other verb formsOther verb combinations are used for positive or negative statements, or to express degrees of time and probability.
- Do you like espresso coffee?
- I don’t like fried food.
- Could I have a coke, please?
- You will be in Edinburgh within two hours.
- They will probably meet us at the station.