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Present Tense With Examples | Tenses in English | Tenses With Examples

What is Tense What is Past Tense Types of Tenses Learn All  Tenses With Examples 16 Tense Structure

Present Tense With Examples | All Tenses With Examples

There are 16 tenses in English and, if you want to be able to speak fluently, you need to know them all. Here, you're going to learn about the past, present, future, and conditional tenses and see lots of examples so you'll be confident when you need to use them.

Each of these tenses has a simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous form, making the 16 English tenses.

Past Tenses, Present Tenses, Conditional Tenses, Future Tenses

Tenses Summary 16 Tenses
  • Present Tenses Summary
  • Present Simple
  • Present Continuous
  • Present Perfect
  • Present Perfect Continuous
  • Past Tenses Summary
  • Past Simple
  • Past Continuous
  • Past Perfect
  • Past Perfect Continuous
  • Future Tenses Summary
  • Future Simple
  • Future Continuous
  • Future Perfect
  • Future Perfect Continuous
  • Conditional Tenses Summary
  • Conditional Simple
  • Conditional Continuous
  • Conditional Perfect
  • Conditional Perfect Continuous

1  The Present Tenses

There are four present tenses: the present simple, the present continuous, the present perfect, and the present perfect continuous. Let's start with the tense native speakers use about 50% of the time in English: the present simple

The present simple 

We use the present simple to talk about facts and general statements and to tell people about our habits. We also use it to talk about scheduled events in the future, like plane or train times. 

The structure of the present simple is subject + base form of the verb except in the third person singular when we add -s. Be is also an exception and it has its own forms in the present simple: I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, they are.

Here are some examples of the present simple: 
  • I am a woman. 
  • My name is Lucy. 
  • I live in England. 
  • The train to London leaves at 8 pm. 
  • Water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius. 
  • Helen loves dogs. 
  • Will goes to the gym three times a week.
The present continuous 

The structure of the present continuous is subject + be + verbing. You can use the present continuous to talk about things that are happening at the moment of speaking. Be careful! We can’t use state verbs in the present continuous tense. These are verbs like have, want, love and hate

Here are some examples: 
  • I am eating breakfast. 
  • They are baking cookies. 
  • It is snowing
We also use the present continuous tense to talk about things that we think are temporary, for example: 
  • James is living in Manchester. 
  • They are working from home at the moment. 
And, you can use the present continuous to talk about arrangements in the future. These are plans that we have with another person. Take a look at these examples.
  • Sarah is meeting her parents for dinner tomorrow. 
  • I am having my hair cut on Monday. (the arrangement is with the hairdresser) 
The present perfect 

There are three main ways we use the present perfect in English and they’re all very useful. First, here's the structure of the present perfect: subject + have/has + past participle. Here are the three ways we use this tense:

1. To talk about things that started in the past and continue to the present. These are unfinished actions and we often say how long or when they started.
  • I have lived in the UK all my life. 
  • She has been at university since 2020. 
  • We have been married for about 35 years. 
2. To talk about our experiences up to the present time. With this tense, we don’t say exactly when something happened. We are simply telling someone about our life’s experiences. 
  • She has been to Canada three times. 
  • We have met the Queen. 
  • I have read all the Harry Potter books
3. To talk about past actions that have consequences in the present.
  • I have eaten breakfast so I’m not hungry. 
  • Mike has lost his keys so he is going to be late for work. 
  • We have left our passports at home and we can’t board the plane. 
The present perfect continuous 

We use the present perfect continuous to talk about something that started in the past and continues to the present. This might sound similar to the present perfect, and it is, but there are a few key differences. One difference, of course, is the structure. We make this tense with: subject + have/has + been + verb-ing.

With the present perfect continuous, we often talk about things we have done uninterrupted and that haven’t finished. We can also use this tense to emphasise how long an action has been happening:
  • I have been watching that new series on TV (and you have not finished).
  • Ellen has been replying to emails for two hours already.
This tense is also often used with the words recently and lately and to talk about things that have just happened. Here are a couple of examples:
  • I have been practising my football skills a lot lately. 
  • Oh look! It’s been snowin!

2 The Past Tenses 

We use the past tenses to talk about things that happened before the present. There are four past tenses and again, we're going to start with the one native speakers use the most often. 

The past simple 

We use the past simple to talk about events that happened before the present moment. These must be finished events or actions and we often say when they happened, though we don’t have to. The structure of this tense is: subject + past simple

Here are some examples of the past simple: 
  • I went to bed at 10 pm last night 
  • Dennis ate a whole box of chocolates for breakfast. 
  • My mum bought me a birthday present. 
  • They played tennis at school.

The past continuous
The structure of the past continuous is subject + was/were +verb-ing. Let's look at three ways we can use this tense:

1. To say what was happening at a specific moment in the past, like this:
  • Tom was cooking dinner yesterday evening. 
  • At 2 pm, I was waiting for the bus. 
2. To give background information about something:
  • Will was speaking to me while I was recording a video. 
  • It was snowing when I went outside. 

3. To say an ongoing action was interrupted by another action. In this case, it’s usually paired with a clause in the past simple. Look at these examples:
  • We were eating dinner when he arrived. 
  • They were chatting about their holiday when Ben called them. 
  • People were shouting and singing when I arrived at the party. 
The past perfect

The past perfect tense is used to speak about events that happened before another event or up to a certain time in the past. It’s often used with the past simple. The structure is subject + had + past participle

Read through these examples:
  • I had lived in London for 20 years by the time I moved to France.
  • When I arrived at the stop, the bus had already left.
  • She had worked at the company for five years when it closed.
  • You had travelled to ten countries before your second birthday!
The past perfect continuous

The structure of this tense is subject + had been + verb-ing.

The past perfect and the past perfect continuous are often used interchangeably by native English speakers. There’s no difference in overall meaning between these two sentences, for example:
  • I had worked there for five years when the company closed. 
  • I had been working there for five years when the company closed.
However, if you want to emphasise the length of time, it is better to use the continuous form.
  • She had been asking the students to get ready for fifteen minutes before they decided to listen to her.
  • They had been walking for hours when they finally decided they were lost and called for help 
If you are talking about an action in the past that continued up to a certain time and continued after it, you should use the past perfect continuous. 
  • I had been writing my book for almost a year when the publisher told me we finally had a deal.
Or, if you’re talking about a repeated action in the past up to a certain point, the continuous tense should be used.
  • Dan had been training for the marathon every day until he broke his ankle. 
  • The orchestra had been practising for months before the concert happened. 

3 The Future Tenses

The future simple

The easiest way to talk about the future is to use the verb will. The structure of the future simple is subject + will + base form of the verb

We can use will to talk about things we think will happen in the future:
  • I think it will rain tomorrow.
  • I believe she will come.
To make offers or promises:
  • I will help you carry those boxes.
  • Richard will call you tomorrow. 
We also use will to talk about facts in the future:
  • It will be our 20th wedding anniversary next year.
  • Our house will be 150 years old soon.
The future continuous 

This tense is used to talk about actions that will be in progress at a certain time in the future. These actions will start and end in the future but we don’t know when. Or, we use the future continuous to talk about a future action that will happen over some time and not simply in an instant.

The structure of the future continuous is subject + will be + verb-ing.
  • I will be eating dinner at 8 pm tomorrow. (You don’t know what time I’ll start or finish my dinner but you know what I’ll be doing at 8 pm.)
  • They’ll be playing tennis tomorrow.
  • We’ll be meeting with the shareholders tomorrow.
  • What will you be doing at 9 pm this evening?

The future perfect

We use the future perfect to talk about actions or states that will be completed before a certain point in the future. We often use time clauses like by or when I’m older with this tense.

The structure of the future perfect is subject + will have + past participle. Here are some examples of this tense:
  • They will have been married for forty years this time next week.
  • I will have retired by the time I’m 55. 
  • You will have finished that popcorn before the film starts!
  • Come over at 9 pm. My parents will have left by then.
The future perfect continuous 

This tense describes actions that will be continuing at a certain point in the future. When you use this tense, you’re thinking about the duration of that action up to a specific point in time. The structure is subject + will have been + verb-ing.

Let’s look at some examples:
  • I will have been living in Cardiff for three years in August.
  • When I retire next month, I’ll have been working here for 16 years.
  • We’ll have been walking for six hours by the time we finish this hike.
  • They’ll have been travelling continuously for seven years in June.
Like with most other continuous tenses, you can’t use state verbs in the future perfect continuous. You should use the future perfect simple instead.
  • I will have had my cat for five years by Christmas.
You also can’t talk about a finished action using the future perfect continuous tense. You can only use the future perfect:
  • She will have finished all those chocolates by the time you arrive!

4 The Conditional Tenses 

Finally, we have the conditional tenses! These are the last group of tenses we're going to learn.

The conditional simple  
The first type of conditional sentence we’re looking at is the conditional simple. It is formed with subject + would + base form of the verb. Like all the conditional tenses, we use this tense to talk about hypothetical actions or ideas.
Look at these examples:
  • I would travel in first class.
  • She would walk to work. 
Conditional simple sentences are usually coupled with another idea as they don’t have a lot of meaning on their own. These sentences have clearer meanings:
  • I would travel in first class if I won the lottery.
  • She would walk to work if she lived closer.
  • He wouldn’t be here if he didn’t want to be.
  • Would you live abroad if you had the chance?
The conditional continuous 

When we use the conditional continuous, we put the focus on the duration of a hypothetical action. This means we use this tense to talk about longer actions or when we want people to focus on how long something would take. We also use this tense to talk about things we would hypothetically be doing right now.

The structure is subject + would be + verb-ing.
  • I would be writing emails if I was at work.
  • Robin would be walking his dog now if he hadn’t broken his ankle.
  • They would be sitting together normally but they had an argument.
  • I would be studying right now if I were sensible.
  • We would be watching the game but our grandchildren are here.
The conditional perfect 

When we want to talk about changing the past, we use the conditional perfect tense. Of course, we can’t really change the past so this is a hypothetical tense to talk about what we would have done.

The structure is subject + would have + past participle. Here are some examples:
  • I would have told John not to come.
  • Alan would have bought that house.
  • Kim would have cooked a bigger meal.
  • We would have picked you up from the station if we’d known you were coming.
  • They would have asked for help if they’d realised how long it would take.
The conditional perfect continuous 

Here we are - the final tense we’re looking at in this blog: the conditional perfect continuous. We use this tense to talk about the hypothetical results of actions in the past.

The structure of this tense is subject + would have been + verbing. Let’s look at a few examples of this final tense:
  • I would have been wearing my red dress if I had washed it.
  • They wouldn’t have been swimming in that lake if they had known there were sharks there.
  • He would have been working in Dubai if he hadn’t taken the job in London.
  • He would have been sleeping when we called.
  • Becky wouldn’t have been working today if the boss hadn’t got ill.
Put the words in brackets into the correct tense.

The present tenses
1. I________ (learn) English right now.
2. I’m not hungry because I ________ (eat) lunch.
3. My name ________ (be) Andy.
4. I’m so tired! I ________ (work) all day!

The past tenses
1. When she finally arrived, I ________ (wait) for almost an hour.
2. I ________ on holiday to France last year.
3. Marco ________ (talk) to his mum when I met him.
4. Claire ________ (drink) all her water before she started the hike

The future tenses 
1. I think it ________ (rain) tomorrow so we should stay at home. 
2. I ________ (study) for five years by the time I finally graduate. 
3. Ollie ________ (finish) his project by Wednesday. 
4. This time next week, I ________ (sit) on a beach in the Caribbean. 

The conditional tenses 
1. I ________ (cook) a vegetarian meal if I had known Dave was coming.
2. Katie ________ (cycle) to work if she lived nearer to the office.
3. They ________ (live) in New Zealand now if they had got the job.
4. We ________ (work) today if they hadn’t given us all a day off.

Present Tense With Examples | All Tenses With Examples

Source From English With Lucy


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