The 12 Basic English Verb Tenses | Grammar | Vocab Quiz

The 12 Basic English Verb Tenses | Grammar | Vocab Quiz



The 12 Basic English Verb Tenses


Before we get started with the tenses let’s recall the definition of the verb.


What is a verb?

A verb is a word that denotes an action or a state of being. Verb tenses are usually referred to in three main time frames: Past, Present, and Future. Moreover, they further classified into four aspects: Simple, Continuous, Perfect, and Perfect Continuous.

With that, we are providing 12 Basic Verb Tenses with Examples for you to understand them more clearly. Tense as a grammatical term expresses time. The meaning of the sentence will be clear only if the right tense is utilized.

The links below are to lessons for each of the basic English verb tenses. For each tense we look at:

Structure: How do we make the tense?

Use: When and why do we use the tense?


Let’s dive deep into it.


1. Simple Present Tense:

Simple present tense conveys action in the present. It is applied to show a habitual action or general truth. The Simple Present tense is the most basic tense in English and uses the base form of the verb. The only change from the base is the addition of s for third person singular.

For instance,

  • I cook every day.
  • He drinks tea at breakfast
  • She gets up early every day


2. Present Continuous Tense:

Present continuous tense is used to delineate an action that is taking place at the current time of speaking. It is also used to depict something that we have arranged to do in the future.

The structure of this tense is is/am/are + main verb + ing.

For example,

  • The boys are playing cricket on the ground.
  • The train is going to arrive at 6:00 tomorrow morning.


3. Present Perfect Tense:

The present perfect tense is used when we have to describe an action that has been completed in the immediate past or that occurred at an indefinite time in the past, or that began in the past but continues in the present.

The structure of this tense is:  has/have + main verb + ed or en.

For instance,

  • Have you ever been to America?


4. Present Perfect Continuous Tense:

Present perfect continuous tense depicts an action that started in the past, is continuing at present, and may continue in the future.

The structure of this tense is: has/have + been + main verb + ing.

For instance,

  • It has been raining for the past two days.
  • She has been watching TV for the last four hours.


5. Simple Past Tense:

Simple past tense refers to an action that was done in the past. Use this tense to show an event or action that took place at a specific time in the past and now it’s over.

For instance,

  • worked in the IT sector.
  • The milk used to cost 10 rupees per liter some years ago.


6. Past Continuous Tense:

Past continuous tense describes in progress action in the past when another past action takes place.

The structure of this tense is was/were + main verb + ing

For instance,

  • Alex was playing video games when his mother arrived home.
  • Seema was waiting at the airport when her brother got off the plane.


7. Past Perfect Tense:

Past perfect tense refers to an action that leads up to another in the past. The more contemporary past event is expressed in the simple past, and the earlier past event is expressed in the past perfect.

The structure of this tense is had + main verb + ed or en.

For instance,

  • Richard had lived in Europe, before he moved to Australia.
  • He had visited his sister before he went for the study in the USA.


8. Past Perfect Continuous Tense:

Past perfect continuous tense describes an ongoing action in the past that is completed before another action takes place in the past. 

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

For instance,

  • She had been studying all day.
  • Lily had been working in Google for three years when she lost her job.


9. Simple Future Tense:

Simple future tense refers to an action that will take place in the future. Generally, it is used to describe a prediction or intention.

For instance,

  • am going to move to the USA to pursue my masters.
  • She will help me tomorrow to complete my assignments.


10. Future Continuous Tense:

Future continuous tense describes an action that is taking place in the present and will continue taking place in the future also.

The structure of this tense is will be/shall be + main verb + ing.

For instance,

  • will be studying tomorrow.
  • We shall not be watching a movie today.


11. Future Perfect Tense:

The future perfect tense is used to describe an action that precedes another in the future.

The structure of this tense is will/shall + have + main verb + ed or en.

For instance,

  • By the end of this year, the president will have established new industries in the country.
  • They will have finished their work by tomorrow.


12. Future Perfect Continuous Tense:

Future perfect continuous tense refers to an ongoing action that will take place prior to a certain time in the future.

The structure of this tense is will have + been + main verb + ing.

For instance,

  • will not have been staying in India by next year.
  • He will have been dancing for two hours.

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