Start with English: English tenses

Hello, ABA friends!

When learning a new language, one of the most important things to remember are the tenses.

What does the word “tense” mean? The word “tense” is derived from the Latin word “tempus” which means time so when we refer to tenses, we refer to verb structures which indicate and talk about time, whether it be the present, past or future.

We are going to look at the three basic English tenses and subcategories so you can learn and practise them. They are:

  • The Present Tense
  • The Past Tense
  • The Future Tense

As you will soon see for yourself, each tense has a simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous form.

Below you will see an example of these subcategories and their main usage in English. Please bear in mind that most of these subcategories are used to indicate many different things in English.

The Present Tense

Present Simple 

The present simple is used for established facts, habitual actions and routines.


“I take the same bus to work every day.”

Present Continuous 

The present continuous is used for something that is happening as we speak.


“She is cooking dinner for us.”

Present Perfect

The present perfect is used for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do.


“He has written five books so far. He’s working on a new one at the moment.”

Present Perfect Continuous 

The present perfect continuous is used for actions that started in the past and continue in the present.


“Mike has been teaching for five years.”

The Past Tense

Past Simple 

The past simple is used for completed actions in the past.


“Kevin lived in Japan for seven years.”

Past Continuous 

The past continuous is used for interrupted actions in the past.


“I was cleaning the house when I found some money under the sofa.”

Past Perfect

The past perfect is used to express the idea that something occurred before another action in the past.


“Jane had already cooked dinner when they arrived.”

Past Perfect Continuous 

The past perfect continuous is used to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past.


“I had been studying all week when I finally gave up.”

The Future Tense

Future Simple with “will”  

The future simple with “will” is used for spontaneous decisions.


“I will call you back later.”

Future Simple with “be going to”

The future simple with “be going to” expresses plans and intentions.


“I am going to make a cake for my husband’s birthday.”

Future Continuous 

The future continuous is used to say what we will be doing at a specific time in the future.


“Don’t call me at seven. I will be having dinner with my family at that time.”

Future Perfect 

The future perfect expresses actions completed by a specified time in the future.


“By June this year, we will have been married for five years.”

Future Perfect Continuous 

The future perfect continuous is used to indicate that a longer action in the future will be interrupted by a shorter action in the future.


“You will have been waiting for more than two hours when your bus arrives.”

And there you have it: a quick summary of the three main tenses in English! Practise them a little every day.

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  1. I have found this lesson very clear and usefull.
    thank’s a lot

  2. Congratulations, Kate, for this lesson!

  3. The above explanations are simple and clear. And I find it really useful. Thank you so much.

  4. Ma il blog con la traduzione in italiano non c’è?

  5. Great Information on Tenses… Thanks for sharing it. Can anyone please tell me how to proper use of preposition. I often forget to proper use of preposition. I am thankful to get this informative knowledge.

  6. Hi, my name is Marco.
    I’ve been studying since january of this year, but now it’s the first time I found this and I want to say that I really loved it! Thanks for all this tools that help to improve the English.

  7. I speak türkish

  8. türkçe biliyormusun

  9. Walther Rivas lopez

    Hello there: I am walther Rivas
    What can i say?, I just started to study with you almost two months ago and i found this. ( is such a useful tool), I really like it , I wish i have more time to squeeze it. thanks a lot

  10. Tenses and grammar is what makes English beautiful. I have witnessed students (non-native) while learning, trying to speak and since I am good with English (my second language) I find their mistakes funny, but I encourage them to keep practicing and talking.

    • George Talbot

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. You make a good point when you say that it is important to keep practising. We have to use it or we lose it.

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