What are verb tenses?

What is a verb?

A verb is an action that is taking place in a sentence. Here are a couple of examples in the present tense and the past tense.

I play the guitar.

  1. I = subject,
  2. play = verb in the present tense
  3. the guitar = object

I played the guitar.

  1. I = subject
  2. played = verb in past tense
  3. the guitar = object

What do verb tenses tell us?

What are verb tenses? 2

Verb tenses  help us understand when an action in a sentence is taking place.

Past, present, and future are the three main verb tenses in English. They help us understand when the action is happening.

English has a number of tenses to tell us more about ‘when’ an action took place.  Here is a short list of the verb tenses and how they are formed. Each one is explained in detail in the ‘Verbs’ section of the English4.Today Online English Grammar.do

Present tenses

Simple presentShe wants a drink.
Present continuousThey are walking home.

Past tenses

Simple pastPeter lived in China in  2015.
Past continuouswas reading when she arrived.

Perfect tenses

Present Perfecthave lived here since 2017.
Present perfect continuoushave been living here for years.
Past perfectWe had been to see her several times before she visited us.
Past perfect continuousHe had been watching her for some time when she turned and smiled.
Future perfectWe will have arrived in the States by the time you get this letter.
Future perfect continuousBy the end of your course, you will have been studying for five years.

Future tenses

Simple futureThey will go to Italy next week.
Future continuouswill be travelling by train.

Conditional tenses

Present conditional: If he had the money he would go
Present continuous conditional: He would be getting up now if he was in Australia.
Perfect conditional: She would have visited me if she had had time.
Perfect continuous conditional: I would have been playing tennis if I hadn’t broken my arm.


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