Do Only Verbs Have Tenses?

Yes, only verbs have tenses. But there are a few important things to remember:
Do Only Verbs Have Tenses?

1) A helping verb is a verb that is used together with the main verb of the sentence to show the tense.

For example, in the sentence "I am eating a sandwich," the helping verb "am" is used together with the main verb "eating" to express the tense.

The helping verb "am" shows that the action of eating is happening in the present, and that it is still ongoing.

2) Verbs can also be used without a helping verb to show tense.

For example, in the sentence "I eat sandwiches every day," the verb "eat" expresses the tense. It shows that the action of eating happens in the present.

3) Gerunds and infinitives are verb forms that can be used in a sentence as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. They themselves do not change to show tense.

For example, in the sentence "I like eating sandwiches," the gerund "eating" does not show tense. It simply acts as a noun, expressing the action of eating. The verb "like" is used to express the tense in this sentence.


Remember:

Gerunds and infinitives are verb forms that can be used in a sentence as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.


Gerunds
are verbs that end in "-ing" and are used as nouns.


Examples:

  • "Swimming is my favorite activity." (The gerund "swimming" is the subject of the sentence and functions as a noun.)
  • "Reading is good for the mind."
  • "Skiing is a popular winter sport."
  • "Running is a great way to stay in shape."
  • "I enjoy cooking." (The gerund "cooking" is the object of the verb "enjoy" and functions as a noun.)
  • "Let's go fishing." (The gerund "fishing" is the direct object of the verb "go" and functions as a noun.)
  • "Leon hates eating vegetables." (The gerund "eating" is the object of the verb "hates" and functions as a noun.)


Infinitives
are the basic forms of verbs, and they are used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.


Here are some examples of infinitives used as nouns:

  • "To swim is my goal." (The infinitive "to swim" is used as the subject of the sentence and functions as a noun.)
  • "I want to cook dinner." (The infinitive "to cook" is used as the object of the verb "want" and functions as a noun.)

Here are some examples of infinitives used as adjectives:

  • "She is the person to talk to about this." (The infinitive "to talk" is used to modify the noun "person" and functions as an adjective.)
  • "This is the book to read." (The infinitive "to read" is used to modify the noun "book" and functions as an adjective.)

Here are some examples of infinitives used as adverbs:

  • "I need to go home now." (The infinitive "to go" is used to modify the verb "need" and functions as an adverb.)
  • "He decided to stay home." (The infinitive "to stay" is used to modify the verb "decided" and functions as an adverb.)

To express different tenses in sentences with an infinitive or a gerund, we use a normal verb or a main verb + helping verb.

Examples:

  • "I will need to go home soon." (The form "will need" indicates the simple future tense. The infinitive "to go" itself does not change.)
  • "I wanted to go home." (The form "wanted" indicates the simple past tense. The infinitive "to go" itself does not change.)
  • "He wants to go home now." (The form "want"s indicates the simple present tense. The infinitive "to go" itself does not change.)
  • "Jane's driving was excellent." (The form "was" indicates the simple past tense. The gerund "driving" itself does not change.)
  • "Will you enjoy cooking dinner with us?" (The form "will" and "enjoy" indicates the simple future tense. The gerund "cooking" itself does not change.)
  • "I love talking to my friends." (The form "love" indicates the simple present tense. The gerund "talking" itself does not change.)


So, to answer the question: Yes, only verbs have tenses. This includes normal verbs and helping verbs, but it does not include gerunds and infinitives.

This is why it is so important to learn all of the different verb forms and tenses. It can help you express yourself with much more precision.

At Really Learn English, we have resources to help you understand all English tenses and use them fluently. These are the ultimate resources to guarantee confidence when using all of the various tenses in English. Check them out:

Resources to Learn and Practice All English Tenses

English Verb Tenses