English Verb Tenses
Welcome to the third lesson of this special
Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses
On this lesson we will learn:
What Are the 2
Most Important Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before You Say
or Write a Sentence?
These 2 questions are important because they will help you decide which
tense you should use.
So... These questions are:
1) What is the time of the action?
2) What aspect of the action do I want to
Let's start with the first one.
1) What Is the
Time of the Action?
There are basically 3 possible answers to this
Examples of PAST time
Examples of PRESENT
we were young
World War II
I was a child
few days ago
2) What Aspect of the Action
Do I Want to Emphasize?
This basically means:
do you want to emphasize the
fact that the action is in
Or the fact that the action is complete
Or maybe you don't want to emphasize anything?
It is up to you to decide.
look at a real life example:
is at the bank. She waits for service. She waits and waits and waits,
nothing happens. Now, after all this waiting she wants to complain
What time should she use? PRESENT, because it's happening NOW.
She wants to emphasize the fact that this action is now in progress
still continues, so she uses the PROGRESSIVE aspect.
(PROGRESSIVE means "continuing")
So Lisa says: "I
real life example:
Lisa talks with some friends. They ask her about her life. She wants to
tell them that she left her job a week ago.
What time should she use? PAST, because it happened a week ago.
just wants to mention what she did. She doesn't want to emphasize any
particular aspect, so she uses the SIMPLE past form of the verb.
Lisa says: "I left
my job a week ago."
These two rules are applied by English
speakers all the time. Obviously, they don't pause every time they want
to say something... It is done naturally, without thinking about it.
In everyday English you usually see the following:
in the present are expressed using the Simple Present tense:
are happening right now, or at the current time period are expressed
using the Present Progressive tense:
- She likes
- They meet
- He never fails.
- I am
eating a sandwich.
- He is
preparing for his exam.
- She is
that happened in the past are expressed using the Simple Past tense.
- She started
school in 1991.
- They bought
the house a year ago.
- We wanted
to go to the party last night.
were in progress over a period of time in the past are expressed using
the Past Progressive tense:
- I was
washing the dishes all evening.
- She was
sleeping all night.
- They were
working when the power went off.
Things from the
past that affect the present are expressed using the Present Perfect
- I have
lost my wallet. Now what am I going to do?
- She has
watched that movie. She doesn't want to watch it again.
- You have
studied for this exam, so you should do fine.
Things that will
happen in the future (not plans), predictions, promises, intentions,
etc. are expressed using the Simple Future tense ("will"):
you plan to do in the future, or predictions, are expressed using
the Simple Future tense ("going to"):
- I will
be 21 next week.
- I will
- She will
- I am
going to start a business.
- He is
going to talk with his father about this.
- They are
This is a partial list of the most common tenses usage.
worry if you don't remember all of it. This is just a short overview.
We will go over all these tenses in detail in the following lessons!
So now, after all of this information, let's do
links below to start practicing:
03, Exercise 01
03, Exercise 02
On the next lesson we will dive right into learning 3 of the most
common tenses of the English language.
Do you have any questions? Now
is the perfect
time to ask them!Click here to ask your question.