English Grammar Test Series: Tenses Part 1

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Articles, Pronouns

English Grammar Test Series: Tenses

Read the following sentences:

  • I write this letter to please you.
  • I wrote the letter in his very presence.
  • I shall write another letter tomorrow.
    • In sentence 1, the Verb write refers to present time.
    • In sentence 2, the Verb wrote refers to past time.
    • In sentence 3, the Verb shall write refers to future time.

Thus a Verb may refer

  • to present time,
  • to past time, or
  • to future time.

A Verb that refers to present time is said to be in the Present Tense; as,

  • I write.
  • I love.

A Verb that refers to past time is said to be in the Past Tense; as,

  • I wrote,
  • I loved,

A Verb that refers to future time is said to be in the Future Tense

  • I shall write,
  • I shall love.

Thus there are three main Tenses –

  • The Present,
  • The Past,
  • The Future.

Sometimes a past tense may refer to present time, and a present tense may express future time, as:

  • I wish I knew the answer. (= I’m sorry I don’t know the answer. Past tense – Present time)
  • Let’s wait till he comes. (Present tense – future tense)

Read these sentences:

  • I love. (Simple Present)
  • I am loving. (Present Continuous)
  • I have loved. (Present Perfect)
  • I have been loving. (Present Perfect Continuous)

The Verbs in all of these sentences refer to the present time, and are therefore said to be in the present tense.

  • In sentence I, however, the Verb shows that the action is mentioned simply, without anything being said about the completeness or incompleteness of the action.
  • In sentence 2, the Verb shows that the action is mentioned as incomplete or continuous, that is, as still going on.
  • In sentence 3, the Verb shows that the action is mentioned as finished, complete, or perfect, at the time of speaking.
  • The tense of the Verb in sentence 4 is said to be Present Perfect Continuous, because the verb shows that the action is going on continuously, and not completed at this present moment.
  • Thus we see that the Tense of a verb shows not only the time of an action or event, but also the state of an action referred to.

Just as the Present Tense has four forms, the Past Tense also has the following four forms:

  • I loved. (Simple Past)
  • I was loving. (Past Continuous)
  • I had loved. (Past Perfect)
  • I had been loving. (Past Perfect Continuous)

Similarly the Future Tense has the following four forms:

  • I shall/will love. (Simple Future)
  • I shall/will be loving. (Future Continuous)
  • I shall/will have loved. (Future Perfect)
  • I shall/will have been loving. (Future Perfect Continuous)

We may now define Tense as that form of a Verb which shows the time and the state of an action or event.

A verb agrees with its subject in number and person. Study the verb forms of various tenses:
Simple Present Tense

  • I speak
  • You speak
  • He speaks
  • We speak
  • They speak

Present Continuous Tense

  • I am speaking
  • You are speaking
  • He is speaking .
  • We are speaking.
  • They are speaking.

Present Perfect Tense

  • I have spoken
  • You have spoken
  • He has spoken
  • We have spoken
  • They have spoken

Simple Past Tense

  • I spoke
  • You spoke
  • He spoke
  • We spoke
  • They spoke

Past Perfect Tense

  • I had spoken
  • You had spoken
  • He had spoken
  • We had spoken
  • They had spoken

Simple Future Tense

  • I shall/will speak
  • You will speak
  • He will speak
  • We shall/will speak
  • They will speak

Future Perfect Tense

  • I shall/will have spoken
  • You will have spoken
  • He will have spoken
  • We shall/will have spoken
  • They will have spoken

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

  • I have been speaking
  • You have been speaking
  • He has been speaking
  • We have been speaking
  • They have been speaking

Past Continuous Tense

  • I was speaking
  • You were speaking
  • He was speaking
  • We were speaking
  • They were speaking

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

  • I had been speaking
  • You had been speaking
  • He had been speaking
  • We had been speaking
  • They had been speaking

Future Continuous Tense

  • I shall/will be speaking
  • You will be speaking
  • He will be speaking
  • We shall/will be speaking
  • They will be speaking

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

  • I shall/will have been speaking
  • You will have been speaking
  • He will have been speaking
  • He shall/will have been speaking
  • They will have been speaking