The three tenses are the past, present and the future and under each
we have the simple, the progressive, the perfect and the perfect continuous.
(a) The Simple Present is used for permanent truths (The sun rises in the East)
and habitual action (Prof. Brown meets his students twice a week)
(b) Present Progressive is used to indicate
(i) an action in progress at the moment (I am writing; You are reading)
(ii) an action in future if it is fully arranged for. It is, in such cases,
associated with adverbs of future time.
I am going to London next week.
(iii) a pursuit during the time (I am reading Shakespeare; I am working
for a firm of engineers)
(c) Present Perfect is used for
(i) an action which began in the past and has continued till the time of
speaking (I have finished the home-work) or
(ii) for the present result of a past action (They have passed the examination)
(1) Present Perfect continuous indicates prolonged action which still continues
(I have been reading this book for a week)
Past Tense (Tense-basic knowledge)
(a) The simple past indicates an action in the past (I read a story) or an action
habitual in the past (Last year I walked to my office every day)
(b) Past Progressive is used for continuous actions in the past about whose
beginning and end we are not concerned. It is almost always found along
with a simple past tense verb which indicates an action that took place when
the action was in progress.
I was eating my lunch when the bell rang.
(c) Past Perfect indicates an action in the past after which another action
has taken place.
I had left my house when you came.
(d) Past Perfect Continuous: An action that had progressed in the past and
had ended then is indicated by the tense.
I had been living here (now I don’t).
(a) Future tense is expressed in two ways
(i) using auxiliaries like ‘shall’ and ‘will’
(i) using ‘going to’
(i) In the first person ‘shall’ is future and ‘will’ is determination or resolution
Tense with Examples
I shall see him tomorrow (future)
I will see him tomorrow (resolution)
In the other persons ‘will’ and ‘shall’ exchange these emphases.
(ii) ‘going to’ indicates either intention (I am going to do law) or inevitability
at is going to rain)
(b) Future Continuous expresses an action that will be in progress in the future.
Examples-Tense basic knowledge
I will be writing my exam this time next week.
(c) Future Perfect refers to an action
which will be completed in the future. ’
I will have finished my exams next Saturday
(d) Future Perfect Continuous expresses an action that will be in progress in the
future and end then.
I will have been staying here for five was if I stay till 1980.
I Use of tense in conditional sentences Conditional sentences are classified into
I. Probable condition (cause-effect) The verb structure here is as follows :
If you study hard you will pass. present future In sentences expressing a natural
law both the verbs are in the present tense.
If you boil water it becomes vapour (not‘ it will become’ ). If the main clause is in
the imperative mood, then both the verbs are in the present tense. If you see John,
ask him to meet me (not ‘you will ask him’ ).
II. Improbable condition
When the sentence expresses a hypothetical but possible fact it is called ‘improbable’
or ‘opposed to known conditions’. Here the verbs are subjunctive in the ‘if’ clause and
conditional in the main clause.
1. If I told you, you would do it.
2. If I knew, I would tell you.
3. If I had it, I would give you.
[Note: that ‘had’ in the third sentence is lexical and not auxiliary]
4. If I were you, I would accept the offer.
III. Impossible condition This is also known as ‘time barred’ condition. The verbs here
are past perfect and conditional perfect in the ‘if’ and main clauses respectively.
(i) If I had known, I would have come.
(ii) If I had had the money, I would have given you.
[Note: that in the second example the first ‘had’ is auxiliary and the second lexical ].
Tense-basic knowledge – share