Tenses hold prime importance in structuring sentences. Different tenses are identified by their related verb forms. Different English learning books have three main verb tenses i.e. past, present, and future. Each of these tenses is further, divided into three main aspects i.e. simple, perfect, and continuous. To have a command of these tenses, you need to learn English online so that you can structure your English sentences without any mistakes.
In English writings, the most commonly used tenses are present simple, past simple, and present perfect. Tenses are used to locate the time in which a particular event has occurred. English tenses also play an important role in analyzing the relationship and the duration between different events.
Before getting into the details of these tenses, it is crucial to understand the meaning of tense.
What is tense?
As explained earlier, tense allows us to describe the time. For example, if you want to talk about something that happened yesterday, you would use the past tense. On the other hand, if you are talking about something that will happen next month, you would use the future tense.
We use the present as our point of reference when using tenses in English because we live in it. If you have eaten ice cream yesterday, you will require past tense to tell that you ate ice cream yesterday. For example, you will say:
I ate ice cream yesterday.
Now imagine you want to tell a friend about your trip to the Maldives. This trip is going to happen in next week, which means this trip to the Maldives is in your future. To explain this, you will use the simple future tense, by saying:
I will go to the Maldives next week.
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Learning English tenses are very important. You should know the English tenses and their application for several reasons.
English is a language based on chronology
This may sound strange to you. However, this simply means that English requires all of its tenses to locate an action in time or express the relationship between two different actions. For instance:
He arrived yesterday (this means that the action has occurred in past).
He will arrive tomorrow (this means that the action will occur in the future).
I was having lunch when the telephone rang (this tense is showing a relationship between two actions).
English is a widely spoken language
English has emerged as the world’s primary means of communication. Every day, millions of people use it to communicate with friends, colleagues, bosses, and others. If you want to be a part of the global conversation, you should know English, and knowing English means you must know about English tenses and their use.
Tenses help you get fluent
The difference between being a beginner who can talk about their daily routine and speaking proficiently about democracy is in the tenses. The more tenses you master, the better you will become at speaking English. The ability to recognize and use tenses differentiates between a beginner and an advanced learner.
Tenses are important to passing English examinations
Finally, if you want to pass your classes or ace your official exams, you must learn the tenses. Even if you are learning English on your own and do not intend to take an exam, you must have a reason for learning, and as a result, you will want to know if you are progressing or not.
What are English tenses?
There are 12 tenses in English. They are classified into three groups (present, past, and future). Each group is further subdivided into the tenses simple, continuous (progressive), perfect, and perfect continuous.
The present tense
The present tense group consists of four tenses that either enable us to talk about the current moment or are somehow related to it.
The present simple
The present simple is used to discuss repeated actions, habits, wishes, and emotions. This tense is also used to give directions and instructions, as well as to consult timetables and calendars.
He goes to school by cycle.
She is very tired.
The present continuous
The present continuous is used to describe actions or events that are taking place right now or are ongoing. This tense is also used when someone or something bothers us.
I am not getting anything.
John is reading a book.
You are always arriving late to the office.
The present perfect
This is the tense we use to describe actions and events that occurred in the past but have an impact on the present.
I have lost my bag.
John has broken his arm.
The present perfect continuous
We use this tense to describe actions and events that began in the past and continue to occur today/now.
She has been living in England for 12 years.
John and Thomson have been learning English for six months.
We have been waiting for six hours.
The Past Tense
The past tense includes the four tenses used to discuss the past.
The past simple
The past simple is used to describe completed past actions and events.
She died in 2016 in a car accident.
John got married last month.
I went to the park last week.
The past continuous
When we need to describe past actions and events that occurred over a period of time, we use the past continuous.
She was running when she slipped.
They were playing games while I was cleaning the room.
The past perfect
The past perfect is used to describe actions and events that occurred prior to another action or prior to a specific time in the past.
She had already left when I arrived.
John had already moved to Hong Kong when the incident happened.
When the ambulance arrived, the man had already died.
The past perfect continuous
The past perfect continuous is used to describe actions and events that began in the past and continued until another action or event in the past occurred.
She had been waiting for three hours when she decided to go back to work.
The kids had been playing for only five minutes when the teacher called them back.
The Future Tense
The four tenses that refer to the future are included in the future tense group.
The future simple
We mostly use the future simply to make predictions and spontaneous decisions.
I think we will have a session tomorrow.
Don’t worry! We will help you.
The future continuous
This tense is used to refer to actions or events that will take place in the future.
I will be waiting when you come back.
John will be waiting for us in the mall.
We will be having lunch by then.
The future perfect
The future perfect tense is used to indicate that an action or event will be completed at some point in the future.
She will have finished by 9 P.M.
The nurse will have written the report by Monday.
The future perfect continuous
The future perfect continuous is used to describe actions and events that will have already occurred at some point in the future.
By the end of this year, I will have been living in Japan for five years.
They will have been waiting for three hours by 6 p.m.
How to Learn Tenses in English
Learning tenses can be tedious at times, especially if you are learning by yourself. That is why it is feasible for you to take assistance from professionals. The tutors in italki will make you learn the basics of the English language in an interesting and relevant manner. For example, online English teachers will make you understand the difference between to and too.
The important point to remember is, that you will not master English tenses overnight. You will require to practice their use on daily basis. Try to use them in your daily conversations. Use relevant examples based on any context you find yourself in.
Be consistent in your learning approach. You can also make sticky notes related to each tense and place them in front of you. It will help you remember the rules related to every tense.