grammar: how many tenses are there? 12 or 16 Hello there!

I'm wondering how many tenses are there?) 

Some people say 12, some 16 and some 24(!)

What are they? 12 : indefinite, continuous, perfect, perfect continuous
4 Future-in-the-past tenses = 16

What's truth)?
What do you think? Your answers will help me a looot😘😘😘

Thank you so much💕

Apr 8, 2019 10:02 AM
Comments · 3

Some grammars say there are 2 verb tenses, the present and the past.

Other grammars say there are 3 verb tenses, the present, the past and the future.

However, most say that there are 12 tenses (see below).

I have never heard that there are more than 12 tenses. 

                  Example of the 12 Verb Tenses


Present Simple I write

Present Continuous I am writing

Present Perfect I have written

Present Perfect Continuous I have been writing

Past Simple I wrote

Past Continuous         I was writing

Past Perfect I had written

Past Perfect Continuous I had been writing

Future Simple I will write

Future Continuous I will be writing

Future Perfect I will have written

Future Perfect Continuous         I will have been writing

April 8, 2019
The number of times in the English language is rather a matter of the individual taste of linguists.
I met these extremes:
the minimum is 2 times (as Richard mentioned above);
the maximum is 26 time forms:
16 tenses of the active voice + 10 tenses in the passive voice.
The Active Voice:
 1- 4. Present/past/future/future in the Past - indefinite
 5- 8. Present/past/future/future in the Past - continuous
 9-12. Present/past/future/future in the Past - perfect
13-16. Present/past/future/future in the Past - perfect continuous
The Passive Voice:
1- 4. Present/past/future/future in the Past - indefinite
5- 6. Present/past - continuous
7-10. Present/past/future/future in the Past - perfect

April 8, 2019

Richard has given an excellent answer for the traditional 12 tenses.

English grammar combines tense, aspect, voice, and mood.  However, only a linguist normally cares about these details.  

Occasionally, combinations are counted as tenses.  For example 12 basic tenses in active voice and 12 basic tenses in passive voice are sometimes counted as 24 tenses.

The following examples mix and match the basic tenses for a variety of meanings.

- Joe said that he would come for a visit (he would come [modal would + present simple] = future in the past)

- Joe would come for a visit, if he were available (would come [modal would + present simple] = conditional result; were available [subjunctive of to be] = condition)

- Joe will come for a visit, if he is available (will come [future simple] = conditional result, is available [present simple] = condition)

- Joe said that he was coming for a visit (he was coming [past continuous] = future in the past)

- Joe was coming for a visit when his car broke down (he was coming [past continuous] = incomplete action in the past, broke down [past simple] = completed action)

- Joe cooked this chicken on a barbeque.  (cooked [past simple] = completed action)

- This chicken was cooked on a barbeque.  (was cooked [past simple of to be + past participle of to cook] = completed action in passive voice)

April 8, 2019
Language Skills
English, Russian
Learning Language