Tenses

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Tenses are modifications and changes of the verb, which distinguish time. The tense of a verb shows the time of an occasion and sometimes the continuation or completeness of an action in relation to the time of speaking. It is a method that people refer to past, present and future.
 
There are three main tenses in the English Language:

Present tense: are things that happen when the words are spoken or written; 
Past tense: are things that happened before the words were spoken or written;
Future tense: are things that might or will happen after the words are spoken or written;

Examples:

Past: 
She woke up, had a shower and left.
If I had a million dollar, I would help the poor.

Present:
I am leaving to Paris tomorrow.
The grass is wet because it has been raining all day long.

Future:
It will probably rain tonight
She'll pass the exam. She's hard working.


What are Tenses?

A tense does not always talk about a particular time for example; one can use the present tense, or even the past tense, to talk about the future. What's most important is not to confuse the name of a verb tense with the way it is used to talk about time.

Lets consider an example, a present tense does not always refer to the present time:
  • I hope it rains hereafter. ("rains" is present simple, but it refers to future time (hereafter) in the sentence. 
Or a past tense does not always refer to past time: Lets consider an example,
  • If I had some time now, I could watch it.  ("had" is past simple but it refers to present time (now) in the sentence. 
We cannot talk of tenses without considering two main components of English tenses which is the: time and aspect. 

In short, 

Time expresses:
  1. past - before now
  2. present - now, or any time that includes now
  3. future - after now
Aspect can be:
  1. progressive - uncompleted act
  2. perfective - completed act or state
The following table displays how these components work together to create basic tenses.

     

Time

    Past  Present   Future

    simple     

(no aspect) 

 sang  sings  will sing

aspect 

    Progressive             was singing          is singing           will be singing   
 Perfective  had sung  has sung  will have sung

The progressive feature creates progressive or "continuous" tenses such as: past continuous, present continuous, future continuous.

The perfective feature creates perfect tenses: past perfect, present perfect, future perfect.

And the two features can be combined to produce perfect continuous tenses: past perfect continuous, present perfect continuous, future perfect continuous.


Types of Tenses

There are six tenses; the Present, the Imperfect, the Perfect, the Pluperfect, the First-future, the Second-future. 
  1. The Present tense is that which expresses what now exists or is taking place. 
  2. The Imperfect tense is that which expresses what took place , within some period of time fully past.
  3. The Perfect tense is that which expresses what has taken place, within some period of time not yet fully past.
  4. The Pluperfect tense is that which expresses what had taken place at some past time mentioned.
  5. The First-future tense is that which expresses what will take place hereafter. 
  6. The Second-future tense is that which expresses what will have taken place, at some future time mentioned. 

Explanation 

Past 

Present 

Future 

 Moment  Simple Past   Simple Present   Future I Simple
action that takes place once, never or several times   He played cricket every Wednesday.   He plays cricket every Wednesday.   He will/ is going to play cricket every Wednesday. 
actions that  happen one after another  He played cricket and then he went home.   He plays cricket and then he goes home.   He will play cricket and then he will go home. 
 state  He loved cricket.   He loves cricket.  He will love cricket. 
Period   Past Progressive   Present Progressive  Future I Progressive
action going on at that moment   He was playing cricket.    He is playing cricket.   He will be playing cricket. 
 action taking place at the same time  He was playing cricket and she was watching.   He is playing cricket and she is watching.   He will be playing cricket and she will be watching. 
Result   Past Perfect Simple   Present Perfect Simple   Future II Simple
action taking place before a certain moment in time; emphasises the result   He had won seven matches until that day.   He has won seven matches so far.   He will have won seven matches by then. 
 Duration  Past Perfect Progressive   Present Perfect Progressive  Future II Progressive
action taking place before a certain moment in time ( and beyond), emphasises the duration   He had been playing cricket for twelve years.   He has been playing cricket for twelve years.   He will have been playing cricket for twelve years. 

Things to remember about simple tense:
     a. Present tense is the original verb form. 
     b. Past tense has a few patterns. 
     c. Future tense needs will (shall) + verb.

Example:
  • I run a marathon twice a year. (Present)
  • I ran a marathon last year. (Past)
  • I will run a marathon next year. (Future)

Uses of Tenses

Tenses have several uses but there are also some important points to be remembered while using them. 
  1. The tenses merely show the time of an action or state of being as shown by a verb.
  2. The verb ending is changed to show what time it is referring to.
  3. The tenses we use to show what time we are talking about, they are divided into the Simple, Continuous and Perfect tenses. 
  4. The continuous tenses are used when talking about a particular point in time. 
  5. The perfect tenses are used when an action or situation in the present is linked to a moment in the past. 
  6. Perfect tenses are never used when we say when something happened i.e. yesterday, last year etc. but can be used when discussing the duration of something i.e. often, for, always, since etc.
  7. When changing tenses in a paragraph, ‘signaling words’ or time phrases are useful, e.g. Since then, currently, now, in the past, for example.

Examples of Tenses 

Mentioned below are the Examples of Tenses:
  1. They have been playing soccer for several hours, so now they are exhausted.
  2. You will have been waiting for over two hours when the train finally arrives.
  3. Bella is playing the guitar and Andrew is listening to her.
  4. Were you sleeping all night long?
  5. Last night at nine o'clock John was washing the dishes.
  6. Usually I work in an office, but this month I am traveling from place to place.
  7. Patrick is leaving us, and somebody else will replace him.
  8. In September I will have lived here for seven years.
  9. The cat has been hiding under the couch for over an hour now.
  10. They are arranging a special dinner and they want us to come.
  11. Lately, Susan has been coming late.
  12. Recently, I have been making more and more money with my business.
  13. They had been flying for eight hours before they finally reached New York.
  14. Even though she will have been dancing the whole night, Mona will still look very fresh.
  15. Tony will be tired when he gets here because he will have been exercising for four hours.
  16. I am not watching the game this evening, I have homework.
  17. While the cat was sleeping the mice were eating its food.
  18. We were having a very nice picnic when it started to rain.
  19. Tomorrow at three o'clock Josh will be cooking.
  20. When we arrive at their house tonight, they will be waiting.
  21. They have never eaten there before.
  22. I don't believe we have met. My name is David.
  23. By the time he graduates, he will have completed five years of study.
  24. The snow will have stopped by April.
  25. Since when have you been sick?
  26. She will have gotten ready by the time they leave the house.
  27. I have not been quite myself since the accident.
  28. Rachel hadn't lost hope, and in the end she found her baby.
  29. We had gotten married before 1985.
  30. I had owned this place for two years before I sold it.