Tenses are all used to indicate an action that has occurred in the past, present and future. The actions can be general or specific. The Present Continuous tense is used to show a continuing action or condition that is happening at this time. Past Continuous tense is used when the action started in the past but was unfinished at some point in time in the past. Past Perfect Continuous Tense denotes an action that has been going on for some time. Future Continuous Tense denotes an action that will be happening for some time.
Why use tenses in grammar?
Tenses are all used to indicate an action that has occurred in the past, present, or future. The actions can be general or specific.
The simple tenses are:
- Past simple (was) – used for actions that happened at a definite time and were not necessarily repeated later. Examples include: “I went to school yesterday” or “I went swimming last week.”
- Present continuous (is/am/are) – used when an action is ongoing at this moment; you’re describing something that’s happening now but isn’t finished yet. Examples include: “He’s still playing video games.”
The continuous tense also includes some modal verbs (“can,” “will,” etc.) which have no clear time frame but rather show more complex relationships between speakers and listeners than just one-off events like those described by past tense verbs do (e.g., “Your car needs gas.”)
The Present Continuous tense
The present continuous tense is used to show a continuing action or condition that is happening at this time. Use of Present Continuous Tense The present continuous tense can express an action that is currently happening and continues. It’s used in situations like “I am eating dinner right now” or “We are waiting for our train now.”
Past Continuous tense
The past continuous is used when the action began in past but was unfinished at some point in time in the past. It can be used to describe an action that started and stopped, or it can also be used as a substitute for a simple present tense or perfect tense (e.g., “I am walking”).
This tense is often used with adverbs such as “nevertheless” or “but,” which add emphasis by saying something similar to what was happening before but not exactly like it.
The Past Perfect Continuous tense
The past perfect continuous tense is used to show an action that has been going on for some time. It’s also called the past perfect progressive because it’s formed using the past perfect tense of the verb “to be.”
- You had been sleeping when I woke you up. (You were asleep, so this was an action that started in one moment and continued until another moment.)
- She’d been talking about her vacation since she left school yesterday afternoon. (She had talked about her trip since leaving school, so this was more than one sentence or event.)
The Future Continuous Tense
A future continuous tense is a verb form that denotes an action that will happen for some time in the future. As such, it can also refer to events that have happened but have yet to be completed. For example:
- She is going to leave in two weeks.
This sentence indicates that the action of leaving has started and may continue until two weeks later or longer. This example could also be expressed using another tense (for example, “She was leaving”). Still, because we want to emphasize that she has started on her journey before we reach our destination, we use this particular tense.
Tense Uses In Depth
In English, you can choose between past simple and continuous tenses. The difference between these two is that the first refers to an action that took place in the past, while the second refers to an action that was still happening at some point.
In addition to these two tenses, there are also other ways of referring to actions as they occurred:
- Past perfect (I had done)
- Present perfect (I am doing)
A habit or a repeated event A habit or a repeated event A habit or a repeated event
The simple present tense is used to express a general truth. It’s generally used to talk about habits or repeated events:
- “I eat breakfast every day.”
- “She always eats her vegetables.”
It can also be used for describing the past:
- “Last night, I went out with my friends.” This sentence expresses that last night was an action (I went out) and that it happened in the past tense of time; it’s not necessarily true this way all the time, but it’s common enough that you should learn how to use this structure if you plan on writing formal essays or papers.
An action in progress at the time of speaking An action beginning before a reference time and continuing after it. An action in progress at the time of speaking. In this case, you can’t say, “it’s on.” You have to say, “It’s still on” or “It’s off.” The speaker is changing their mind about something that has already happened and is continuing with their story. For example:
- I’m going to get up early tomorrow morning because I want to see my friend who lives close by but doesn’t like me very much anymore. After all, we last spoke a few months ago (continuous).
To emphasize completed actions To emphasize completed actions To emphasize completed actions. Perfect tense is used to emphasize completed actions. For example:
- I have finished my homework. (not an action)
- I still need to finish my homework. (an action)
To stress on unfinished actions begun before another point of reference To stress on unfinished actions begun before another point of reference.
Perfect continuous tense is used to show an action that has been going on for some time. It is used to emphasize unfinished actions begun before another point of reference.
- Examples: I have been reading a book since yesterday; you have been talking to me since yesterday; he has been watching TV since morning; she has been talking with her friend over the phone since morning etc…
A summary of tenses with examples and their uses
Tenses are used to show action that has taken place in the past, present and future.
- The present tense is used to talk about something that is happening at this moment.
- The past tense refers to actions or situations before another action or condition. It can be used with a direct object (the person/object being talked about) or an indirect object (the thing being talked about). The infinitive form of verbs also requires a subject as an auxiliary verb (to have done), but this does not affect its meaning because it still refers back to an action that has already taken place.
- Future perfect tense refers directly back again toward an earlier moment in time when something will happen before another event occurs later on; there are two ways you can use this form: one way involves using ‘will’ + verb + had/has + been /hadn’t been /had been done”; another way uses “will” + verb + will have been done.”
These are tenses with examples and their uses. Tenses are used to show certain events occurred or to indicate a state of being or a condition present at the moment of speaking.