Verb Tenses | Table of English Tenses with Rules and Examples

Verb Tenses are all used to express action that has taken place in the past, present, and future. The following sections will show how and when to use the 12 basic tenses in English grammar.

Verb Tenses List

Present Simple

  • Express habits or general truth

Example:

I’m nineteen years old.

  • Describe a future event on a designated date as part of a plan or arrangement

Examples:

The plane arrives at 18.00 tomorrow.

Present Continuous

  • Describe action going on at the time of speaking

Example:

They are swimming in the pool.

  • Express temporary action which may not be happening at the time of speaking

Example:

John’s driving his father’s car while his own car is in the workshop.

Present Perfect

  • Express past action which is not defined by a time of occurrence

Example:

Teresa isn’t at home. I think she has gone shopping.

  • Express an action which started in the past and has continued up until now

Example:

She has worked in the bank for five years.

Present Perfect Continuous

  • Express an action which started at some point in the past and may not be complete

Example:

He has been living in Bangkok since he left school.

Past Simple

  • Describe a past habit – or an action already completed

Example:

I went to Egypt in 1988.

  • Can be used with or without adverbs of time

Example:

He drank his whiskey almost bottoms up.

Past Continuous

  • Express uncompleted action of the past (with or without time reference)

Example:

Everyone was shouting.

  • Describe persistent habits of the past (with always, continuously, forever, etc.)

Example:

They were always quarrelling.

Past Perfect

  • Describe a completed action of the past that happened before another event took place

Example:

After he had finished work, he went straight home.

Past Perfect Continuous

  • Describe an action in the past that began before a certain point in the past and continued up until that time

Example:

She had been working at that company for three years when it went out of business.

Future Simple

  • Express an action, condition, or circumstance which hasn’t taken place yet

Example:

I will eat Japanese Food tomorrow.

Future Continuous

  • Express what will be going on at some time in the future

Example:

You‘ll be missing the sunshine once you’re back in England.

Future Perfect

  • Express an action that will be complete before another event takes place

Example:

By the time I finish this course, I will have taken ten tests.

Future Perfect Continuous

  • Describe an action that will have happened for some time and will not be complete yet at a certain point in the future

Example:

I will have been watching TV for 3 hours when you arrive.

Verb Tenses Chart – All Tenses in a Table

8 responses on "Verb Tenses | Table of English Tenses with Rules and Examples"

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  3. Really helpful!

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