I’ve seen a couple of interesting posts on social media recently about the most important tenses in English. Also, in the past, learners have asked me which tenses are the most commonly used and which they should learn first. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Verb 3 is usually called the past participle but I think this is a confusing name. Firstly, it isn’t only used for the past but can be used for the present and future too. Secondly, not many people really know what a participle is, not even teachers! So I prefer to call it “verb 3”!
Did you learn your irregular verbs from a list - beat, beat, beaten; come, came, come and so on? How well do you understand what the three forms mean and how to use them? This post is about the second form. “But that’s easy!” I hear you say. “It’s for the past!” That’s mostly true but not completely. Keep reading to learn why.
The present simple is easy, right? Are you sure? It’s the first tense that English students learn but it’s also one that causes problems and confusion, even at higher levels.
Have a look at these sentences. Are we talking about present time?
1. My train leaves at 2 o’clock this afternoon.
2. I usually go shopping on Wednesdays.
3. Two plus two equals four.
4. I live in Cambridge.
5. Send me a text message when you arrive.
6. Suddenly this woman comes in and starts shouting at me!
7. In this film, Daniel Craig plays James Bond for the last time. He searches for a missing scientist.
8. Fire destroys church.
9. We need more milk. This milk smells bad.
Keep reading to check your answers.
As with the other perfect continuous tenses, the future perfect continuous combines the ideas of the future perfect and the future continuous. We imagine a future time and then look back to an earlier time. We are also interested in the duration of the action. It probably isn’t used as often as the other future forms.
This is almost the end of my series about verb tenses in English. You can click here to see all the other posts in the series, but for now, let's have a look at the future perfect! This tense is mostly used to imagine a future moment and then look back to an earlier time.
Some time ago, I did a series of posts about the different verb tenses in English and I thought it was now time to finish it off. You can click here to see the rest of the series so far. To learn more about simple future tenses, click here.
And now, let's look at the future continuous! As with all the other continuous tenses, the future continuous has the idea of an action that will be in progress, or continuing for some time, at a certain point in the future.
We don't really have a future tense in English but instead use a variety of different structures. The most common are "be going to", "will", present continuous and present simple but do you know the difference? Keep reading to learn more about the different future forms in English.
This tense is a combination of past continuous and past perfect. The perfect part is because there is a link between two different past times and the continuous part indicates that the action continues for some time. If you haven't studied the other past tenses yet, you can find them here. Or click "read more" to learn about the past perfect continuous.
I think this is actually one of the easiest tenses in English. It’s definitely easier than the present perfect! Basically, it means “the past before the past” or “more past”. A good way to understand this tense is to think about flashbacks in books and films. If I’m telling you a story about the past but then I need to go back even further in time to explain earlier events, this is called a flashback and it can be described with the past perfect tense. For example, the first Harry Potter book starts the story when he is eleven years old. Later we learn that his parents had died when he was a baby.
This tense is sometimes called the past progressive. As the two names suggest, it is used to describe things which continued for some time in the past or were in progress at a particular moment. Click "read more" to learn all about this tense.
The past simple is easy enough to understand but it can cause problems because there are so many irregular verbs in English. Also forming negatives and questions is not easy! Read on to learn more.
This tense is a combination of present continuous and present perfect. The perfect part is because there is a link between the past and the present and the continuous part indicates that the action continues for some time. If you haven't studied the other present tenses yet, you can find them here. Or click "read more" to learn about the present perfect continuous.
This is one of the most problematic tenses in English. Basically, it is used when there is some connection between the past and the present. Something happened in the past and is relevant now or it started in the past and is still true now. Keep reading to learn more.
This tense is mostly used to talk about now but, confusingly, it can also be used to talk about the future. Sometimes it is called the present progressive. As the two names suggest, it is used to describe things which continue for some time or are in progress. Keep reading to learn more.
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