Tenses: A Rundown

Tenses: A Rundown

By Chris Cherry

When you want to say something is a permanent or regular situation. (Present simple tense)

  • I eat three times a day.

When you want to say that something happens in a story, film, or other work of fiction (Literary Present Tense)

  • Hamlet eats a pie.

When you want to say something is happening right now (Present continuous)

  • I am eating this pie.

When you want to say that something happened at a specific time in the past (Past simple)

  • I ate that pie.

When you want to say that something happened over a period of time in the past and then ended (Past continuous)

  • I was eating that pie when you texted.

When you want to say that something that just finished has an effect on the present (Present perfect simple)

  • I have eaten that pie already, so you can’t have any.

When you want to say how long something has been happening up until now (Present perfect continuous)

  • I have been eating this pie for twenty minutes now.

When you want to say that something happened before a certain moment in the past (Past perfect simple)

  • I had eaten that pie before you texted me.

When you want to say that something happened for a period of time before a certain moment in the past (Past perfect continuous)

  • I had been eating that pie for twenty minutes before you texted me.

When you want to say that there is a plan or certainty about something happening in the future, or something that’s just about to happen (Future simple)

  • I am going to eat that pie in one second.

When you want to talk about events in the future that are less certain or specific (Future simple)

  • I will eat pie again.

When you want to say that something will be finished in the future (Future Perfect simple)

  • I will have eaten all the pie in the apartment by tomorrow.
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