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Understanding Verbs: Verb Tenses

 

Each verb tense is composed of a time frame (past, present, future) and an aspect (simple, progressive, perfect, perfect progressive). Together, the time frame and the aspect make up the complete verb tense (past progressive, future perfect, etc . . .).

 

Time Frames
Past, present and future are the three time frames that are used to describe or indicate verb tense. Past tense is used to describe actions that occurred in the past; present tense is used to describe actions that are currently taking place; and future tense is used to describe an action that will take place in the future.

 

Aspects
Aspect refers to the state of action of a verb. There are four types of verb aspects: simple, progressive, perfect and perfect progressive.

 

Simple tenses
The simple tenses are used for actions that occurred at a specific time either in the present, past or future, but they do not state whether or not the action is finished. They are present (simple), past (simple) and future (simple).

 

Progressive tenses
The progressive tenses are used to indicate an unfinished action. They are present progressive, past progressive and future progressive.

 

Perfect tenses
The perfect tenses describe a finished action. They are present perfect, past perfect and future perfect.

 

Perfect progressive tenses
The perfect progressive tenses describe an action that was in progress but was then finished. They are present perfect progressive, past perfect progressive and future perfect progressive.


Time Frames + Aspects = Complete Verb Tenses

Complete Verb Tenses: Present
The complete present verb tenses are typically used to describe actions that are taking place or have taken place repeatedly during the present time period. The four complete present verb tenses are
Present + (Simple) = Present tense
Present + Progressive = Present progressive tense
Present + Perfect = Present perfect tense
Present + Perfect Progressive = Present perfect progressive tense

 

Present Verb Tenses

Examples

Present (Simple): The present tense describes the present state or condition of something or a habitual action.

I study accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Present Progressive: The present progressive tense describes an activity that is currently in progress.

I am studying accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Present Perfect: The present perfect tense describes an event that has already been completed in the present. It may also be used with events that occurred at an unspecified time in the past.

I have studied accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Present Perfect Progressive: The present perfect progressive tense describes something that began in the past, continues into the present and may continue into the future.

I have been studying accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

 

Complete Verb Tenses: Past
The complete past verb tenses are typically used to describe actions that took place during the past time period. The four complete past verb tenses are
Past + (Simple) = Past tense
Past + Progressive = Past progressive tense
Past + Perfect = Past perfect tense
Past + Perfect Progressive = Past perfect progressive


Past Verb Tenses

Examples

Past (Simple): The past tense describes something which occurred in the past.

I studied accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Past Progressive: The past progressive tense describes an ongoing action in the past.

I was studying accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Past Perfect: The past perfect tense describes an event that occurred before a specific time in the past.

I had studied accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria before I changed my major.

Past Perfect Progressive: The past perfect progressive tense describes something that began in the past, continued in the past and concluded in the past.

I had been studying accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.


Complete Verb Tenses: Future
The complete future verb tenses are typically used to describe actions that will take place in the future or will continue on into the future. The four complete future verb tenses are
Future + (Simple) = Future tense
Future + Progressive = Future progressive
Future + Perfect = Future perfect
Future + Perfect Progressive = Future perfect progressive

 

Future Verb Tenses

Examples

Future (Simple): The future tense describes something that will occur in the future.

I will study accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Future Progressive: The future progressive tense describes an ongoing action in the future.

I will be studying accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Future Perfect: The future perfect tense describes an action that will be completed by a specific time in the future.

I will have studied accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Future Perfect Progressive: The future perfect progressive tense describes something that begins in the present and continues into the future.

I will have been studying accounting at the University of Houston-Victoria.

 

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