Tenses Quick Notes

The word ‘tense’ refers to the different forms of a verb which tell us when the action referred to happens—before, at the time of or after the moment of speech.

There are two main tenses in English: the present tense and the past tense. Each of these is divided into a number of subtenses. The complete system of tenses is as follows.

  1. Simple Present (He goes to  his friend’s house)
  2. Present Progressive (Or Present Continuous)
  3. Present Perfect
  4. Present Perfect Progressive
  1. Simple Past
  2. Past Progressive Or Past Continuous)
  3. Past Perfect
  4. Past Perfect Progressive

In English, verbs have two different tense forms that indicate whether something occurs in the present or in the past. For example:

  • We go to school every day. (Present tense form of ‘go’ indicating an action taking place at the present time)
    • We went to school yesterday. (Past form of ‘go’ indicating action in the past)

But we want to talk about an action that is expected to take place in the future, there is no separate ‘tense’, or form of the verb, that can be used. For example:

  • He will go to school tomorrow.

Although there are several different ways of indicating future action in English, we do not make use of any special ‘tense’ for this purpose. We use some other means instead.

Therefore, instead of talking about the ‘future tense’, we will refer to the different ways of showing future action. These are listed below:

  • Future action shown by ‘will’ or ‘shall’, together with the simple present tense form of the main verb. (Will/shall + V1.) Future action shown by ‘going to’.  
  • Future action shown by the use of the present progressive tense.
  • Future action shown by the use of simple present tense. (Narendra Modi visits Surat today.