Verb Tenses

There are three primary active tenses, which this sheet will discuss:

  1. present tense
    1. simple present
    2. present progressive
    3. present perfect
  2. past tense
    1. simple past
    2. past progressive
    3. past perfect
  3. future tense
    1. simple future
    2. future perfect

1a. The simple present active tense expresses that actions currently transpire. Only one verb is necessary to express this tense—no auxiliary verb like am, have, had, is etc.

Ex.: The boy runs.

Eight of the priests walk to the chapel; the other two run.

1b. The present progressive tense describes a current ongoing action.

Ex.: The rabbit is nibbling at his celery.

Why is he always walking past his buddies?

1c. The present perfect tense describes an action that happened in the past and continues onto the present.

Ex.: She has learned to play the tambourine. 

I have been jousting with my sword much more lately.

2a. The simple past tense describes finite actions that existed at a definite point in the past.

Ex.: Anyone who knew Robert Paulson loved him. I certainly loved him.

I went to the grocery store before little Benton got sick, so I didn’t buy any cough syrup.

2b. The past progressive describes an ongoing action in the past.

2c. The past perfect describes an action that occurred at an indistinct time in the past.

Ex.: I have washed those jeans before. 

I hope that he has destroyed those papers.

Ex.: The chickens were pecking at the ground when the sun came out.

I was wondering why you cut up all those credit cards.

3a. The future tense occurs in the future. It often requires an auxiliary verb.

Ex.: I will put these marshmallows into the microwave.

I drive the pigs to the barn next Friday.

3b. The future perfect describes an action that will happen after an event or time period in the future. This tense requires two auxiliary verbs: “will have” and a passive past participle.

Ex.: By next month he will have learned his lesson.

I will have steamed the cabbage by the time my friend comes home.