12 Tenses in English Grammar with examples

English tenses
What are the 12 tenses?

In grammar, tense is a class that expresses time reference with relevancy to the moment of speaking. Tenses are usually manifested by the utilization of specific kinds of verbs, particularly in their conjugation patterns. The main tenses found in many languages cover the past, present, and future.

English Tenses Meaning

English tenses are the forms of a verb which show the time at which action eventuates:

“I sing” is in the present tense and “I sang” is in the past tense.

English tenses can be effective in learning the English language from scratch. There are three main kinds of tenses that give a concept of the time when the incident quoted in a statement takes place. With good knowledge of 12 English tenses, eloquent English and perfect grammar are not too far away.

The nature of tenses is described with examples and fundamental structures. This would provide a clear conception to understand the knowledge of English grammar and will be helpful in writing better sentences.

Tenses chart

tenses chart

Types of Tenses with examples

There are three main verb tenses in English: present, past, and future. The present, past, and future tenses are distributed into four phases: simple, progressive, perfect, and perfect progressive. There are 12 principal verb tenses that English learners should know.

See Also: How-to guide: how to improve English speaking skills?

Present simple tense ( Present Indefinite )

Subject + Verb + s/es

I eat

He Walks

They run

She Sings

Present Continues Tense (Progressive)

Subject + is/am/are + verb(ing)

I am eating

They are playing cricket

She is singing

He is reading

Present Perfect tense

Subject + has/have + verb (3rd from)

I have completed my assignment

He has made this picture

They have played football

We have won the match

Present perfect continues (Progressive)

Subject + has been / have been +verb(ing)

I have been studying for the last three days.

They have been playing from 2 Pm

She has been sleeping since morning.

He has been working in this firm since 2019.

Simple Past tense ( Past Indefinite )

Subject+verb(2nd form)

He Completed the book

They ate the meal

I read the newspaper.

Past Continues tense (Progressive)

Subject + was/were +verb(ing)

I was reading the book.

She was singing the song.

They were playing cricket.

He was eating breakfast.

Past perfect tense

Subject + had + verb (3rd form)

I had finished my book.

He had gone.

They had won the match.

She had eaten the meal.

Past perfect continues tense (Progressive)

Subject + had been + verb(ing)

He had been completing his task from Sunday.

She had been singing since 2018.

I had been playing games for the last two hours.

Simple future tense (Future Indefinite)

Subject + shall/will + verb(1st form)

I shall go to the park.

he will play cricket.

She will sing a song at the party.

They will play cricket in the morning.

Future continues tense

Subject + will be / shall be + verb(ing)

I shall be playing cricket

They will be eating dinner.

She will be singing the song

He will be writing an article

Future Perfect tense

Subject + will have + verb(3rd form)

He will have played football.

I will have ate lunch.

They will have gone towards the city

She will have sung a song.

Future perfect continues tense

Subject + will have been + verb(ing)

I will have been eating for 2 hours.

They will have been watching the TV since morning.

She will have been singing since the evening.

He will have been playing for 2 hours.

English Verb Tenses — negative

In this lesson, we will learn how the regular verb changes when it is negative:

simple present tense
singularplural
I do not playWe do not play
You do not playYou do not play
He does not play  
She does not play They do not play
It does not play  
simple past tense
singularplural
I did not studyWe did not study
You did not study You did not study
He did not study
She did not study They did not study
It did not study
simple future tense
singularplural
I will not runWe will not run
You will not run You will not run
He will not run
She will not run They will not run
It will not run
present continuous tense
singularplural
I am not playingWe are not playing
You are not playing You are not playing
He is not playing
She is not playing They are not playing
It is not playing
past continuous tense
singularplural
I was not playing We were not playing
You were not playing You were not playing
He was not playing
She was not playing They were not playing
It was not playing
future continuous tense
singularplural
I will not be playing We will not be playing
You will not be playing You will not be playing
He will not be playing
She will not be playing They will not be playing
It will not be playing
present perfect tense
singularplural
I have not playedWe have not played
You have not played You have not played
He has not played
She has not played They have not played
It has not played
past perfect tense
singularplural
I had not played We had not played
You had not played You had not played
He had not played
She had not played They had not played
it had not played
future perfect tense
singularplural
I will not have played We will not have played
You will not have played You will not have played
He will not have played
She will not have played They will not have played
It will not have played
present perfect continuous tense
singularplural
I have not been eatingWe have not been eating
You have not been eating You have not been eating
He has not been eating
She has not been eating They have not been eating
It has not been eating
past perfect continuous tense
singularplural
I had not been eating We had not been eating
You had not been eating You had not been eating
He had not been eating
She had not been eating They had not been eating
It had not been eating
future perfect continuous tense
singularplural
I will not have been playingWe will not have been playing
You will not have been playing You will not have been playing
He will not have been playing
She will not have been playing They will not have been playing
It will not have been playing

Final Words

Various English learners bother too much about tense. If you stopped 100 native English speakers in the street and questioned them about tense, 1 of them might give you an intelligent answer – if you were lucky. The other 99 would know little about terms like “past perfect” or “present continuous”. And they would know zero about aspect, voice or mood. But they can all speak eloquent English and interact effectively. Of course, for ESL it helps to know about tenses but don’t become obsessed with them. Be like those native speakers! Speak naturally!

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