What is Tense in English Grammar?

What is Tense in English Grammar? | Definition, Types and Examples

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What is Tense in English Grammar?

Tense is the fundamental pillar in English grammar. It’s very important to learn tense as far as English grammar is concerned. Let us see what is the definition of tense in English? The term ‘tense‘ has taken from the Latin word ‘Tempus‘ which indicates the time of action. Now we can say tense is a word which describes the time of a verb. For example:

  • I bought a book.
  • He reads a novel.
  • She will meet with her friends.

Note: All these three sentences refer to the time of action.

Types of Tense

Tense is mainly divided into three categories. They are:

  1. Past Tense
  2. Present Tense
  3. Future Tense

All the three tenses have four sub-categories. They are:

  • Indefinite
  • Continuous
  • Perfect
  • Perfect continuous

Past Indefinite Tense (simple past)

Past Indefinite Tense is usually used to indicate the completed action in the past or a past habit. For example:

  • She described her story.
  • I saw this person yesterday.
  • He did his job quite easily.
  • Mr George made his statement last week.
  • Mrs. Florida participated the competition last month.

Let us see the different forms of Past Indefinite Tense in English grammar:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
I wrote a paragraph.Did I write a paragraph?I didn’t write a paragraph.
He watched a live cricket match.Did he watch a live cricket match?He didn’t watch a live cricket match.
You made this mistake.Did you make this mistake?You didn’t make this mistake.
She found her English lessons.Did she find her English lessons?She didn’t find her English lessons.
They enjoyed the party.Did they enjoy the party?They didn’t enjoy the party.

Note: Past Indefinite Tense takes ‘did’ as a helping verb before the subject of an interrogative sentence and ‘didn’t after the subject of the negative form of a sentence and the main verb remains unchanged.

Structure: Subject+Verb(past form)+Object

Past Continuous Tense

Past Continuous Tense usually indicates the action in the past which was continued for some time. For example:

  • I was running in the field.
  • He was going to his campus.
  • She was holding the mirror.
  • They were making a profit from the business.
  • Mr Collin was running the industry.

Let us see the different forms of Past Continuous Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
I was playing cardWas I playing card?I was not playing card.
He was seeing the lion.Was he seeing the lion?He was not seeing the lion.
She was working as a nurse.Was she working as nurse?She was not working as a nurse.
They were looking for good partner.Were they looking for good partner?They were not looking for good partner.
Mr Floyd was demanding equal right.Was Mr Floyd demanding equal right?Mr Floyd was not demanding equal right.

Note: Past Continuous Tense takes ‘was’ and ‘were’ as helping verbs. ‘Was’ is placed in case of first-person and third-person on the other hand ‘were’ is placed in case of the second person.

Structure: Subject+was/were+Verb(+ing)+Object

Past Perfect Tense

Past Perfect Tense is placed between the two past actions which occurred before and later action is called Simple Past or Past Indefinite. For example:

  • Selim had left before I came.
  • Lina had gone from the program before we attended.
  • He had bought some clothes before the shop closed.
  • She had cooked good foods before the guests came.
  • They had played badminton before they took their dinner.

Let us see the different forms of Past Perfect Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
I had gone into the market.Had I gone in the market?I had not gone in the market.
He had met with his teachers.Had he met with his teachers?He had not met his teachers.
They had planned to make new ideas.Had they planned to make new ideas?They had not planned to make new ideas.
Mr Zamal had made a new operating systemHad Mr Zamal made a new operating system?Mr Zamal had not made a new operating system.
Mrs Zarin had got a prize.Had Mrs Zarin got a prize?Mrs Zarin had not got a prize.

Note: Past Perfect Tense takes ‘had’ as a helping verb.

Structure: Subject+had+Verb(past participle form)+Object

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Past Perfect Continuous Tense describes an action that started and continued for some time in the past. In Past Perfect Continuous Tense ‘since’ and ‘for’ can be used in order to indicate how long the action continued in the past. For example:

  • I had been walking since morning.
  • He had been reading the book for one week.
  • She had been joining the meeting since evening.
  • They had been coming for 1 year.
  • Mr Joseph had been attending the class before they left.

Let us see the different forms of Past Perfect Continuous Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
We had been playing cricket since morning.Had we been playing cricket since morning?We had not been playing cricket since morning.
He had been waiting for you for two years.Had he been waiting for you for two years?He had not been waiting for you for two years.
I had been running in the field since afternoon.Had I been running in the filed since afternoon?I had not been running in the field since afternoon.
She had been looking for a new job.Had she been looking for a new job?She had not been looking for a new job.
They had been sleeping for 6 hours.Had they been sleeping for 6 hours?They had not been sleeping for 6 hours.

Structure: Subject+had been+Verb(+ing)+Object

Present Indefinite Tense (simple present)

Present Indefinite Tense usually describes an action in the present time or depicts habitual fact or universal truth. For example:

  • I read a poetry.
  • You play a new game.
  • She dances well.
  • He catches fish in the pond.
  • They make a new design.
  • The Himalaya is a great mountain.

Note: If a subject starts with a third person singular number, ‘s’ or ‘es’ added after the main verb. Interrogative sentences take ‘do’ and ‘does’ before the subject and Negative sentences takes ‘do not’ and ‘does not’ after the subject.

Let us see the different forms of Present Indefinite tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
I see a bird.Do I see a bird?I do not see a bird.
You looks healthy.Do you look healthy?You do not look healthy.
He recites holy book.Does he recite holy book?He does not recite holy book.
She enjoys an awesome scenario.Does she enjoy an awesome scenario?She does not enjoy an awesome scenario.
They plan for a new trip.Do they plan for a new trip?They don’t plan for a new trip.

Structure: Subject+Verb(base form)+Object

Present Continuous Tense

Present Indefinite Tense describes an action which is going on and continued in the near future. For example:

  • I’m taking my breakfast.
  • You are doing a great job.
  • They are helping poor people.
  • He is going in the market.
  • She is running a shop.

Let us see the different forms of Present Indefinite Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
I’m driving a car.Am I driving a car?I’m not driving a car.
You are looking beautiful.Are you looking beautiful?You are not looking beautiful.
They are walking in the footpath.Are they walking in the footpath?They are not walking in the footpath.
He is buying a smartphone.Is he buying a smartphone?He is not buying a smartphone.
She is reading a poem.Is she reading a poem?She is not reading a poem.

Structure: Subject+am/is/are+Verb(+ing)+Object

Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Tense describes an action which has been finished but it’s consequence still available. For example:

  • I have completed my task.
  • You have gone to the place.
  • He has failed in the examination.
  • She has missed the train.
  • They have won the world cup.

Let us see the different forms of Present Perfect Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
I have left my home.Have I left my home?I have not left my home.
Mr Wajid has visited his new office.Has Mr Wajid visited his new office?Mr Wajid has not visited his new office.
He has opened a brand new shop.Has he opened a brand new shop?He has not opened a brand new shop.
They have achieved their goal.Have they achieved their goal.They have not achieved their goal.
It has looked pretty well.Has it looked pretty well?It has looked pretty well.

Structure: Subject+have/has+Verb(+past participle form)+Object

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Present Perfect Continuous Tense describes an action which started in the past and still continuing. For example:

  • I have been working for three days.
  • They have been staying home for six months.
  • She has been living this since Friday.
  • He has been suffering from mental diseases since Monday.
  • The students have been missing their class for one year.

Let us see the different forms of Present Perfect Continuous Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
I have been reading since morningHave I been reading since morning?I have not been reading since morning.
He has driving the car for six hours.Has he been driving the car for six hours?He has not been driving the car for six hours.
She has been cooking since eveningHas she been cooking since evening?She has not been cooking since evening.
They have been playing for one hour.Have they been playing for one hour?They have not been playing for one hour.
Jaw has been waiting for you for one week.Has Jaw been waiting for you for one week?Jaw has not been waiting for you for one week.

Structure: Subject+have been/has been+Verb(+ing)+Object

Future Indefinite Tense

Future Indefinite Tense describe an action which will be done or happened in the future. For example:

  • I will go to my campus.
  • You will see the beautiful flower.
  • They will attend the meeting.
  • She will meet her friends.
  • He will present in the examination hall.

Let us see the different forms of Future Indefinite Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogative Negative
I will see the bird.Will I see the bird?I will not see the bird.
You will find the place.Will you find the place?You will not find the place.
The man will contact you later.Will the man contact you later?The man will not contact you later.
He will provide healthy foods.Will he provide healthy foods?He will not provide healthy foods.
She will choose an orange colour.Will she choose an orange colour?She will not choose an orange colour.

Structure: Subject+shall/will+Verb(base form)+Object

Note: ‘Will can be used instead of ‘shall’

Future Continuous Tense

Future Indefinite Tense describes an action which will be going on in the future. For example:

  • I will be eating pizza.
  • He will walking in the street.
  • We shall be running the business.
  • They will be coming in my home.
  • Luna will be facing the situation.

Let us see the different forms of Future Continuous Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
Walker will be planning a new study plan.Will Walker be planning a new study plan?Walker will not be planning a new study plan.
I shall be getting my payment.Shall I be getting my payment?I shall not be getting my payment.
He will be remaining silence.Will he be remaining silence?He will not be remaining silence.
We shall be going there.Shall we be going there?We shall not be going there.
You will be missing your sister one day.Will you be missing your sister one day?You will not be missing your sister one day.

Structure: Subject+shall be/will be+Verb(+ing)+Object

Future Perfect Tense

Future Perfect Tense describes an action which will have occurred by a certain period of the time in the future. When two actions take place in the future, the first one is considered Future Perfect Tense and the second one Simple Present Tense. For example:

  • I shall have done my task before you come.
  • He will have gone there in order to meet you.
  • She will have written a new story.
  • We will have enjoyed the match before you know.
  • Ketty will have joined the party.

Let us see the different forms of Future Perfect Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
I will have got the point.Will I have got the point?I will have not got the point.
We shall have missed you.Shall we have missed you?We shall have not missed you.
You will have made a mistake.Will you have made a mistake?You will have not made a mistake.
It will have done for you.Will it have done for you?It will not have done for you.
She will have joined a new job.Will she have joined a new job?She will have not joined a new job.

Structure: Subject+shall have/will have+Verb(past participle form)+Object

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

Future Perfect Continuous Tense describes an action which will have continuing at a certain time in the future. When two actions are taking place in the future, the first one is considered Future Perfect Continuous Tense and the second one Simple Present Tense. For example:

  • I shall have been doing it for you before you want.
  • You will have been buying the car before you retire.
  • They will have been paying the price for their misdeed.
  • He will have been reading the book before Mr Jim arrives.
  • The teacher will have been taking the class for two hours.

Let us see the different forms of Future Perfect Continuous Tense:

AffirmativeInterrogativeNegative
You will have been missing the moment.Will you have been missing the moment?You will have not been missing the moment.
He will have staying at the home for three months.Will he have been staying at the home for three months?He will not have been staying at the home for three months.
I shall have been playing in the field.Shall I have been playing in the field?I shall not have been playing in the field.
They will have been performing before she comes.Will they have been performing before she comes?They will not have been performing before she comes.
We shall have been arranging the program since morning.Shall we have been arranging the program since morning??We shall not have been arranging the program since morning.

Structure: Subject+shall have been/will have been+Verb(+ing)+Object


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