Uses of Tenses

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What are Tenses?

Tenses are defined as verbs used to indicate or denote the time of occurrence of an action or event. These verbs that take up different forms to indicate the time of an action, event, or condition by changing its form are called as tenses.

Introduction to Uses of Tenses

Tenses are primarily classified into three categories :

  1. Past Tense: The verbs that are used to indicate an action, event, or condition that has happened in the past are known as past tense. 

  2. Present Tense: The verbs that are used to indicate an ongoing event or an event that is currently occurring in the present moment are known as present tense.

  3. Future Tense: The verbs that are used to indicate an event that is going to occur in the future.

Each type of tense mentioned above has four aspects each respectively, thus we have 12 types of tenses in English grammar. There are two ways of forming a tense in English which is from the main verb i.e the past and the present form and to form other tenses, we need the help of auxiliary verbs such as have, be, or will.

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Uses of Tenses

As mentioned above each tense i.e present tense, past tense and future tense has four aspects respectively.

Simple Tenses 

The simplest form of each type of tense which is used to indicate single actions in the past, present, or future is known as Simple tenses.

Examples : 

  • Simple Past Tense: He wore the T-shirt yesterday.

  • Simple Present Tense: He wears the same T-shirt every day.

  • Simple Future Tense: He will wear the T-shirt tomorrow.

Progressive or Continuous Tenses 

This tense describes or expresses a continued or ongoing action which is, was or will be in progress in the present time, past time, or in the future. This tense talks about unfinished or ongoing events or actions

Examples :

  • Past Progressive or Continuous Tense: I was listening to my music, so I didn’t hear the phone ring.

  • Present Progressive or Continuous Tense: I am writing articles on different topics.

  • Future Progressive or Continuous Tense: Alex will be running a marathon this Saturday.

Perfect Tenses  

A Perfect Tense is a form of verb tense which is used to indicate one event that has occurred before another. Adverbs such as never, yet and, already are used to indicate the perfect nature of the used tenses.


  • Past Perfect Tense: She had met him before the party.

  • Present Perfect Tense: She has lived here all her life.

  • Future Perfect Tense: It will have stopped raining.

Perfect Progressive or Continuous Tenses

The perfect progressive tenses usually denote the “ from when ”  or  “ how long ” of an event or occurrence. Also, they always have the adverbs since or for in the sentences to indicate the continuous or progressive nature of the tenses.

  • Present perfect progressive is used to indicate an activity or event that started in the past and is continuing at present.

  • Past perfect progressive is used to indicate an activity or event that started in the past and has continued to occur for some time in the past.

  • Future perfect progressive describes the actions that will continue up until a point in the future.


  • Past Perfect Progressive Tense: She has been watching the movie for two hours.

  • Present Perfect Progressive Tense: He has been teaching in this school for ten years.

  • Future Perfect Progressive Tense: He will be working as an engineer in this factory since January.

Solved Example for You

Question: The People Next Door ______ a Lot of Noise Until Past Midnight.

  1. Were making                      

  2. Was making 

  3. Are making                         

  4. Have making 


(a) Were making.

(a) Is the correct answer.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

 1. What Are the 12 Types of Tenses?

1. Simple present tense 

2. Present continuous tense 

3. Present perfect tense 

4. Present perfect continuous tense 

5. Simple past tense 

6. Past continuous tense

7. Past perfect tense 

8. Past perfect continuous tense 

9. Simple future tense 

10. Future continuous tense 

11. Future perfect tense 

12. Future perfect continuous tense

2. Can We Mix Tenses in a Paragraph?

One should not switch from one tense to another unless the timing of an action demands to do so. We should also be very careful to use the exact tense needed to describe, narrate, or, explain. Mainly to keep the verb tense consistent in paragraphs, essays, and sentences.

3. What is the Past Tense for Go?

Went is the past tense for go. Gone is the past participle for go. Remember that gone always needs an auxiliary verb before it(has, have, is, am, was, were, be) but went doesn’t need it.