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Verb Tenses

Verb tenses are tools that English speakers use to talk about the past, present and future in their language. You may find that some English tenses, such as simple present or present perfect, do not have direct translations in your language. That is not a problem. By studying this verb tense tutorial, you will learn to think like a native English speaker. If you prefer to use the verb tense pages as a reference only and do not want to complete the tutorial, click here.

How to use this tutorial:

1. Prepare for the exercises by reading Types of Verbs, Active vs. Passive, and the verb tense descriptions that you want to practice.

2. Complete the verb tense exercises below. After each exercise, we have included links to the tenses covered. And don't miss our Verb Tense Final Test.

3. At the bottom of this page, we have included an Overview of all Verb Tense Forms and Common Questions about Verb Tenses.

Verb Tense Exercises

EXERCISETOPICS COVERED
Verb Tense Exercise 1Simple Present and Present Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 2Simple Present and Present Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 3Simple Past and Past Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 4Simple Past and Past Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 5Simple Past and Present Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 6Simple Past and Present Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 7Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 8Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 9Present Continuous and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 10Present Continuous and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 11Simple Past and Past Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 12 Simple Past, Present Perfect, and Past Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 13Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 14 Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 15 Present Continuous, Simple Past, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 16Present and Past Tenses with Non-Continuous Verbs
Verb Tense Exercise 17Present and Past Tense Review
Verb Tense Exercise 18Will and Be Going to
Verb Tense Exercise 19Will and Be Going to
Verb Tense Exercise 20Will and Be Going to
Verb Tense Exercise 21Simple Present and Simple Future
Verb Tense Exercise 22Simple Present and Simple Future
Verb Tense Exercise 23Simple Future and Future Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 24 Simple Present, Simple Future, Present Continuous, and Future Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 25Simple Future and Future Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 26Future Perfect and Future Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 27Future Perfect and Future Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 28Future Continuous and Future Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Practice TestCumulative Verb Tense Review
Verb Tense Final TestCumulative Verb Tense Review

Verb Tense Overview with Examples

Simple Present Simple Past Simple Future
I study English every day. Two years ago, I studied English in England. If you are having problems, I will help you study English.

I am going to study English next year.
Present Continuous Past Continuous Future Continuous
I am studying English now. I was studying English when you called yesterday. I will be studying English when you arrive tonight.

I am going to be studying English when you arrive tonight.
Present Perfect Past Perfect Future Perfect
I have studied English in several different countries. I had studied a little English before I moved to the U.S. I will have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.

I am going to have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.
Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Continuous Future Perfect Continuous
I have been studying English for five years. I had been studying English for five years before I moved to the U.S. I will have been studying English for over two hours by the time you arrive.

I am going to have been studying English for over two hours by the time you arrive.

Notice the organization of the tenses

Take a moment to look at the table above and notice how it is organized. It tells you a lot about how native English speakers understand time. There are four present tenses, four past tenses and four future tenses. Each group contains a simple tense, a continuous tense, a perfect tense and a perfect continuous tense. This is important because these groupings can help you learn and remember how English verb tenses are used in real life. For example, present perfect, past perfect and future perfect are all used in very similar ways. Keep this in mind while reading our tense descriptions.

Common Questions about Verb Tenses

How can I learn English verb tenses?

It is important to understand that the way native English speakers understand time may be very different from the way you understand time in your native language. For example, Germans often make mistakes with present perfect because it looks like a tense in German, but the tense is used very differently in English. If you need help, our detailed tense descriptions and exercises will teach you how to think like a native speaker.

Make sure you pay attention to the small details. It is important to learn how non-continuous and mixed verbs can affect tense usage. English learners should also practice active and passive verb forms, so they don't have to think about grammar in the middle of a conversation. Similarly, you need to take the time to learn the large number of irregular verbs in English. Mastering English verb tenses is all about practice, practice, practice. It's easy if you use our irregular verb flashcards!

How many verb tenses are there?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Linguists and language researchers often say that English has three tenses: past, present and future. They often refer to simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous as "aspects" of each tense.

People who teach English as a foreign language say that English has 12 tenses: simple present, simple past, simple future, present continuous, past continuous, future continuous, present perfect, past perfect, future perfect, present perfect continuous, past perfect continuous, and future perfect continuous.

It is important to point out that in addition to the 12 tenses listed above, there are additional forms such as Used to, would always, and future in the past, which are used to express time in English. Here at Englishpage.com, we describe 15 verb forms in this Verb Tense Tutorial.

What is the most common mistake English learners make with verb tenses?

The most common mistake English learners make is to use simple present to talk about things that are happening now. Present continuous is not optional in English. Another very common mistake is combining present perfect with specific times such as yesterday or last week. That is not correct in English. And very few English learners master the subtle differences between will and be going to in simple future. All of these problems are clearly explained in this tutorial.

What sources should I use to learn English verb tenses?

In addition to Englishpage.com's Verb Tense Tutorial, we recommend that English learners read and watch TV to practice what they have learned. However, while news programs and documentaries are great for vocabulary, they are not good for learning typical verb tense usage. Comedies and dramas with lots of dialogue are best. You want to hear natural spoken English which relates to everyday activities. Many teachers use sitcoms, such as "Friends" or "The Big Bang Theory," to teach verb tenses in class.

Where can I see examples of all the verb tense forms?

When you click into each tense description in our tutorial, go to the end of the Forms section. There, you will find a link to a page titled Complete List of Forms showing examples of positive, negative and question forms for that tense. For example, here is the complete list of simple present forms.

Do you capitalize the names of verb tenses?

In older grammar books, the names of verb tenses were often capitalized, but most modern grammar books no longer do this.
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