Tenses & Timelines
April 4, 2019
Written by Douglas Shaw
It’s all about time. Things can happen, in the past, present, and future:
The tenses simply show the time of an action or state-of-being as shown by the verb. The verb ending is changed to show what time it is referring to.
Time can be divided into three time periods.
- The present: What you do / What you are doing
- The past: What you did / What you were doing
- The future: What you will do / What you are going to do (hope to or plan to do)
The tenses we use to show what time we are referring to are divided into three different forms – simple, continuous, and perfect.
The simple tenses are used to express facts and things that are true. This tense is used to show permanent facts about people and events, or what happens by habit and or on a regular basis.
The continuous tenses are used to express something, which is happening at or around the time of speaking.
Discussing future can be difficult. To understand future, we need to train our minds to think of future as our present at a later time.
We then, start to see that in English grammar, simple present, present continuous, simple present perfect, and present perfect continuous can all be used and often it is possible to use more than one structure, but have the same meaning.
In many cases, you may find yourself needing to give just a little bit more information about the action or state-of-being – and this is where the perfect tense comes into play.
The perfect tense is used when an action or situation in the present is connected to a moment in the past. It is often used to show things that have happened up to now but aren’t finished yet or to emphasize that something happened but is not true anymore.
The critical part is, when the end determines which of them you would use.
Note: The perfect tenses are never used when saying something happened, example: yesterday, last year, etc. but can be used when discussing the duration of something, example: often, for, always, since etc.
Forming Verb Tenses
Time is an essential part of what verbs are and what verbs do in how we use and understand the English language. Refer to the following graph.
|Present||teach/ s||am/is/are teaching||have/has taught||have/has been teaching|
|Past||taught||was/were teaching||had taught||had been teaching|
|Future||will/shall teach||will be teaching||will have taught||will have been teaching|