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ENGLISH TENSES

A) PRESENT TENSES
1. The Simple Present Tense (Present simple)

* Form
In the affirmative the simple present has the same form as the infinitive but adds an s or
es for the third person singular.
Sg.

Pl.

1. I work

1. we work

2. you work

2. you work

3. he/she/it works

3. they work

The negative form is formed by using the Present Tense of the verb to do, the adverb not
and the Infinitive of the verb without the preposition to.

Negative form = I do + not + infinitive

1. I do not work

1. we do not work

2. you do not work

2. you do not work

3. he/she /it does not work

3. they do not work

The interrogative form is formed by using the interrogative form of the verb to do (which
is formed by inversion) and the Infinitive of the verb without the preposition to.

Interrogative form = do I + Infinitive

Sg.

Pl.

1. Do I work?

1. Do we work?

2. Do you work?

2. Do you work?

3. Does he/she/it work?

3. Do they work?

The use of the Simple Present Tense

- The Present Tense is used to denote a habitual action. We can always add every day,
from time to time, repeatedly, etc.

The porter locks the door. (Regularly, every evening, etc.)


I go to school. (Every day)
John sings in the choir. (From time to time)

The Present Tense is used in general statements. (No time is thought of.)

He speaks English very well.


Some animals live in caves.

The Present Tense is used to denote a general truth.

The sun rises in the east.


The moon goes round the earth.

The Present Tense is used to denote a fixed future action

Mary leaves tomorrow and Peter comes back next Friday.


The ship sails tonight.

The Present Tense is used in clauses beginning with if, when, as soon as, before, till
(until).

You will see him when he gets up.


If he wants, he may stay there.
Wait till bus stops.
I shall do it as soon as I get home.
The rain will stop before the ship reaches the port.

2. Present Continuous Tense

Form

It is formed by using the Present Tense Indefinite of the verb to be and the Present Participle
of the verb required.

Sg.

Pl.

1. I am working

1. we are working

2. you are working

2. you are working

3. he/she/it is working

3. they are working

Interrogative form

Sg.

Pl.

1. Am I working?

1. Are we working?

2. Are you working?

2. Are you working?

3. Is he/she/it working?

3. Are they working?

Negative form

1. I am not working

1. we are not working

2. You are not working

2. you are not working

3. He/she/it is not working

3. they are not working

Use

The Present Continuous expresses an action which takes place when we speak. We can
add now, at this moment.)

We are learning English now.

It denotes a durative action, an action going on, a process.

She is growing older.

It expresses a future action which has already been settled and has become a part of
someones present programme.

We are going to the cinema tonight.

3. The Present Perfect Tense (Present Perfect)

Form

The Perfect Tense is formed with the Present Tense of have + the past participle ( I have
worked.)
The past participle in regular verbs has exactly the same form as the simple past (loved,
walked, etc.)
In irregular verbs, the past participle vary (see table)

The negative is formed by adding not to the auxiliary.


The interrogative is formed by inverting the auxiliary and subject.

Affirmative

Negative

Interrogative

1. I have worked / made

I have not worked/made

Have I worked / made?

2. You have worked/made

You have not worked/made

Have you worked / made?

3. He/she/it has worked/ made. He/she/it has not worked/made. Ha he/she/itworked/made?

1. We have worked/made.

We have not worked/made.

Have we worked/made?

2. You have worked/ made

you have not worked/made

Have you worked/made?

3. They have worked/ made.

They have not worked/made.

Have they worked/made?

Use

The Perfect Tense is used to denote an action, or a state beginning in the past and
continuing up to the moment of speaking.

I have lived in Zagreb for ten years.


You have learned English for five years.

The Perfect Tense expresses a completed action, the consequences or results of which
are still felt.

You have made two mistakes (and here they are now).
I have written a letter (and here it is).

The Perfect Tense can be used with all expressions of time which include the present
moment: now, today, this week, this year, ever, never, already, always, not yet, since,
for.

We have visited the picture gallery today.

Have you already posted the letter?


I have not seen him since last Monday.

4. The Present Perfect Continuous Tense (Present Perfect Continuous)

Form

It is formed by the Present Perfect of the verb to be + the present participle.

Affirmative: I have been working, he has been working etc


Negative: I have not/ haven't been working.
Interrogative: Have I been working? Etc

Use

This tense is used for an action which began in the past and is still continuing or + only
just finished.

I have been waiting for an hour and he still has not turned up.
Im sorry Im late. Have you been waiting long?

The Perfect Continuous denotes an action which began some time before the present
moment and will probably continue for some time after.

The boys have been learning their lessons.

B) PAST TENSES
1. The Simple Past Tense ( Past Simple)

Form

It is formed either by adding a suffix (e)d (regular verbs) or by changing the root vowel
(irregular verbs).

1. I asked

1. we asked

2. you asked

2. you asked

3. he/she/it asked

3. they asked

The negative of regular and irregular verbs is formed with did not (didnt) and the
infinitive:
I did not work. (I didnt work)
You did not work. (You didnt work)
The interrogative of regular and irregular verbs is formed with did + subject + infinitive:

Did I work?

Did you work?

etc.

Use

- It is used for actions completed in the past at a definite time.

I met him yesterday.

It is used to denote an action which took place in the past and has no connection with the
present moment.

Peter broke the window yesterday.


The students visited the British Museum last year.

It is used in subordinate clauses after I wish, if, as if, as though, suppose, its timeto
express something desirable, imagined, supposed, etc.

I wish I had such a friend.


You talk as I was responsible for the accident.

2. The Past Continuous Tense (Past Continuous)

Form

It is formed by the Past Tense of the verb to be + the present participle.

Affirmative

1. I was working

Negative

I was not working

Interrogative

was I working?

2. You were working

you were not working

were you working?

3. He/she/it was working

He/she/it was not working

was he/she/it working?

1. We were working?

We were not working?

Were we working?

2. You were working?

You were not working?

Were you working?

3. They were working?

They were not working?

Were they working?

Use

If an action began in the past, lasted for a certain time and was not ended when another
past action happened, it is expressed by the Past Continuous.

My mother was playing the piano when I entered the room.


(My mother did not stop playing the piano when I entered the room.)

If two past actions are going on simultaneously, they are both expressed by the Preterit
Continuous.

While all workers were packing their bag, the clock was striking twelve.
He was singing while his sister was playing the piano.

3. The Past Perfect Tense (Past Perfect)

Form

This tense is formed with had and the past participle.

Affirmative:

1. I had worked

1. we had worked

2. you had worked

2. you had worked

3. he/she/it had worked

3 they had worked

Negative:

1. I had not worked

1. we had not worked

2. you had not worked

2. you had not worked

3. he/she/it had not worked

3. they had not worked

Interrogative:

1. Had I worked?

1. Had we worked?

2. Had you worked?

2. Had you worked?

3. Had he/she/it worked?

3. Had they worked?

4.

Use

it denotes a past action finished before another past action began or was finished

He had lost his watch before we reached the village.


The boat had sunk before the rescue party found it.

it is used in Indirect Speech as a substitute for the Perfect Tense and Past Tense in Direct
Speech.

He said: I have been in England for ten years.


He said that he had been in England for ten years.

it is used in Conditional Clauses if -clauses- to express something supposed,


imaginedetc.

If he had been educated, he would have helped you much more.

5. The Past Perfect Continuous Tense (Past Perfect Continuous)

Form

It is formed with had been + the present participle. It is therefore the same for all persons:

I had been working.


They had been working. (They hadnt been working.)

Negative:

They had not been working.


You had not been working.

Interrogative:

Had you been working?


Had they been working?

* Use

When the action began before the time of speaking in the past, and continued up that
time, or stopped just before it, we can often use either form.

It was now six and he was tired because he had worked since dawn.

It was now six and he was tired because he had been working since dawn.

A repeated action in the past perfect can sometimes be expressed as a continuous action
by the past perfect continuous.

He had tried five times to get her on the phone.


He had been trying to get her o the phone.

it is used in Indirect Speech as a substitute for the Perfect Continuous and the Past
Continuous in Direct Speech.

The journalist reported that the crowd had been shouting very much.

C) THE FUTURE
There are several ways of expressing the future in English.
a) The simple present
b) Will + infinitive (used for intention)
c) The present Continuous
d) The be going to form
e) The 'future simple' will/ shall + infinitive
Etc.

a) The simple present

This tense
can be used with a time expression for a definite future arrangement:
The boys start school on Monday.
I leave tonight.

b) Will + infinitive (intention)

It is used to express intention at the moment of decision.

The phone is ringing. I will answer it.

c) The present continuous

- The present continuous can express a definite arrangement in the near future.

I am taking an exam in October. (Implies that I have entered for it)


Bob and Bill are meeting tonight (implies that Bob and Bill have arranged this)

It can express a decision or plan without any definite arrangement.

I am going home tonight. / I am leaving tonight.

Note also:

What are you doing next summer? (This is the usual way of asking people about their
plans.)

Possible answers:
I am going to the seaside.
I am not doing anything.
I am staying at home.

d) The be going to form

It is formed by the present continuous tense of the verb to go + the full infinitive.

I am going to buy a bicycle.


She is not going to be there.

The form is used:


a) for intention
b) for prediction

a) for intention
-

be going to can be used for the near future with a time expression as an alternative to the
present continuous

I am meeting Tom at the station at six. (Implies an arrangement with Tom)


I am going to meet Tom at the station at six. (does not; Tom may get a surprise!)

can be used with time clauses when we wish to emphasize the subject's intention:

He is going to be a dentist when he grows up.


What are you going to do when you get your degree?

be going to can be used without a time expression:

He is going to lend me his bicycle.

b) for prediction
The be going to form can express the speakers feeling or certainty. The time is usually not
mentioned, but the action is expected to happen in the near or immediate future:

Look at those clouds! It is going to rain.


Listen to the wind. We are going to have a rough crossing.

f) The 'future simple' will/ shall + infinitive

The Future Tense is formed by using shall for the first persons singular and plural and
will for all the other persons singular and plural.

1. I shall ask

1. we shall ask

2. you will ask

2. you will ask

3. he/she/it will ask

3. they will ask

The Future Tense is used to express pure futurity.

I shall return tomorrow.


You will hear the news next week.

If will is used in the first person, the Future Tense expresses desire, intention, promise or
determination and in the negative form refusal.

I will do it for you.


The bus is too late. We will walk home.
I wont join you.

THE PASSIVE VOICE

The passive of an active tense is formed by putting the verb to be into the same tense as the
active verb and adding the past participle of the active verb.

The subject of the active verb becomes the 'agent' of the passive verb. (The agent is very
often not mentioned.
When it is mentioned it is preceded by by and placed at the end of the clause:

This tree was planted by my grandmother.

Active tenses and their passive equivalents

Tense/ Verb form

Active voice

Passive voice

Present Simple

keeps

Present Continuous

is keeping

is being keeping

Past Simple

kept

was kept

Past Continuous

was keeping

was being kept

Present Perfect

has kept

has been kept

Past Perfect

had kept

had been kept

Future

will keep

will be kept

Examples of present, past and perfect passive tenses:

Active: We keep the butter here.

is kept

Passive: The butter is kept here.

Active: They broke the window.


Passive: The window is being broken.

Active: People have seen wolves in the streets.


Passive: Wolves have been seen in the streets.

Examples of present and past continuous

Active: They are repairing the bridge.


Passive: The bridge is being repaired.

Active: They were carrying the injured player off the field.
Passive: The injured player was being carried off the field.