Thinking Box

Understanding & Using English Grammar - Chapter 1: Overview of Verb Tenses

1-1 The Simple Tenses

  • Simple Present
    (past) -x-x-x- + -x-x-x- (future)
    (a) It snows in Alaska.
    (b) Tom watches TV every day.

    In general, the simple present expresses events or situations that exist always, usually, habitually; they existed in the past, and probably will exist in the future.

  • Simple Past
    (past) ---x--- + ------ (future)

    (c) It snowed yesterday.
    (d) Tom watched TV last night.

    At one particular time in the past, this happened. It began and ended in the past.

  • Simple Future
    (past) ------ + ---x--- (future)
    (e) It will snow tomorrow. / It is going to snow tomorrow.
    (f) Tom will watch TV tonight. / Tom is going to watch TV tonight.

    At one particular time in the future, this will happen.

1-2 The Progressive Tenses

Form: be + -ing (present participle)
Meaning: The progressive tenses give the idea that an action is in progress during a particular time. The tenses say that an action begins before, is in progress during, and continues after another time or action.

  • Present Progressive
    (past) ---x(10pm)--- +(11pm) ---↲--- (future)
    (a) Tom is sleeping right now.

    It is now 11:00. Tom went to sleep at 10:00 tonight, and he is still asleep. His sleep began in the past, is in progress at the present time, and probably will continue.

  • Past Progressive
    (past) ---x(10pm)---x(11pm)--↲- + ------ (future)
    (b) Tom was sleeping when I arrived.

    Tom went to sleep at 10:00 last night. I arrived at 11:00. He was still asleep. His sleep began before and was in progress at a particular time in the past. It continued after I arrived.

  • Future Progressive
    (past) ------ + ---x(10pm)---x(11pm)--↲- (future)
    (c) Tom will be sleeping when we arrive.

    Tom will go to sleep at 10:00 tomorrow night. We will arrive at 11:00. The action of sleeping will begin before we arrive, and it will be in progress at a particular time in the future. Probably his sleep will continue.

1-3 The Perfect Tenses

Form: have + past participle
Meaning: The perfect tenses all give the idea that one thing happens before another time or event.

  • Present Perfect
    (past) ---x(eat & time?)--- + ------ (future)
    (a) Tom has already eaten.

    Tom finished eating sometime before now. The exact time is not important.

  • Past Perfect
    (past) ---x(eat & time?)---x(arrive)--- + ------ (future)
    (b) Tom had already eaten when his friend arrived.

    First Tom finished eating. Later his friend arrived. Tom's eating was completely finished before another time in the past.

  • Future Perfect
    (past) ------ + ---x(eat)---(arrive)--- (future)
    (c) Tom will already have eaten when his friend arrives.

    First Tom will finish eating. Later his friend will arrive. Tom's eating will be completely finished before another time in future.

1-4 The Perfect Progressive Tenses

Form: have + been + -ing (present participle)
Meaning: The perfect progressive tenses give the idea that one event is in progress immediately before, up to, until another time or event. The tenses are used to express the duration of the first event.

  • Present Perfect Progressive
    ---x(2 hrs)---+ ------
    (a) Tom has been studying for two hours.

    Event in progress: studying.
    When? Before now, up to now.
    How long? For two hours.

  • Past Perfect Progressive
    (past) ---x(2 hrs)---x↲--- + ------ (future)
    (b) Tom had been studying for two hours before his friend came.

    Event in progress: studying.
    When? Before another event in the past.
    How long? For two hours.

  • Future Perfect Progressive
    (past) ------ + ---x---x(2hrs)↲--- (future)
    (c) Tom will have been studying for two hours by the time his friend arrives.

    Event in progress: studying.
    When? Before another event in the future.
    How long? For two hours.

1-5 Summary of Verb Tenses

  • Simple Present
    Tom studies every day.
  • Present Progressive
    Tom is studying right now.
  • Simple Past
    Tom studied last night.
  • Past Progressive
    Tom was studying when they came.
  • Simple Future
    Tom will study tomorrow.
    Tom is going to study tomorrow.
  • Future Progressive
    Tom will be studying when they come.
    Tom is going to be studying when they come.
  • Present Perfect
    Tom has already studied Chapter 1.
  • Present Perfect Progressive
    Tom has been studying for two hours.
  • Past Perfect
    Tom had already studied Chapter 1 before he began studying Chapter 2.
  • Past Perfect Progressive
    Tom had been studying for two hours before his friends came.
  • Future Perfect
    Tom will already have studied Chapter 4 before he studies Chapter 5.
  • Future Perfect Progressive
    Tom will have been studying for two hours by the time his roommate gets home.

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