TENSES

 

1. PRESENT SIMPLE

a. Form

Subjects Verbs
I, You, We, They Am/ do
He, She, It Is/ does

* Spelling of verbs + “-s”

– The normal rule is to add “-s” to the base form of the verb.

Ex: wants, eats, helps, drives…

– Add “-es” to verbs that end in “-ss, -sh, -ch, -x, and –o”

Ex: kisses, washes, watches, fixes, goes…

– Verbs that end in a consonant + “y” change to “-ies”. But verbs which end in vowel + “y” only add “-s”.

Ex: carries, flies, tries, worries…

Buys, says, plays, enjoys…

b. Use:

The present is one of the most common tenses in English. It can refer to the present (now), but it also can refer to all time and regular time. It is used to express:

– To express an action that happens again and again, that is a habit or customary action.

Ex: I often get up at 6:00. She goes to school by bus. I wash my hair twice a week.

– To express a fact, which is always true.

Ex: the sun rises in the east. The earth revolves around the sun

– To express a fact, which stays the same for a long time (a state).

Ex: I live in Hanoi. She works in a bank. I prefer coffee to tea.

– Present simple for timetables: refers to a future event that is seen as unalterable because it is based on a timetable or calendar.

Ex: my flight leaves at 10:00. What time does the film start?

*Note: we often use adverbs of frequency with the present simple.

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Never rarely not often sometimes often usually always

 

2. PRESENT CONTINUOUS

a. Form

Subject Tobe Verbs
I Am Ving
He, She, It Is
We, You, They Are

* Spelling of verbs + -Ing

– The normal rule is to add “-Ing” to the base form of the verbs.

Ex: going, wearing, visiting, eating…

– Verbs that end in “-e” lose “e”. But verbs that end in “-ee” do not lose an “e”

Ex: smoking, coming, hoping, writing… agreeing, seeing…

– In verbs of one syllable, with one consonant, the consonant is doubled. But if the final consonant is “-y” or “-w”, it is not doubled.

Ex: stopping, getting, running, planning, jogging… playing, showing…

b. Use

– An activity happening now.

Ex: They are playing football in the garden. It is heavily raining now.

– An activity happening around now, but perhaps not at the moment of speaking.

Ex: She is studying English at university. I am reading a good book by Henry James.

– A planned future arrangement.

Ex: I am meeting Miss Boyd at 10 o’clock tomorrow. He is leaving for Paris next week.

– Express the change and the development.

Ex: Things are getting better. She is getting fatter and fatter.

– The temporary or repeated actions.

Ex: My car has broken down, so I am walking to work these days. Are you playing badminton?

– Express the bad habits, often go with some adverbs: “constantly, continually, forever…”

Ex: You are always complaining about my studying. She is continually saying that she is tired and bored.

* Note: some feeling, thinking, and opinion verbs are not used in present continuous: “love, like, dislike, desire, wish, forgive, smell, hear, think, recognize, believe, feel, understand…”and some possessive adjectives are also not used in present continuous: “own, possess, belong, owe…”

3. PRESENT PERFECT

a. Form

Have/ has + Ved (past participle)

Subjects Verbs Ved
I/ you/ we/ they Have
He/ she/ it Has

b. Use

– The present perfect looks back from the present into the past, and expresses what has happened before now. The action happened at an indefinite time in the past.

Ex: I have met a lot of famous people. (Before now) She has won awards. (In her life)

– It expresses a past action that has a present result. The action is usually in the recent past.

Ex: I have lost my key. The taxi hasn’t arrived.

He has written 25 books. (Up to now)

– The action can continue to the present, and probably into the future.

Ex: she has lived here for 10 years. (She still lives here)

– The present perfect expresses an experience as part of someone’s life. “Never, ever” are common with this use.

Ex: I’ve travelled a lot in Africa. They have lived all over the world. Have you ever been in a car crash? My mother has never flown in a plane.

– The present perfect expresses an action or state, which began in the past and continues to the present.

Ex: I have known Alice for 6 years. How long have you worked as a teacher?

*Note: the time expressions for and since are common with this use. We use for with a period of time, and since with a point in time.

Ex: we have lived here for 3 years. (A period of time)

I’ve had a beard since I left the army.

– The present perfect expresses a past action with result in the present. It is often a recent past action.

Ex: I have lost my wallet. (I haven’t got it now)

The taxi has arrived. (It’s outside the door now)

* Note: the adverb “just, already, yet” are common with this use. “Yet” is used in questions and negative.

Ex: she has just had some good news. I’ve already had breakfast. Has the postman been yet?

* Present perfect and past simple

– Past simple:

+ Refers to an action that happened at a definite time in the past, and the action is finished.

Ex: he died in 1889. She got married when she was 18.

+ Time expressions + the past simple.

Ex: I bought my car in 2000/ last year/ two years ago/ on March 20. I lived in Hanoi for a year (but not now).

– Present perfect

+ Refers to an action that happened at an indefinite time in the past. The action can continue to the present.

Ex: she has won awards. He has written 15 books. She has lived there for 20 years (and she still does).

+ Time expressions + the present perfect.

Ex: I have worked here for 3 years/ since 2002/ since I left school. We have never been to America.

4. PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS

a. Form

Subjects Verbs Been + Ving
I/ you/ we/ they Have
He/ she/ it Has

b. Use

– To express an activity which began in the past and continues to the present.

Ex: we have been walking here for hours. I have been learning English since I was in secondary school.

– To refer to an activity with a result in the present. The past activity might be finished or it might not. The context usually makes this clear.

Ex: I am hot because I have been running. He has been learning all morning. I’m sorry I am late, have you been waiting long? Look outside the window! It’s been snowing! I am covered in paint because I have been decorating the bathroom.

– The action may have ended recently. We can also use this tense for a series of repeated actions.

Ex: I have been going to evening classes.

*Note:

+ Sometime there is little or no difference in meaning between the present perfect simple and continuous.

Ex: How long have you worked/ have you been working here? I’ve ironed/ have been ironing 5 shirts this morning.

+ Think of the verbs that have the idea of a long time, for example, wait, work, learn, travel, play. These verbs can be found in the present perfect continuous. Think of the verbs that do not have the idea of a long time, for example, find, start, buy, die, lose, break, stop. It is unusual to find these verbs in the present perfect continuous. These verbs can be found in the present perfect.

Ex: I have been playing tennis since I was a child. I have bought a new house. My cat has died. My radio has broken.

+ Verbs that express a state, for example, like, love, know, have for possession, and “are” not found in the present perfect continuous.

Ex: we have known each other for 5 years. (Not use: have been knowing).

How long have you had your car? (Not use: have you been having).

+ The present perfect simple looks at the completed action. This is why, if the sentence gives a number or a quantity, the present perfect simple is used. The continuous is not possible.

Ex: he has written three letters today. (Not use: has been writing)

5. PAST SIMPLE

a. Spelling

– The normal rule is to add “ed” after regular verbs.

Work => worked, start => started, play => played…

– If the verb ends in _e, add _d

Love => loved, like=> liked, change => changed

– If the verb has only one syllable + one vowel + one consonant, double the consonant. The consonant is not doubled if it is “y” or “w”

Stop => stopped, plan => planned, travel => travelled…

Played, Showed…

– In most two-syllable verbs, the end consonant is doubled if the stress is on the second syllable.

Ex: preferred, admitted…

– If the verb ends in a consonant + y, change the “_y” to “_ied”

Study => studied, try => tried, deny => denied

There are many common irregular verbs.

b. Form

The form of the present is the same for all persons.

Subjects Verb
I/ you/ we/ they/ he/ she/ it V + “ed”

c. Use

– The past simple expresses a past action that is now finished.

Ex: we played tennis last Sunday. I began to learn English 10 years ago. John left 2 hours ago.

– To express actions which follow each other in a story.

Ex: Mary walked into the room and stopped. She listened carefully. She heard a noise coming from behind the curtain. She threw the curtain open, and then she saw…He woke up early, jumped out of bed, dressed quickly and without having breakfast, left home.

– To express a past situation or habit.

Ex: when I was a child, we lived in a small house by the sea. Everyday I walked for miles on the beach with my dog.

– Notice the time expressions that are used with past simple: “last year, ago, yesterday, in 1990…”

Ex: I was born in 1897. She met her teacher at the school yesterday.

6. PAST CONTINUOUS

a. Form

Subject Tobe Ving
I/ she/ he/ it Was
You/ we/ they Were

b. Use

– We often use the past continuous in sentences together with the past simple when this happens; the past continuous refers to longer, “background” activities, while the past simple refers to shorter actions that happened in the middle of the longer ones.

Ex: when I went to school, I saw Jim was talking with a beautiful girl.

– The past continuous expresses a past activity that has duration.

Ex: I met her while I was walking on the street. You were making a lots noise last night. We were playing football yesterday afternoon.

– The activity began “before” the action expressed by the past simple.

Ex: she was making coffee when we arrived. When I phoned Marry, she was having dinner.

– The past continuous expresses an activity in progress before, and probable after, a time in the past.

Ex: when I woke up this morning, the sun was shining. What were you doing at 8 o’ clock last night?

* Compare past simple and past continuous

– The past simple expresses past actions as simple facts.

Ex: I did my homework last night. What sis you do yesterday evening? “I watched TV”.

– The past continuous gives past activities time and duration. The activity can be interrupted.

Ex: what were you doing at 7.00? “I was watching TV. I was doing homework when Tom arrived.

– In stories, the past continuous can describe the scene. The past simple tells the actions.

Ex: it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the birds were singing, so we decided to go for a picnic. We put everything in the car…

– The questions below refer to different time periods. The past continuous asks about activities before, and the past simple asks about what happened after.

What were you doing?What did you do? When it started to rain We were playing tennis.We went home.

7. PAST PERFECT

a. Form: Had + Ved

Subjects Verb
I/ you/ we/ they/ he/ she/ it Had + Ved

b. Use:

– The past perfect is used to express an action in the past, which happened before another action in the past.

Ex: when I got home, John had cooked a meal.

*Note: the use of past perfect and the past simple in the following sentences.

Ex: when I got home, John had cooked a meal. (John cooked a meal before I got home)

When I got home, John cooked a meal. (First I got home, and then John cooked)

8. PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS

a. Form

Subjects Verb
I/ you/ we/ they/ he/ she/ it Had + been + Ving

b. Use

– To express an action was happening before another action in the past.

Ex: by 9 o’clock last night, the pilot had been flying nine hours non-stop. They had been waiting for someone when they saw John go with a strange man. The football match had to be stopped. They had been playing half an hour when there was a heavy rain.

– We this tense for an action that went on over a period before a past time.

Ex: when I found the file, I’d been looking for it for some time. (The action of looking went on for some time before the discovery of the life.) When I saw Tom, he ‘d been playing golf. (I saw him after the game.)

9. SIMPLE FUTURE TENSE

English has several forms that can refer to the future. Three of there are “will. Going to, and the present continuous”. The difference between them is not about near or distant future, or about certainty. The speakers choose a future form depending on when the decision was taken, and how the speakers see the future event.

a. Form

Subjects Verbs
I/ you/ we/ they/ he/ she/ it Will /(shall)

b. Use

– To express a future decision or intention made at the moment of speaking.

Ex: I will give you my phone number. I have left the door open; I will go and shut it. I am too tired to walk now; I think I will get a taxi.

– To express an offer.

Ex: I will carry your suitcase. Will you go with me? Will you open the door for me? We will do washing-up.

– It also expresses a future fact. The speaker thinks, “This action is sure to happen in the future”. This use like a neutral future tense. The speaker is predicting the future, without expressing an intention, plan, or personal.

Ex: tomorrow’s weather will be warm and sunny. It will rain. He will finish his work next month. It will be right. Don’t worry. If you go to Vietnam, you will see many interesting things there.

– “Will”: for a prediction can be based more on an opinion than a fact of evidence. It is often found with expression such as: “I think; I am sure…”

*Note: “Tobe going to”

a. Form

Subjects Tobe Verbs
I Am Going to + Vinf
He/ she/ it Is
You/ we/ they Are

b. Use

– To express a future decision, intention, or plan made before the moment of speaking.

Ex: how long are they going to stay in Vietnam? I am going to study harder for the test. I am going to write to Tom this evening. I know what you are going to say.

– When we can see or feel now hat something is certain to happen in the future, and based on present facts.

Ex: look at these clouds! It is going to rain. Watch out! The box is going to fall. Carefully, the car is going to come. She is going to have a baby.

– The present continuous can be used in a similar way for a plan of arrangement, particularly with the verbs “go, come”

Ex: she is coming on Friday. I am going home early tonight.

* The present continuous can be used to express a future

– Arrangement between people. It usually refers the near future.

Ex: we are going out with Tom tonight. What are we having for lunch?

– Think of the things you might put in your diary to remind you of what you are doing over the next few days and weeks. These are the kinds of events that are often expressed by the present continuous for the future. The verbs express some kinds of activity of movement.

Ex: I am meeting Peter tonight. I am seeing the doctor in the morning. We are going to party on Saturday night.

– Sometimes there is no difference between an agreed arrangement (present continuous) and an intension (going to).

Ex: we are going to get / are getting married in the spring.

10. FUTURE CONTINUOUS

a. Form: will/ shall + be + Ving

b. Use

– We use this tense for an action that we will be in the middle of.

Ex: in a week’s time, I’ll be lying in the sun. we will be having tea at 7o’clock.

– The future continuous expresses an activity that will be in progress before and after a time in the future.

Ex: don’t phone at 8:00. We will be having supper. This time tomorrow I will be flying to New York. This time tomorrow we will be working in this field. What will you be doing this time tomorrow?

– The future continuous is used to refer to a future event that will happen in the natural course of event. This use is uncoloured by ideas such as intention, decision, arrangement, or willingness. As time goes by, this event will occur.

Ex: don’t worry about our guests. They will be arriving any minute now. We will be going right back to the football after the break. (Said on television). I will be going to the centre later. Can I get you anything?

– We also use this tense for an action, which will result from a routine or arrangement.

Ex: I will be phoning my mother tonight. (It’s part of my regular routine). The Queen will be arriving soon. (It’s is part of her schedule)

11. FUTURE PERFECT

a. Form: will/ shall + have + past participle (P2)

b. Use:

– The future perfect refers to an action that will be completed before a definite time in the future.

Ex: I will have done all my homework by this evening. I will have finished the book by the next week. By the end of the month, I will have been here for three years.

– To express an action will finish and relate to another action in the future.

Ex: the taxi will have arrived by the time you finish dressing. When we arrive, they will have had dinner. Before he leaves, I will have met him.

– We also use this tense to talk about something being over in the future.

Ex: I will have finished this book soon. (I’m nearly at the end). Tom won’t have completed his studies until he is 24.

12. FUTURE PERFECT CONTINUOUS

a. Form: will/ shall + have + been + Ving

b. Use:

– To express an action that will be happening before another action in the future.

Ex: when I get my diplomat, I will have been learning at this school for 3 years. Mike is leaving next month; he will have been working here 20 years.

– We use this form when we imagine looking back from the future; it also focuses on the action going on. Ex: I will have been writing the report for a week.