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ESL 100 ENGLISH VERB TENSES

NAME OF TENSE FORMATION USE/MEANING CLUES & CAUTIONS


PRESENT I am 1. right now 1. now
CONTINUOUS He, she, it is 2. during this period 2. today, this week,
(PROGRESSIVE) We, you, they are of time this semester
+_____ing 3. future, if the plan is • Watch out for
certain (They are noncontinuous
She’s watching TV. getting married in verbs.
August) • Don’t use DO with
BE,
SIMPLE PRESENT I, you, we, they + base 1. habit (He jogs Frequency adverbs:
form everyday.) everyday, always,
He, she it + s or es 2. statement of fact usually, often,
(Cats eat meat.) sometimes, seldom,
3. a scheduled future rarely, never
event (The bus
leaves at 7:00)

FUTURE 1. I am; he, she, it is ; 1. a. future plan, Tomorrow, next week,


you, we, they are b.action that will next year
+ going + infinitive happen in the
(She’s going to go.) immediate future • Will is a modal.
(Look out! You’re going Don’t use DO with
to fall modals
c. prediction • Use only a base
2. will + base form 2. promise, offer, form of a verb after
prediction a modal
3. See present and (never write will going
present continuous &never write will goes)
tenses
SIMPLE PAST add ed to base form for finished past actions Dates (1850, 2001), ago,
regular verbs. For other when, yesterday, last
verbs, see an irregular night, last week, last
verb form list. month, last year
PAST CONTINUOUS I, he, she, it was 1.a past action that was While
(PROGRESSIVE) We, you, they were continuing to go on (I
was watching TV last • Don’t use DID with
+________ing night at 7:00.) was or were.
2.a past action that was
interrupted (We were
eating when the phone
rang.
PAST HABIT 1. used to + base 1.for a habitual state, • with did, drop the
form event or action that was ed. (Did you use to
2. true in the past but is no smoke?)
I used to live in New longer true • Don’t confuse used
York City. to with be used to
doing
3. would + base form 2.for expressing actions • Would can’t be
or events that occurred used to show
When I used to live in regularly during a period location or
New York City, I would in the past possession
always take a taxi to the
theater.
FUTURE IN THE 1. was/were going for events or actions that Examples:
PAST to___ were planned in the past We knew the wedding
2. would + base verb was going to be on
June 15, but we didn’t
know where it would
take place.
PRESENT PERFECT I, you we, they have Relates the past to the 1. for, since
He, she it has present time • You must use for or
1. for an action or since for this
+ past participle (ed for situation that began meaning
regular verbs, for in the past and • use for with length
irregular verbs see a list continues into the of time and since
of irregular verbs) present (I’ve been with a specific time
sick since Tuesday 2. so far, today, this
and I’m still sick. month, this
2. For a repeated past semester
action or for a 3. ever, never,
period of time that is already, yet
not finished (We’ve • Don’t use specific
had three exams this time with this
semester.) meaning (Don’t
3. For a past action write “She has
when the specific arrived yesterday.”)
time is not • Yet is only used
mentioned, any time with questions and
before now (She's negatives
found a new job.) 4. just
4. For an action • Don’t use specific
completed in the time with this
immediate past meaning
(They’ve just
finished eating.) • Don’t use do or did
with present perfect
PRESENT PERFECT I, you, we, they have 1. for an action or for, since with meaning
CONTINUOUS He, she, it has situation that began #1 (same as meaning #1
(PROGRESSIVE) in the past and of present perfect)
+been +_______ing continues into the • Don’t use do or did
present • Watch out for
(It has been raining all noncontinuous
day long, and it’s still verbs that cannot
raining now.) be used with this
2. for an action that has tense:
just stopped within the be
last few minutes (It’s have (possession)
been raining. It’s not own
raining now, but the know
streets are still wet.)
PAST PERFECT had + past participle 1. when telling a story By the time, after,
about the past, for before
an action that Example: By the time
happened before the he came home, his
story began family had already
2. for an action that eaten.
happened before • Don’t use do or did
another past action