There are three main verb tenses in English grammar: present simple or simple present, the past simple or simple past and the future. Each of these tenses also has a continuous or progressive aspect, a perfect aspect and a perfect progressive.
In the following pages, you will find a detailed explanation of the various verb tenses and aspects in the English language. Simply click on one of the links below to learn more about that topic then put your knowledge to the test in the interactive exercises.
In the overview of English verb tenses, you will find all of the English tenses, along with examples of their construction and tips on correct usage.
- he goes
he is going
he has gone
he will go
The simple present describes actions that take place in the present, happen once or repeatedly, happen one after the other, are fact, or are predetermined.
- She often goes to the cinema.
The present progressive also called the present continuous describes actions that are taking place at the moment or speaking, temporary conditions or future arrangements.
- We are standing in front of the cinema.
We use the simple past to describe actions that started and ended in the past.
- We went to the cinema yesterday.
Use the English past progressive tense say exactly what was happening at a specific time in the past, or to express two actions happening at the same time.
- They were waiting in front of the cinema.
The present perfect indicates that an action has just taken place and is still influencing the present. The result of the action is emphasized.
- She has bought the tickets.
The present perfect progressive indicates that an action has lasted until the present moment, with emphasis on the process or passing of time.
- We have been queuing for the tickets for half an hour.
The past perfect is used for actions that took place before a certain point in the past.
- Before they went to the cinema, they had booked their tickets.
We use the past perfect progressive for actions that were in progress just before or leading up to a certain time in the past.
- Before they got their tickets, they had been queuing for half an hour.
The English future tense with will expresses a spontaneous decision, a prediction, or a future event that can’t be influenced.
- I will go to the cinema tonight.
The English future tense with going to expresses a logical conclusion or a future action that is already prepared or planned.
- Jane and I are going to the cinema tonight.
With the future progressive, we emphasise the progress or length of an action that will take place in the future.
- At 9 pm, we will be watching the film.
We use the future perfect to indicate that an action will have been completed by a certain point in the future.
- They will have returned from the cinema by 11 pm.
With the future perfect progressive, we emphasise the process or length of an action up to a certain point in the future.
- In two more minutes, we will have been queuing for half an hour.
The conditional I tense is mostly used in Type II if-clauses. The conditional I expresses an action that could take place under other circumstances.
- He would go to the cinema with us if he had time.
The Conditional II is mostly used in Type III Conditional Sentences. The Conditional II expresses an action that might have taken place under other conditions in the past.
- If we had booked tickets in advance, we wouldn’t have had to queue.