Table of English tenses

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I don’t know about you but I had always problems with tenses of English verbs, maybe because I’ve learned English by myself rather than in school. Anyway, English grammar is not impossible to learn if you find a pattern that is easy to follow and remember.  Below I have compiled a table of English tenses.

In English we have only three main tenses along the time axis:

  • past
  • present
  • future

Each of these main tenses is divided in four other subdivisions:

  • simple
  • continuous
  • perfect
  • perfect continuous

The resulted English tenses is just a Cartesian product of these two sets:

tensesWhen to use what? – that’s somewhat obvious:

  • past for events started and finished in the past or that are no longer true at the moment of speaking
  • present for events that happen at the moment of speaking or that are scheduled to happen in the near future
  • future for events that will happen in the future

How are these tenses constructed? Can we find and use a pattern? Yes, we can:

Past Present Future
Simple verb+ed verb+s/es* will+verb
Continuous was/were+verb-ptp am/is/are+verb-pp will+be+verb
Perfect had+verb-ptp has/have+verb-ptp will+have+verb-ptp
Perfect continuous had+been+verb-pp has/have+been+verb-pp will+have+been+verb-pp


  • verb is the verb at infinitive form
  • verb-ptp is the past participle of the verb
  • verb-pp is the present participle of the verb
  • * applies only when used in third person

In addition to the above links examples, one good online resource that I treasure a lot is Seonaid’s website called “Perfect English Grammar“. Seonaid is a British native speaker of English. She has a Master’s degree (M Phil) from Cambridge University in English and Linguistics.

Have fun!


About Eugen Mihailescu

Always looking to learn more about *nix world, about the fundamental concepts of arithmetic, algebra and geometry. I am also passionate about programming, database and systems administration.
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