Uses of Tenses

In English grammar, we often use words to indicate the time of occurrence of an event. The verbs that indicate the time of occurrence are known as tenses. This topic deals with the introduction and uses of tenses.

Suggested Videos

previous arrow
next arrow
previous arrownext arrow


Introduction to Uses of Tenses

Primarily, There are three types of tenses:

  1. Past Tense– Include verbs that indicate that the event has occurred in the past.
  2. Present Tense- Include verbs that indicate an ongoing event or an event that is currently occurring in the present.
  3. Future Tense- Include verbs that indicate an event that is likely to occur in the future.

There are 4 aspects of each type of tense giving us a total of 12 types of tenses in English grammar. Did you know that English has just two ways of forming a tense from the main verb i.e the past and the present form? To form other tenses, we need the help of auxiliary verbs such as have, be or will.

Uses of Tenses

                                                                                                 (Source: Pinterest)

Browse more Topics under Tenses

Uses of Tenses

Simple Tenses

These tenses, as the name goes, are the simplest forms of each type of tense. They are used to indicate single actions in the past, present or future. Examples:

  • Simple Past Tense- I wore the dress yesterday
  • Simple Present Tense- I wear the dress every day.
  • The Simple Future Tense- I will wear the dress tomorrow.

Progressive or Continuous Tenses

Unlike simple tenses, progressive or continuous tenses are slightly more complex. They talk about events that are unfinished or ongoing as we speak. Examples:

  • Past Progressive Tense- She was writing her paper when I called out to her.
  • Present Progressive Tense- I am wearing my favorite dress.
  • Future Progressive Tense- She will be going to class when you call her.

Perfect Tenses

As the tenses get increasingly complex, next in line are perfect tenses. Perfect Tenses are used to indicate one event has occurred before another. Often, adverbs such as never, yet and already are used to indicate the perfect nature of the used tenses. Examples:

  • Past Perfect Tense- After she had moved out, I found her old photo album.
  • Present Perfect Tense- I have driven that road.
  • Future Perfect Tense- I will have completed my exam at the same time tomorrow.

 Perfect Progressive or Continuous Tenses

The perfect progressive tenses usually denote the ‘from when’ or’how long’ of an event or occurrence. They also always have the adverbs since or for in the sentence to indicate the continuous or progressive nature of the tense.

  • Present Perfect progressive is used to indicate an activity or event that has begun in the past and is still continuing into the future or to show something that has happened lately.
  • Past Perfect Progressive is used to indicate an event that has begun in the past and has continued to occur for some time in the past.
  • Future Perfect Progressive is used to denote an ongoing action that will be completed sometime in the future.


  • Past Perfect Progressive Tense- She had been living in that house until she died last month.
  • Present Perfect Progressive Tense- The cat has been hiding under the couch for over an hour now.
  • Future Perfect Tense- I will have been playing tennis for over 10 years by then.

Know you want to learn Future Tense?

Solved Example for You

Question: It ____________ (rain) since this morning.

(a)    Rained       (b) Has been raining

(c)     was raining       (d) is raining

Sol. (b) It has been raining. The use of the adverb ‘since’ indicates that it is a progressive perfect tense sentence. Since the sentence mentions ‘this morning’, it gives us an understanding that the event has started in the past and is continuing into the present. So, the correct form of the verb ‘rain’ is ‘has been raining’ and so option (b) is the correct answer.

This concludes our discussion of our discussion on the topics – the uses of tenses.

Share with friends

Customize your course in 30 seconds

Which class are you in?
Get ready for all-new Live Classes!
Now learn Live with India's best teachers. Join courses with the best schedule and enjoy fun and interactive classes.
Ashhar Firdausi
IIT Roorkee
Dr. Nazma Shaik
Gaurav Tiwari
Get Started

2 responses to “Uses of Tenses”

  1. Edwin says:

    What is the present perfect form of “He does not smoke”?
    What is the difference between “He does not have to smoke” and “He has not smoked”?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download the App

Watch lectures, practise questions and take tests on the go.

Customize your course in 30 seconds

No thanks.