What Are Tenses?

Every day we talk about most if the things we did in the past, things we are going to do in the future and the things we are doing now. Verbs change form to show time.

The six main forms are called tenses. We use three key parts of a verb to build those six tenses: base or present tense; past tense; and future tense. The present participle and past participle must always have a helping verb to be used as a verb.

Examples of tenses:

To reveal when things occur, we require conjugating our verbs uniquely. Here are samples of the three main verb tenses:

  • John called me. Past Tense
  • I talked to Mark. Past Tense
  • Trump calls me. Present Tense
  • I call President. Present Tense
  • Uncle will call me. Future Tense
  • I will communicate with my Father. Future Tense

The six tenses show time from present, past and to future. A brief explanation of the six follows.

Present tense

Present tense shows action or condition existing at present. It uses the base or present form without any helping verb or verbs. The third-person-singular form of the present tense often adds -s or -es to the base form; irregular verbs differ.


  • Sally walks home from school on
  • They speak about their main concern.

Past tense

Past tense shows conditions beginning and ending in the past. The past form of the verb, which is used, doesn’t have any helping verbs. Verbs ending in -ed. The others have unusual past tense forms and must be learned.


  • I attended the seminar yesterday
  • They wrote the examination this morning
  • She went there together with her mum

Future tense

Future tense involves an action that will begin in the future, that has not yet happened, using the helping verb shall or will before the base form of the main verb.


  • We shall produce the book for recording before the meeting
  • They will arrive before the actual time
  • I will surely go to church on Sunday

Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Tense uses the helping verb has or have before the past participle of the main verb. This tense shows action that started in the past and extends into the present, or which happened at an unspecified time. This tense is formed by using ‘has/have’ with the past participle of the verb.


  • They have spoken for 2 hours
  • I have gone to the place.
  • They have been admitted to the hospital since the last couples of weeks.

Past Perfect Tense

Past Perfect Tense expresses an action that took place in the past before another past action. This tense is formed by using ‘had’ with the past participle of the verb.


  • When we were ready to leave office, she had walked to the road.
  • They had gone before they made a decision
  • The house had collapsed since last year

Future Perfect Tense

Future Perfect Tense describes an action that will occur in the future before some other action. This tense is formed by using ‘will have’ with the past participle of the verb. (“I will have gone”).


  • They will have spoken by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • I will have gone to the place before then

For writing, though, we usually use present or past tense for the majority of the exposition. Not being harmonious with verb tenses causes problems.

Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.

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