Tense & Aspect

Tense is the form of verbs that show the time of action.

TIME

There are three times:

  • Present time
  • Past time
  • Future time.

TENSE

English verbs show many things. Verbs show the actions we do. Verbs also show us the time when we do it. To show the time, we use different forms of verbs. We call it tense. Remember that only verbs have tense. 

What is tense?

Tense is the form of verbs that show the time of an action. Tense tells you when the action happens. 

Types of tense

There are two tenses in English (i) the present tense and (ii) the past tense. English verbs do not have any future tense. We make future tense with the help of two modal verbs 'shall' and 'will'.

Present Tense

To show present time, we use the present forms of verbs and call it present tense. Look at the following examples: 

  • I go to school. 
  • She is catching fish.
  • They have finished the work. 

Past Tense

To show past time, we use the past forms of verbs and call it past tense. 

  • I went to school. 
  • She was catching fish.
  • They had finished the work. 

Future Tense

English verbs do not have any form of future tense. We use 'shall' / 'will' and the base form of a verb to make future tense. 

  • I shall go to school. 
  • She will be catching fish.
  • They will have finished the work. 
IMPORTANT

You have probably noticed that we use different forms of verbs to show different times. That is, the difference between tenses is the difference between the forms of verbs. 

ASPECT

Verbs show the time of action. We call it tense. Verbs also show whether the action is completed, progressive, or repeated. We call it aspect. Verbs have both tense and aspect. Verbal aspect is simple, progressive (continuous), perfect, or perfect progressive(continuous), each refers to a different fabric of time. 

Simple Tense

There are three simple tenses in English: 

(i) Present simple

(ii) Past simple

(iii) Future simple

Present Simple

We use the present forms of verbs to make present simple tenses. If the subject is third person singular, we add s or es to the verb. Present simple tenses mainly indicate present time. 

  • I go
  • He sleeps.

Past Simple

We use the past forms of verbs to make past simple tenses. Past simple tenses mainly indicate past time.

  • I went.
  • He slept.

 Future Simple

We use shall/will and the base form of verbs to make future simple tenses. Future simple tenses indicate future time.

  • I shall go
  • He will sleep.

Continuous Tense

We use an auxiliary Be + Present Participle form of a Lexical verb to make continuous tense (progressive aspect). Continuous tense means the action has started, but it is not yet complete. There are three continuous tenses. They are:

  • Present Continuous
  • Past Continuous
  • Future Continuous

Present Continuous

We use am/is/are + Present Participle form of a Lexical verb to make Present Continuous tense. 

  • I am going
  • He is sleeping.

 Past Continuous

We use was/were + Present Participle form of a Lexical verb to make Past Continuous tense.

  • I was going.
  • He was sleeping.

 Future Continuous

We use shall be/will be + Present Participle form of a Lexical verb to make Future Continuous tense.

  • I shall be going
  • He will be sleeping.

Perfect Tense

We use an auxiliary Have + a past participle form of a Lexical verb to make perfect aspect. Perfect aspect means the action is just complete. There are three perfect tenses: 

  • Present Perfect
  • Past Perfect
  • Future Perfect

Present Perfect

We use have/has + past participle form of a Lexical verb to make present perfect tense.

  • I have gone
  • He has slept.

Past Perfect

We use had past participle form of a Lexical verb to make past perfect tense.

  • I had gone.
  • He had slept.

Future Perfect

We use shall have/will havepast participle form of a Lexical verb to make future perfect tense.

  • I shall have gone
  • He will have slept.

Perfect Continuous

Perfect continuous is a combination of perfect and continuous. The first part of the verb phrase indicates prefect aspect. The second part indicates continuous aspect. Perfect continuous aspect means a portion of the action is complete. There are three perfect continuous tenses. They are:

  • Present perfect continuous
  • Past perfect continuous
  • Future perfect continuous

Present Perfect Continuous

We use have/has + been + Present participle form of a Lexical verb to make present perfect continuous tense. 

  • I have been going
  • He has been sleeping.

 Past Perfec Continuous

We use had + been + Present participle form of a Lexical verb to make past perfect continuous tense.

  • I had been going.
  • He had been sleeping.

 Future Perfect Continuous

We use shall have/will have + been + Present participle form of a Lexical verb to make future perfect continuous tense.

  • I shall have been going
  • He will have been sleeping.

Select the correct answer

Q1. The telephone is ringing! This is an example of-----.
Present Indefinite
Present Continuous
Present Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous
Q2. They've gone to Japan for three weeks. This is an example of-----.
Present Indefinite
Present Continuous
Present Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous
Q3. The boys had been making a noise before the class began. This is an example of-----.
Present Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect
Q4. He came and conquered. This is an example of-----.
Past Indefinite
Past Continuous
Past Perfect
Past Perfect Continuous
Q5. They will have been playing before the sun sets. This is an example of-----.
Present Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous
Future Perfect
Future Perfect Continuous
Q6. He will be catching fish. This is an example of-----.
Future Indefinite
Future Continuous
Future Perfect
Future Perfect Continuous
Q7. He will not learn English. This is an example of-----.
Future Indefinite
Future Continuous
Future Perfect
Future Perfect Continuous
Q8. Are you sure that you ---------- the killer before?
will have seen
would have seen
had seen
must have seen
Q9. Choose the correct form of tense: I will have finished this work by the end of this month.
future perfect
present perfect
simple past
simple present
Q10. She told me his name after he ----------.
left
had left
has left
has been leaving
Q11. They ---------- here since 1999.
have live
have living
have been lived
have been living
Q12. We shall start the programme provided ----------.
circumstances favour us
circumstances favoured us
circumstance favoured us
circumstances are favouring us
Q13. The tense of a verb is mainly related to ----------.
degree
quantity
time
noun
Q14. The train ---------- from Rangpur.
has already arrived
have already arrived
already has been arriving
already arrive
Q15. Some days ---------- since my father died.
passed
are passed
have passed
had passed