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Tenses: Learning the Basics of English Grammar

Tenses

Tenses

There are three basic tenses in the English language.

  1. Present Tense
  2. Past Tense
  3. Future Tense

Every basic tense has four sub-tenses.

  1. Simple or Indefinite Tense
  2. Continuous or Progressive Tense
  3. Perfect Tense
  4. Perfect Continuous Tense

Present Tense

  1. Simple or present Indefinite Tense
  2. Continuous or Present Progressive Tense
  3. Perfect Tense
  4. Perfect Continuous Tense

Past Tense

  1. Simple or Past Indefinite Tense
  2. Continuous or Progressive Tense
  3. Perfect Tense
  4. Perfect Continuous Tense

Future Tense

  1. Simple or Future Indefinite Tense
  2. Continuous or Future Progressive Tense
  3. Perfect Tense
  4. Perfect Continuous Tense

Types of Sentences

Sentences are of four main types.

  1. Affirmative or Positive Sentences
  2. Negative Sentences
  3. Interrogative Sentences
  4. Negative Interrogative Sentences

It means we can make positive, negative or interrogative sentences with the help of verbs, question words and helping verbs.

Question Words

what ~ where ~ when ~ why ~ who ~ whom ~ which ~ how etc.

Be Verbs

is ~ am ~ are ~ was ~ were ~ been ~ being

Present Indefinite Tense

In the positive or affirmative sentence of present indefinite tense, we use only the base form of the verb.

Structure

Use of a subject.

Base form of verb.

Singular subject (Ali, John, Ahmad). Add s/es with third person singular pronoun (he, she, it).

Use of object.

Don’t use helping verb in affirmative or positive sentences. Use base form only (add s/es with third person singular.

Use do not or does not in negative sentences. For third person singular pronoun, use does not or doesn’t. While for other singular pronouns use do not or don’t.

Use question words or do/does for asking a question.

Use do/does at the beginning of the negative interrogative sentence and not after subject in case of without contractions. While with contractions use don’t or doesn’t before the subject.

Examples

Affirmative Sentences

I go to market.

You cook food.

Honey goes to gym.

They come here in June.

Muhammad Ali goes to school.

She writes an email.

It tells us something.

Ahmad comes here at 2 PM.

Negative Sentences

They do not go to market.

You do not speak Spanish.

I do not know anything about you.

We do not go to gym.

He does not cook food.

She does not wash the clothes.

It does not help us.

Interrogative Sentences

Do you want to learn English?

When do you go there?

Where do you want to go?

Where do you live?

Why do you want to go to London?

Does Muhammad Daud go to school?

Does he write an email?

Where does she live?

Why does he go to Murree in June?

Negative Interrogative Sentences

Without contractions

Do they not go to school?

Does she not write an email?

Why does he not go to school?

With Contractions

Don’t they go to school?

Doesn’t she write an email?

Why doesn’t he go to school?

Present Continuous Tense

Present continuous tense is about the progressing work as something is going on or still working. It is known as present progressive tense as well.

Structure

Use present participle with be verb (is, am, are) in present continuous tense.

Use of subject.

The use of present participle.

Object is used.

Use not after the be verb in negative sentence.

Put is, am, are or question words at the beginning of sentence while asking a question.

Making negative interrogative sentences with or without contractions.

Examples

Affirmative Sentences

I am going to school.

She is writing a letter.

He is driving a car.

They are going to Murree.

Negative Sentences

I am not going to school.

They are not eating the apples.

We are not making fun of anyone.

He is not driving a car.

She is not washing the clothes.

Interrogative Sentences

Are they going to school?

Is he writing an email?

Are they going to Islamabad?

Where are you going?

What is he doing?

Who is coming here?

Negative Interrogative Sentences

Without Contractions

Are they not going to school?

Is he not laughing?

Is he not going to market?

Are they not coming to the university?

Is she not writing an email?

With Contractions

Aren’t they going to school?

Isn’t he not laughing?

Aren’t we eating cake?

Isn’t he going to gym?

Present Perfect Tense

Use of have/has with past participle in making sentences of present perfect tense.

Structure

Use of subject.

The use of have or has.

Use of past participle.

Object is used.

Use of not after the be verbin negative sentences.

Put have/has or question words at the beginning, in interrogative sentence.

Make sentences with or without contractions in negative interrogative sentences.

Examples

Affirmative Sentences

I have gone to school.

She has written an email.

He has done his work.

They have played hockey.

Negative Sentences

I have not gone to school.

They have not eaten the apples.

We have not made fun of anyone.

He has not done his work.

She has not washed the clothes.

Interrogative Sentences

Have they gone to market?

Has he written an email?

Have they gone to Islamabad?

Where have you gone?

What has he done?

Who has come home?

Negative Interrogative Sentences

Without Contractions

Have they not gone to market?

Has he not learnt tenses?

Has he not gone to gym?

Have they not come to the university?

With Contractions

Hasn’t he made a CV?

Haven’t kids gone to school?

Haven’t we eaten the apples?

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Use present participle with the have been/has been in present perfect continuous tense.

Structure

The use of subject.

Use of have been or has been.

Put present participle.

Object is used.

Use of Since/For according to requirement.

Put not after the have/has in negative sentences.

Use question words or have/has in interrogative sentences.

Make sentences of negative interrogative with or without contractions.

Examples

Affirmative Sentences

I have been going to school since 2003.

She has been writing an email for 2 hours.

He has been learning tenses for 6 weeks.

They have been playing hockey since 7th class.

Negative Sentences

I have not been going to school since 2003.

She has not been writing an email for 2 hours.

He has not been working for 6 weeks.

They have not been playing hockey since 7th class.

Interrogative Sentences

Have they been going to school since June?

Has he been writing an email for 2 hours?

Have you been going to Dubai since 2022?

Why have you been going to gym since June?

What has he been doing for 2 hours?

Who has been coming home for a couple of weeks?

Negative Interrogative Sentences

Without Contractions

Have they not been going to school since June?

Has he not been learning tenses for 2 hours?

Has he not been going to market since August?

Has she not been writing a message for 2 hours?

Have they not been coming to the university for 2 days?

With Contractions

Haven’t they been going to gym since June?

Hasn’t he been writing a story for 2 hours?

Haven’t you been eating apples since morning?

Hasn’t he been going home since yesterday?

Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan

Tenses

Learning English

Summary of the Tenses

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User Rating: 1.45 ( 5 votes)

About Fehmeeda Farid Khan

A freelancer, blogger, content writer, translator, tour consultant, proofreader, environmentalist, social mobilizer, poetess and novelist. As a physically challenged person, she extends advocacy on disability related issues. She's masters in Economics and Linguistics along with B.Ed.

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