5 Essential Verb Tenses--Statements

In English there are 12 verb tenses. You need to know how to construct and when to use 5 of those verb tenses. You need to know how to write affirmative statements, negative statements, yes/no questions and information questions.


Simple Past (= Past Simple)

The simple past is used to give information about the past. You may include a time phrase to indicate when in the past. “Ago” may be used with simple past sentences.

I ate a big salad yesterday.

I learned to read music a long time ago.

Simple Present (= Present Simple)

The simple present is used to give information about habitual behaviour, about permanent features or temporary characteristics.

I often eat homemade chicken soup.

I live in Mexico.

Simple Future (= Future Simple)

The simple future is used to give information about the future.

Oh, I’ll help you carry your bags to the car.

I don’t know what I’ll do after class. Maybe I will eat something after class.

spontaneous; it is not planned

I am going to eat soup and salad for lunch today. I made the soup last night and I have all the ingredients at home for a fabulous salad!

there is a plan, there is evidence that it will happen

These 2 sentences are written in the “simple future”. They are identical in meaning.

I will go out after class.

I am going to go out after class.

If you want those two sentences to have different usages, then you follow these rules:

I will go out after class.

Use this form for (1)unplanned actions, (2) spontaneous decisions, (3) actions with no evidence of planning or preparation

I am going to go out after class. I am already dressed. I need to get direct exposure to sunlight for my health. I normally walk outside everyday

Use this form for (1) planned actions, (2) decisions that were made in advance, and (3) actions with evidence of planning or preparation.

Present Continuous (= Present Progressive)

The present continuous is used to give information about action in progress now.

I am eating an apple.

Present perfect

The present perfect tense is used to describe something that happened in the past, but when in the past it happened is not stated. “Since + a point of time in the past” or “for + a period of time in the past” may be used with the present perfect.

I have eaten lobster before. How about you? Have you ever eaten lobster?

I have known how to read since I was in kindergarden.

I have lived in Mexico for more than a decade.

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