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Uses of Tense in English Grammar with Examples

Tense – A form of a verb that shows if something happens in the past, present, or future. In English grammar, tense is a category that highlights the context of time.

Types of Tense in Grammar

There are three types of tense in English Grammar:

  1. Present tense
  2. Past tense
  3. Future tense

These three tenses are divided into four parts.

TensesPresentPastFuture
Indefinite He plays.He played.He will play.
Continues He is playing.He was playing.He will be playing.
Perfect He has played.He had played.He will have played.
Per. ContinuousHe has been playing+timeHe had been playing+timeHe will have been playing+time.

Use of Present tense

Read the following sentences in the text:

  • Why is she coming so late?
  • Where is your little friend?
  • where are you coming from?

We can answer these questions only in the present tense.

Present Indefinite tense

Present simple/indefinite tense is used in the following situations.

1. To express habitual actions-

Ex- He goes out for a walk daily.

2. to express general truths-

Ex- water boils at 100’C

3. To express a situation or a fact that is permanent-

Ex- Agra stands on the bank of the Yamuna.

4. To express a planned future action-

Ex- I leave for Delhi tomorrow.

5. To being imperative sentences-

Ex- Obey your teacher.

Present Continues Tense

Present Continues tense is used in the following situations.

To describe an action at the present moment and its continuity.

Ex- The ladies are singing a chorus.

To express an action, definitely planned for the future.

Ex- We are going to play a match tomorrow.

Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect tense is used in the following situations.

To express an action that has been recently completed.

Ex- They have won the match.

To describe a past experience.

Ex- I have read this noble several times.

To express an action that began in the past.

Ex- He has worked in this office for ten years.

Present Perfect continuous Tense

This tense is used in the following situations.

For an action over a period of time leading up to the present:

Ex- We have been waiting here for twenty minutes.

To about repeated actions up to now.

Ex- Asha has been playing the piano since 4 o’clock.

To talk about an action that ends just before the present.

Ex- I have been running that’s why I am out of breath.

Past Tense of use in English Grammar

Read the following sentences :

1. Suresh bought a cycle for his brother.

2. He was a poor man.

3. They were only concerned with eating it.

The verbs in those sentences are in the past tense. Different uses of past tense are given below:

Past Indefinite Tense

This tense is used in the following situations.

1. To express an action completed in the past.

Ex- They finished the work late on the day.

2. To express habitual or regular action in the past.

Ex- I went out for a walk daily in the morning.

3. To express an action that occupied a period of time in the past that has now ended.

Ex- We lived in this house for 7 years (do not live ow)

Past Continuous Tense

Past Continuous tense is used in the following situations.

1. To express repeated actions in the past, and an action that was in progress / continuing at a time in the past to which the sentence, refers-

Ex- She was crying at the top of her voice.

2. To express an action that was in progress when another action happened.

Ex- I was sleeping when the postman came.

Past Perfect Tense

This tense is used to express an action completed before another action took place.

Ex-

1. The movie had begun before I reached the cinema Hall.

2. The train had left before I reached the station.

Past perfect continuous tense

We use past perfect continuous tense for an action that happened over a period of time.

Ex-

1. I had been swimming in the pool for an hour.

2. He has been playing since morning.

Future Tense of use in English Grammar

Read the underlined word which shows the future time.

  1. You will live happily together.
  2. I shall give you something to help you.
  3. This doll will take my place when I am gone.

Future indefinite tense expresses actions that are to happen in the future.

There are many different ways of talking about the future, depending on how we see a future event. It may be something that is fairly sure to happen, or it may be just a plan or an intention, or it may be something that you think will happen but you can’t be sure about.

Future Indefinite/Simple Tense

We can express futurity

A. By using shall/will

Shall is used for first person ( I & We ) and Will is used for the second and third persons.

Examples:

  • I shall write a letter.
  • You will go there.
  • He will see it.

Note: Sometimes the above-mentioned rule is reversed according to the situation concerned.

Examples:

  • I will finish college in June. (determination)
  • I will pay you next week. (promise)
  • We will do it now. (offer)
  • He shall see it. (order)
  • You shall not enter my house.

B. By using Present Indefinite

Ex- We leave for Delhi tomorrow.

C. By using Present continuous tense

Ex-

1. Are you coming on Sunday?

2. They are playing a match the next day.

D. By using ‘going to.

Ex- We are going to sing chorus.

Future Continuos Tense

This tense is used to express an action, which is going to happen in the future in a normal course.

Examples

1. I shall be singing a song on Monday.

2. The new edition of this book will be coming out shortly.

Future Perfect Tense

Future perfect tense is used to express an action or work that probably will be completed after some time in the future.

Examples:

1. They will have covered half of the course by this month.

2. We shall have revised our plan by 9 p.m.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

Indicates an activity represented as being continuous over a period of time that will end in the future.

Examples:

If you don’t reach there by 10 o’clock,

they will have been waiting for you for a long time.

Exercise

Complete the following sentences using the future perfect continuous form of the verb given in brackets.

1. He _____ you _____two house. (wait)

2. They ______television ________an hour. (watch)

3. He _______all morning. (swim)

4. She ______it ______ for five days. (play)

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