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Understanding verb tense

What are the verb tenses?

Present and present perfect


Past and past perfect
Future and future perfect
Consistency of tense

What are the verb tenses?

Verbs do a lot of work in sentences. They show


actions and states of being. They even take
different forms to show time.
flies
flew

will fly

What are the verb tenses?

The tense of a verb indicates the time of the


action or state of being expressed by the verb.

Perfect tenses indicate that something happened


or existed before a specific point in time.
Past

Past
Past Perfect

Present

Present
Present Perfect

Future

Future
Future Perfect

She
She
Gwen
will
She
has
Gwen
Gwen
have
had
will
played
plays
played
played
played
playinguitar
inthe
last
violin
a
inconcert
band
ten
year
in before
aconcerts
jazz
for
astomorrow.
well.
three
then.
band.
byyears.
April.

What are the verb tenses?


The tenses of verbs are formed from the four
principal parts of verbs.
Base Form
Present Participle
Past
Past Participle

smile

choose

[is] smil ing

[is] choos ing

smile d

cho se

[have] smile d

[have] cho sen

What are the verb tenses?


Each tense has a progressive form, which is
used to express continuing action or state of
being.
Present progressive

am, are, is talking

Past progressive

was, were talking

Future progressive

will (shall) be talking

Present perfect
progressive

has, have been talking

Past perfect progressive

had been talking

Future perfect progressive

will (shall) have been talking

What are the verb tenses?


Present and present perfect

The present tense expresses an action or a


state of being that is occurring now, at the
present time.
Today we honor our veterans.

Polly is marching in the parade.


(Progressive form)

What are the verb tenses?


Present and present perfect

The present tense is also used in these ways:


to show a customary or
habitual action or state of
being

We recycle our aluminum


cans.

to express a general truth

The sun rises in the east.

to make historical events


seem current (historical
present)

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh


flies nonstop across the
Atlantic.

to discuss a literary work


(literary present)

In Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck


shows us the extremes of life
during the depression.

to express future time

We travel to Utah next month.

What are the verb tenses?


Present and present perfect

The present perfect tense

expresses an action or a state of being that


occurred at an indefinite time in the past
is usually formed using the helping verb have or
has plus the past participle
Mike has been in several parades.
He has played the drum in all of them.

What are the verb tenses?


Present and present perfect

The present perfect tense is also used to


express an action or state of being that began in
the past and continues into the present. In this
case, perfect means complete.
Mr. Lee has taught music at our
school since 2004.
(Progressive form)

Yoko has been taking flute lessons for


six years.

What are the verb tenses?


Past and past perfect

The past tense expresses an action or a state of


being that occurred in the past but did not
continue into the present.
The two friends shared the large swing.

They were swinging for a long time.


(Progressive form)

What are the verb tenses?


Past and past perfect

The past perfect tense

expresses an action or a state of being that


ended before another past action or state of
being occurred
is usually formed using had plus the past
participle
After Maria had gone home, Kim was bored.
She asked her dad about the time that he
had been a lifeguard at the beach.

What are the verb tenses?


Future and future perfect

The future tense

expresses an action or a state of being that will


occur
is usually formed using will or shall plus the base
form
My family will ride the train to Chicago.
We will be arriving at five oclock.
(Progressive form)

What are the verb tenses?


Future and future perfect

The future perfect tense

expresses an action or a state of being that will


end before another future action or state of
being
is usually formed using will have or shall have
plus the past participle
By the time you receive this letter, she will have
returned home.
After this trip, he will have been to Chicago
three times.

What are the verb tenses?


On Your Own
Change the tense of the verb in each sentence, as indicated
in parentheses.
1. I do not miss the bus. (Change to future.)
2. Were they at the party? (Change to past perfect.)
3. By then, Keith had returned. (Change to future perfect.)
4. The team will practice for an hour with no break. (Change
to future perfect progressive.)
5. My sister dances well. (Change to past.)
[End of Section]

Consistency of tense

Do not change needlessly from one tense to


another.

To describe events that occur at the same time,


use verbs in the same tense.
past tense

past tense

Sara peeked over the fence and saw a cornfield.


present tense

present tense

Sara peeks over the fence and sees a cornfield.

Consistency of tense

For events that occur at different times, use verbs


of different tenses to show the sequence of
events.
past tense

past perfect tense

The pitcher wished that he had practiced more


before the game.
The action of wishing happened after the action of
practicing was complete.

Consistency of tense

For events that occur at different times, use verbs


of different tenses to show the sequence of
events.
past tense

present tense

Yesterday, Nina told us that her brother works


every week at the senior center.
The action of telling occurred at a specific time in the
past. The action of working occurs now.

Consistency of tense
On Your Own
Proofread the paragraph for unnecessary changes of verb
tense. Change the verbs to make the tenses consistent.
(1) I was in my room Saturday morning, planning to
study for two hours. (2) To my surprise, Nancy Chang drops
by. (3) She dashed into the house, runs up the stairs, and
calls my name. (4) What she wanted was a fishing
companion. (5) As I get my fishing gear together, I was so
happy. (6) On our way to the lake, we notice some dark
clouds. (7) We wished we checked the weather first.

[End of Section]

Review A
Change the tense of each boldface verb to the tense
indicated in parentheses.
1. The otter swam to the edge of the pond. (present
perfect)
2. Our class will read Shakespeares Macbeth. (future
progressive)
3. The three sisters regularly meet for lunch. (past)
4. Each student chooses a lab partner. (past perfect)
5. Wasps were entering the house through the torn screen.
(present)

The End