english lessons

Verb Tenses

Verb tenses are verb forms (went, go, will go) which English speakers use to talk about the past, present, and future in their language. There are twelve verb tense forms in English as well as other time expressions such as used to. For English learners, knowing how to use English tenses can be quite a challenge. Never fear. 's verb tense tutorial will teach you to think like a native speaker. Let's get started!

How to use this tutorial:

1. Read Types of Verbs, Active vs. Passive, and the verb tense descriptions you want to learn.

2. Do the verb tense exercises below. Each exercise has links to the tenses covered. And don't miss our Verb Tense Final Test.

3. Use our Verb Tense Chart to learn about the types of tenses, and read through Common Questions about Verb Tenses.

Verb Tense Exercises

EXERCISETOPICS COVERED
Verb Tense Exercise 1 Simple Present and Present Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 2 Simple Present and Present Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 3 Simple Past and Past Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 4 Simple Past and Past Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 5 Simple Past and Present Perfect.
Verb Tense Exercise 6 Simple Past and Present Perfect.
Verb Tense Exercise 7 Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 8 Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 9 Present Continuous and Present Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 10 Present Continuous and Present Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 11 Simple Past and Past Perfect.
Verb Tense Exercise 12 Simple Past, Present Perfect, and Past Perfect.
Verb Tense Exercise 13 Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 14 Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 15 Present Continuous, Simple Past, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 16 Present and past tenses with non-continuous verbs.
Verb Tense Exercise 17 Present and past tense review.
Verb Tense Exercise 18 Will and Be Going to.
Verb Tense Exercise 19 Will and Be Going to.
Verb Tense Exercise 20 Will and Be Going to.
Verb Tense Exercise 21 Simple Present and Simple Future.
Verb Tense Exercise 22 Simple Present and Simple Future.
Verb Tense Exercise 23 Simple Future and Future Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 24 Simple Present, Simple Future, Present Continuous, and Future Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 25 Simple Future and Future Perfect.
Verb Tense Exercise 26 Future Perfect and Future Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 27 Future Perfect and Future Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Exercise 28 Future Continuous and Future Perfect Continuous.
Verb Tense Practice Test Review of all verb tenses.
Verb Tense Final Test Review of all verb tenses.

Verb Tense Chart

Simple Present Simple Past Simple Future
I study English every day. Two years ago, I studied English in England. If you are having problems, I will help you study English.

I am going to study English next year.
Present Continuous Past Continuous Future Continuous
I am studying English now. I was studying English when you called yesterday. I will be studying English when you arrive tonight.

I am going to be studying English when you arrive tonight.
Present Perfect Past Perfect Future Perfect
I have studied English in several different countries. I had studied a little English before I moved to the U.S. I will have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.

I am going to have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.
Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Continuous Future Perfect Continuous
I have been studying English for five years. I had been studying English for five years before I moved to the U.S. I will have been studying English for over two hours by the time you arrive.

I am going to have been studying English for over two hours by the time you arrive.

About the Verb Tense Chart

Look at the verb tense chart above. Do you see how it is arranged? It tells you a lot about how English speakers understand time. There are four present tenses, four past tenses, and four future tenses.

There are also three simple tenses, three continuous tenses, three perfect tenses and three perfect continuous tenses. These groupings can help you learn how English verb tenses are used.

For example, all simple tenses have similar uses. Perfect tenses also behave in the same way. Keep this in mind while reading our verb tense descriptions.

Did you also notice that present tenses and past tenses only have one form whereas future tenses have two forms?

Common Questions about Verb Tenses

How can I learn verb tenses?

Our native language changes the way we think about time. It also changes the way we use verb tenses. For example, Germans often make mistakes with present perfect. Why? Because it looks like a tense in German, which is NOT the same.

For this reason, you have to learn to think like an English speaker. You must learn how we see time. Our in-depth verb tense descriptions will help you.

Make sure you understand the details. Do you know how non-continuous and mixed verbs change tense usage? If not, read those pages again.

It is also good to know active and passive verb forms well. You don't want to have to stop in the middle of a sentence to think about forms.

You should also take some time to learn the large number of English irregular verbs. Don't worry. It's easy with our irregular verb flashcards!

How many verb tenses are there?

The answer depends on who you ask.

Linguists say English has three tenses: past, present and future. They call simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous "aspects" of each tense.

People who teach English as a foreign language say English has 12 tenses (simple present, present continuous, etc.)

In addition to the 12 tenses, there are extra forms (used to, would always, and future in the past) which are used to express time in English. Here at , we describe 15 verb forms.

What are the most common verb tense mistakes?

The most common mistake English learners make is to use simple present to talk about things that are happening now. With most verbs, that's wrong. Present continuous should be used. 

Another big mistake is using present perfect with set times such as last week. That is not correct in English. And most English learners have problems with will and be going to.

Again, don't worry. All of these tenses are clearly explained in this tutorial.

What sources should I use to study tenses?

First, start with this Verb Tense Tutorial. You need to know the rules well.

Next, watch TV and movies in English. You should watch shows with lots of dialogue. Comedies and dramas are best. You need to find programs with natural language. Many teachers use shows like Friends or The Big Bang Theory in class.

You also need to read. Again, it is best to read books with lots of conversation.Take time to look at the details. Do you understand why each tense is used?

Where can I see examples of all the verb tense forms?

Each page in this tutorial has a Forms section with a link to a Complete List of Forms. That list shows examples of all forms for that tense. Here is the complete list of simple present forms.

Learn English at !