Present:

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing routines, regular events or facts, feelings or states
 
Structure
 
  • I/you/we/they + Infinitive
  • he/she/it + Infinitive + s
 
Signal words
 
always, never, often, seldom, rarely, sometimes, usually, normally, regularly, etc. every day, every week, every month, …
 
Positive statement
 
I walk, she walks, they take, he takes
 
Negative statement
 
I don’t walk, she doesn’t walk, they don’t take, he doesn’t take
 
Question
 
Do I walk? Does she walk? Do they take? Does he take?
 
 

Present: Present Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing things that happen at the moment of speech or things that happen exceptionally; talking about a plan that happens in the near future
 
Structure
 
am/are/is (simple present form of to be) + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
at the moment, right now, just, now, at present, currently, Look!
 
Positive statement
 
I am walking, she is walking, they are taking, he is taking
 
Negative statement
 
I am not walking, she isn't walking, they aren't taking, he isn't taking
 
Question
 
Am I walking? Is she walking? Are they taking? Is he taking?
 
 

Past: Simple Past

 
   
 
Use
 
Talking about things that happened in the past and are completed or over at the moment of speech
 
Structure
 
  • Regular verbs: Infinitive + ed
  • Irregular verbs: simple past form
 
Signal words
 
yesterday, the other day, in 2009, when, at that time two days ago, a week ago, a month ago, … last night, last week, last month, …
 
Positive statement
 
I walked, she walked, they took, he took
 
Negative statement
 
I didn't walk, she didn't walk, they didn't take, he didn't take
 
Question
 
Did I walk? Did she walk? Did they take? Did he take?
 
 

Past: Past Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing actions or things that were in progress in the past, even if something else suddenly interrupted this progress
 
Structure
 
was/were (simple past form of to be) + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
while
 
Positive statement
 
I was walking, she was walking, they were taking, he was taking
 
Negative statement
 
I wasn't walking, she wasn't walking, they weren't taking, he wasn't taking
 
Question
 
Was I walking? Was she walking? Were they taking? Was he taking?
 
 

Past: Present Perfect Simple

 
   
 
Use
 
Emphasising the result of something, talking about things that happened at an unknown time in the past, describing things that happened in the past and are not yet completed or over at the moment of speech
 
Structure
 
have/has (simple present form of to have) + past participle
 
Signal words
 
since, for, already, yet, before, ever, never, still not, so far, just, up to now, recently, until now
 
Positive statement
 
I have walked, she has walked, they have taken, he has taken
 
Negative statement
 
I haven't walked, she hasn't walked, they haven't taken, he hasn't taken
 
Question
 
Have I walked? Has she walked? Have they taken? Has he taken?
 
 

Past: Present Perfect Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
Emphasising the duration of something, describing things that started happening in the past and are still going on at the moment of speech and/or influence the present
 
Structure
 
have/has (simple present form of to have) + been + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
for, since, how long, all day, all day long, the whole day/week/month/year
 
Positive statement
 
I have been walking, she has been walking, they have been taking, he has been taking
 
Negative statement
 
I haven't been walking, she hasn't been walking, they haven't been taking, he hasn't been taking
 
Question
 
Have I been walking? Has she been walking? Have they been taking? Has he been taking?
 
 

Past: Past Perfect Simple

 
   
 
Use
 
Emphasising that something in the past stopped or was over when something else began, describing the fact that something happened before a certain time
 
Structure
 
had (simple past form of to have) + past participle
 
Signal words
 
already, until that day, never, just
 
Positive statement
 
I had walked, she had walked, they had taken, he had taken
 
Negative statement
 
I hadn't walked, she hadn't walked, they hadn't taken, he hadn't taken
 
Question
 
Had I walked? Had she walked? Had they taken? Had he taken?
 
 

Past: Past Perfect Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
Emphasising the progress or duration of something, describing things that happened in the past and stopped or were over at a certain time later in the past
 
Structure
 
had (simple past form of to have) + been + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
for, since, how long, all day, after, before
 
Positive statement
 
I had been walking, she had been walking, they had been taking, he had been taking
 
Negative statement
 
I hadn't been walking, she hadn't been walking, they hadn't been taking, he hadn't been taking
 
Question
 
Had I been walking? Had she been walking? Had they been taking? Had he been taking?
 
 

Future: Will-Future

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing things that will certainly happen in the future, talking about expectations, hopes or assumptions, spontaneous decisions
 
Structure
 
will + Infinitive
 
Signal words
 
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2021, expect, believe, hope, suppose, think, probably
 
Positive statement
 
I will walk, she will walk, they will take, he will take
 
Negative statement
 
I won't walk, she won't walk, they won't take, he won't take
 
Question
 
Will I walk? Will she walk? Will they take? Will he take?
 
 

Future: Going-to-Future

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing plans and aims in the future, implications, talking about things that will happen in the near future
 
Structure
 
am/are/is (simple present form of to be) + going to + Infinitive
 
Signal words
 
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2011
 
Positive statement
 
I am going to walk, she is going to walk, they are going to take, he is going to take
 
Negative statement
 
I am not going to walk, she isn't going to walk, they aren't going to take, he isn't going to take
 
Question
 
Am I going to walk? Is she going to walk? Are they going to take? Is he going to take?
 
 

Future: Future Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing things that will be in progress in the future, talking about things that usually happen in the future
 
Structure
 
will + be + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2041
 
Positive statement
 
I will be walking, she will be walking, they will be taking, he will be taking
 
Negative statement
 
I won't be walking, she won't be walking, they won't be taking, he won't be taking
 
Question
 
Will I be walking? Will she be walking? Will they be taking? Will he be taking?
 
 

Future: Future Perfect

 
   
 
Use
 
Talking about things that will be completed or over at a certain time in the future
 
Structure
 
will + have + past participle
 
Signal words
 
until, before by the end of the day, by the end of the week, by the end of the month, …
 
Positive statement
 
I will have walked, she will have walked, they will have taken, he will have taken
 
Negative statement
 
I won't have walked, she won't have walked, they won't have taken, he won't have taken
 
Question
 
Will I have walked? Will she have walked? Will they have taken? Will he have taken?
 
 
 
 
You almost never use the past perfect simple on it's own. Most of the times you'll need it, it will be in connection with another sentence in a different tense. That is because with the past perfect, you talk about something that has taken place before something else.
Looking at the following examples carefully, you should gain an understanding for when to use the past perfect.
  • She gave a lecture on Africa after she had returned from a two year visit in Tanzania.
  • Lucas went after he had finished all his work.
  • It came to him as a surprise – until that day he had never thought about it that way.
  • We had just arrived when they already took us on a boat trip.
 
In the first exercise, fill in the gaps with the correct past perfect forms. If you read through the rules above carefully, this should not be a problem!
 
 
  1.  Tina felt sick after she 
     two litres of cherry coke. (to drink)

     
  2.  The girl ran away after she 
     the window. (to break)

     
  3.  The boy fell asleep after his father 
     him a story. (to read)

     
  4.  The children 
     all the chocolate. (to eat)

     
  5.  The dog ran away after it's owner 
     at him. (to shout)

     
  6.  Zelda 
     to do her homework. (to forget)

     
  7.  Jacob 
     Mary "stupid" and now Mary was very angry. (to call)

     
 
 
 
In the second exercise, take a look at the example sentences and decide whether they use simple past, present perfect or past perfect. You should not do this exercise if you have not yet studied the simple past and the present perfect.
 
 
  • Lisa has read a book.
     
  • Damien has eaten an apple.
     
  • Lisa had read a book.
     
  • Lisa read a book.
     
  • Damien had eaten an apple.
     
  • Damien ate an apple.
     
Present Perfect
 
Simple Past
 
Past Perfect
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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