Table of some tenses

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The following is an attempt to show the most basic possibilities of indicating time and mood in the English use of verbs. It may be worth reminding the reader that English verbs only inflect for two 'full' tenses, the present simple and the past simple: other feelings of tense are conveyed by different combinations of auxiliary and modal verbs. The flexibility of English is such that this table cannot hope to be comprehensive. What is shown here is a sample of the variety of the English verb phrase, as used in academic writing in the UK.

The table only shows three 'time' concepts, and the three basic aspects of English. All the phrases shown are in the active voice.


perfect: to have

+ the -ed participle

continuous: to be

+ the -ing participle

simple

(inflected)

present tense present perfect (traditionally called perfect):

"I have eaten"

present continuous:

"I am eating"

present simple:

"I eat"

past tense past perfect:(traditionally pluperfect)

"I had eaten"

past continuous"

"I was eating"

past simple:

"I ate"

future tense with auxiliary future perfect:

"I shall have eaten"

future continuous:

"I shall be eating"

future simple:

"I shall eat"