The idea of verb tense usually concerns three divisions: past, present, and future.
English is unique because it also has another three divisions for each of the basic tenses: perfect, simple, and progressive.
(progressive = continuous)
In all three basic tenses (past, present, and future), the simple tense uses the verb all by itself. There are no helping verbs, such as “is, are, am, was, were, have, has” or modal verbs, such as “can, could, must, etc.” - Simply the verb.
The progressive tense always has a helping word, which is some form of the verb “to be” (am, is, are, was, were, will be) PLUS a verb with the ending -ing. E.g. We are going.
Perfect I had worked before then HAD +PARTICIPLE
Past Simple I worked yesterday verb
Continuous I was working back then WAS +GERUND
Perfect I have worked before now HAVE +PARTICIPLE (-ed word)
Present Simple I work now verb
Continuous I am working now BE +GERUND (-ing word)
Perfect I will have worked by then WILL HAVE+PARTICIPLE
Future Simple I will work later WILL + verb
Continuous I will be working soon WILL BE + GERUND
“Present perfect” is a past tense even though it has the word “present” in its name. This is because the helping word “have” is in the present tense. In the “past perfect,” the helping word “have” becomes “had.”
Tom lost his key. (simple past) Since the verb is simple past, then the condition is over, which means that Tom found his key.
Tom has lost his key. (present perfect) - Since the word has tell us that the condition is still true in the present, then it means that Tom’s key is still lost. He hasn’t found it yet.
to be irregular am, is, are, was, were
past perfect: (use if there are 2 past events)
Past Perfect I had worked before then HAD +PARTICIPLE
I had run a mile, eaten a meal, and slept for an hour.
Present Perfect I have worked before now HAVE +PARTICIPLE
Future Perfect I will have worked by then WILL HAVE+PARTICIPLE
There are TWO past tense forms in English: Simple and Perfect
For regular verbs, the two forms are identical, but for irregular verbs, there are two different forms, a simple and a perfect.
simple past: ran Perfect: (have) run
ate have/has eaten
was have/has been
eaten, been, run are all participles
have/has is/are/was/were are all helping verbs (auxilaries)
She has been telling the truth, but no one believes her.
present perfect present
She had been telling the truth, but no one her.
past perfect simple past
She was reading a book, when the phone rang.
past continuous simple past
Only use the past perfect if there are two past events.
I worked yesterday, but I had never worked before then.
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simple past past perfect
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past tense verb auxilliary participle
(helping verb) (past participle)
Right now, I am working.
English has three verb forms for each of the three tenses (past, present, and future).
The three forms are 1) simple 2) perfect, and 3) continuous
1) simple uses simple a single word verb form I work. I worked, I will work.
2) perfect uses a helping verb (have, has) I have worked, I had worked, I will have worked.
3) continuous uses a helping verb (to be = am, are, is) I am working, I was working, I will be working.
Tom lost his key. He finally found it under the couch. (past situation, the key has been found now.)
Tom has lost his key. He can’t get into the house. (present situation, the key is still lost)
I saw him smash the window. simple (a completed action)
I saw him climbing through the window. progressive (a continuous action)
I saw him smashing the window. a continuous action (How long did it take?)
I saw him climb through the window.
I saw as he smashed the window.
I saw how he climbed through the window.