Tenses In English Grammar

September 26, 2011

in Writing Style

Past, present and future can be a nightmare for those learning English, and also for native English writers. Below are some basic examples of using tenses to help you master this discipline.

Past Tense:

I was at the game yesterday.

I had a pizza to eat last Saturday.

You were once a great player.

He went to Spain twice last year.

They were on the way to Nepal when the storm came in.

Present Tense:

I am at the game now.

I am having a pizza to eat as we speak.

You are a great player.

He is in Spain at the moment.

They are on the way to Nepal; I hope the storm holds off.

Future Tense:

I will be at the game on Wednesday.

I am looking forward to eating a pizza tonight.

He will be a great player one day.

He will not move to Spain permanently.

Tomorrow they will leave for Nepal despite the weather forecast.

These examples give you some idea of how the tenses work, but remember, things can get slightly more complicated. For example, because it refers to the plural, “has” can be used in both the past and present tense:

He has already gone (past)

He has one on him now (present)

*Note: technically the second example is also the past tense. This is because the person in question probably had the item previously, and didn’t acquire it the said moment.

You will come up against a number of examples like this that appear as anomalies and seem to contradict what you have previously learned.  For example, “He has gone already”, will appear strange to a non-native English speaker because “he has” sounds like ownership in the present tense, yet in this example it is referring to a previous occurrence. Don’t worry though, the more you read examples of this nature, the more sense you will make of it all.

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