Hello, and welcome.
In this lesson, I’m going to teach you all of the tenses in the English language.
For each tense, I’ll show you the form, its different uses, and I’ll share with
you example sentences to help you fully understand it.
So, if you’re ready, let’s begin.
Before we get into the lesson, here’s a chart showing all the tenses.
There are three times – present, past, and future.
And four aspects – simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous.
The times and the aspects combine to make all of the twelve tenses in English.
The present time and the simple aspect make the present simple tense.
Then, we have the present continuous, present perfect, and the present perfect continuous
In the same way, we can make tenses with the past and future times as well.
We’re going to discuss all of these in this lesson.
So, let’s begin with the first tense – the present simple.
We make the present simple tense with a subject (like I/You/We/They/He/She/It) and a verb
in the present (or the V1) form.
For example: “I drink coffee every morning.”
“Cathy works as a teacher.”
Notice that in sentence number two, we have “works” with an “s”.
In the present tense, if the subject is I, You, We or They, we use a verb without -s.
That’s why “I drink”.
If the subject is He, She, or It, we add -s to the verb.
“Cathy” is a female name, it’s like saying “she”, so we’ve said, “Cathy
Now, the first sentence here talks about a habit or a routine, something that I do regularly.
The second sentence is a fact – “Cathy works as a teacher” is a fact about her
These are the two main uses of the present simple tense.
Here are a few more examples of habits and routines: “Shawn goes to the beach on Sundays.”
“Children often play video games after school.”
And here are some more facts: “You sing very well.”
(it’s said as a fact about someone’s ability) “Water boils at 100° C.” Notice that
this last sentence is a fact about the world, so facts can be about people, or they can
be about things in the world.
So, that is the present simple tense.
The next tense is the present continuous.
We make the present continuous tense with a subject + am/is/are + a verb in the continuous
or -ing form.
We say, “I am”, “He/She/It + is”, and “You/We/They + are”.
For example: “I’m drinking coffee right now.”
This sentence shows the first use of the present continuous: to talk about actions happening
now, at the time of speaking.
This is not a general statement; it’s not about my coffee-drinking habit.
It’s about what’s happening at this moment: I’m drinking coffee now.
Here are two more examples: “We are having breakfast.”
“It is raining outside.”
These sentences also express what is happening now.
This is the first use of the present continuous; the second use is to talk about temporary
Like: “Arun is learning to play the guitar.”
It means Arun is taking guitar lessons, maybe twice a week.
So, he is in the process of learning to play the instrument.
A couple more examples: “I am watching a really interesting TV series at the moment.”
“My sister is staying with us for a couple of weeks.”
The third use of the present continuous is to describe changes that are taking place
or happening now.
“English lessons on YouTube are becoming very popular.”
It means that the popularity of English lessons on YouTube is increasing.
Here are some more examples: “The price of crude oil is falling rapidly.”
“Scientists say that the Earth is getting warmer.”
So, remember that the present continuous tense is used to talk about actions happening now,
temporary activities, and changes that are taking place.
Alright, so we’ve discussed the present simple and present continuous tenses.
Let’s now talk about the past simple and past continuous.
Past simple first.
We make the past simple tense with a subject and a verb in the past (or the V2) form.
This tense is used to talk about completed actions in the past.
For example: “I played soccer with my friends last Saturday.”
“Karen gave us a present for our wedding anniversary.”
The verb in the first sentence is “play”.
We make the past form by adding -ed to it.
We do this for most verbs.
But some verbs have special past forms; you see that in sentence number two: “gave”
–this is the past tense of the verb “give”.
We say “give”, “gave”, “given”.
“Given” is the past participle or V3 form.
These types of verbs are called irregular verbs; there are no rules for making past
forms with them, so you have to memorize the correct forms.
You see some examples on the screen, but of course, there are many more in English.
Alright, here are some more past simple tense sentences: “We received the package this
“My grandfather built this house in 1968.”
“Antonio lived in Malaysia for five years.”
OK, let’s now move on and talk about the past continuous tense.
Here’s a sentence first: “I was having dinner with my family when the doorbell rang.”
We’re going to put this sentence on a timeline.
That side is the past, in the middle is now, and over on that side is the future.
Our sentence says, “I was having dinner with my family” – this shows an unfinished,
ongoing action in the past.
So, I was in the middle of having dinner, and something happened: the doorbell rang.
So, I had to put down my spoon and fork, get up from my table, and go and see who it was.
So, the past continuous tense talks about an unfinished, ongoing action in the past.
And, normally, we also mention another finished action that interrupted it.
We say “was” for the subjects I/He/She/It, and “were” for You/We/They.
If we mention a finished action that interrupted the continuous action, it is in the past simple
form – subject + past tense verb (like “the doorbell rang”).
Here are a few more sentences: “It was raining when Priya left for work.”
(So, she had to take an umbrella with her) “The power went out while the children were
(Here, we mention the continuous action second – the children were studying, and the single,
finished action first – the power went out) “While we were waiting at the bus stop,
we saw a car accident.”
(Thankfully, nobody got hurt.)
OK, that’s it for the past continuous tense.
But, before we move on to the next tense, let’s do a quick comparison of the four
tenses we’ve looked at so far.
“I drink coffee every morning.”
Is in the present simple tense.
As you can see on the timeline now, this sentence expresses a habit or a routine, something
that happens regularly.
“I am drinking coffee right now.”
Is in the present continuous tense.
It means that I am doing this action (drinking coffee) at this moment.
“I drank coffee yesterday.”
Expresses a finished action in the past – that coffee is gone.
So, this sentence is in the past simple tense.
And in the last sentence: “I was drinking coffee this morning when I got a phone call
from my boss.”
We see two actions.
One is an unfinished, continuous action – “I was drinking coffee” (that’s a past continuous
form) and in the middle of that, something happened – “I got a phone call from my
That is a past simple tense form.
So, my boss said, “We need you at the office.
Get here right now.”
And I had to throw out my coffee and rush to work.
Anyway, let’s move on.
We’re now going to look at the present perfect tense.
or V3 form.
We say “have” if the subject is I/You/We/They and “has” if the subject is He/She/It.
For example: “I have taught English to many students.”
“Ashley has visited France four times.”
“We have seen two movies this week.”
The present perfect tense has two main uses.
These sentences show the first use: to talk about experiences.
Sentence number one is about my experience in my teaching career.
Of course, I’m still a teacher, so my career is not finished; it’s continuing.
We CAN say “I have taught English to many students in my career.”
But that’s not necessary; it’s understood.
Similarly, “Ashley has visited France four times in her life”, so the time period here
is Ashley’s life (which is still ongoing).
In the third sentence, the time period is this week.
Maybe today is Wednesday, so this week is not finished; we might see another two movies
before the end of the week.
So, in these sentences, the time period is continuing or ongoing – my career, Ashley’s
life, and this week.
But, if the time period is finished, we just use the past simple tense: “I taught many
students when I was a teacher.”
In this sentence, my career is over.
It means I’m not a teacher now; I was for some time.
During that time, I taught many students, but then I quit that line of work and became
a pop singer.
“Ashley visited France in 2015.”
(2015 is in the past) “We saw two movies last week.”
(again, last week is gone) So, this is the first use of the present perfect – to discuss
experiences in continuing, ongoing time periods.
The second use is to talk about recent actions or events.
For example: “I have finished my homework.”
You can imagine a kid saying this to her mom.
Well, when did she finish her homework?
Maybe 5 or 10 minutes ago.
But, that’s not important – the important thing is the completion of the homework.
You see this on the timeline now – the girl finished her homework just a few minutes ago,
but she’s not saying the specific time because it’s not necessary (that’s why there’s
a question mark – no mention of the time).
Here’s another sentence: “Arthur has lost his glasses.”
We don’t say when because the important thing is that now, Arthur doesn’t have his
One more example: “The police have arrested a young man in connection with the robbery.”
So, there was a robbery in the neighborhood recently, and now the police have a young
suspect in custody.
The exact time of the arrest is not important.
In all of these sentences, if you want to mention the specific time, you should use
the past simple tense.
“I finished my homework at 6.30 p.m.” “Arthur lost his glasses at the party.”
(the party was maybe last weekend, so this is all old news) “The police arrested a
young man last night in connection with the robbery.”
So, remember that there are two main uses of the present perfect tense: to talk about
experiences and to talk about recent events.
Alright, now let’s move on to the next tense: the present perfect continuous.
We make the present perfect continuous tense with a subject + have/has been + a verb in
continuous (or -ing) form.
If the subject is I/You/We/They, we use “have”.
If the subject is He/She/It, we use “has”.
For example: “I have been waiting to see the doctor for two hours.”
You can imagine this lady saying that.
So, it means that she came to the clinic maybe at 5 o’clock, and now it’s seven o’clock.
She started waiting at five; two hours have now passed, and she is still waiting.
So, the present perfect continuous tense talks about an action that started in the past and
is still continuing.
In this sentence, we can also say, “I have been waiting since five p.m.”
The difference between “for” and “since” is that “for” talks about the amount of
time like two hours.
“Since” is used to mention the starting point of the action like five p.m.
Here is another sentence: “He has been playing tennis since he was a child.”
He started when he was little (maybe when he was five years old), and he still plays
Let’s say he’s 25 now, so “He’s been playing tennis for 20 years.”
A few more examples: “She has been learning English for eight months / since last October.”
“We’ve been living in this town for a very long time / since 1980.”
“It has been raining all morning / since 4 a.m.”
Now here, the duration is “all morning”.
In fixed phrases like “all morning, all day, all week” etc. we don’t use “for”.
But you can say, “since 4 a.m.” if you want to mention the starting point.
I want to alert you to a common mistake here.
If you say, “I am waiting to see the doctor for two hours” or “He is playing tennis
since he was a child”, those are not correct.
You can say, “Right now, I am waiting to see the doctor” or “He is playing tennis”.
But when you mention the amount of time (like two hours), or when you mention the starting
point (like since he was a child), you must use the present perfect continuous tense.
This is true with the other sentences here as well.
So, keep this point in mind.
Alright, so this is the present perfect continuous tense.
Let’s move on to the next tense – the past perfect.
Before we talk about this tense, take a look at this past simple tense sentence.
“When we got to the theater, the movie started.”
There are two past actions in this sentence: “got to the theater” which means “we
arrived there”, and “the movie started”.
You can see in the timeline that we got to the theater first, and then, right after that,
the movie started playing.
But what about this sentence: “When we got to the theater, the movie had started.”
That means the movie started before we got to the theater.
So, the movie started first, then we arrived.
This is the past perfect tense: we make it with a subject + had + a verb in past participle
(or V3) form.
When we have two actions in the past, we use the past perfect to clearly show which action
Here’s another example: “I was sick because I had eaten too much the previous night.”
Two actions: “I was sick” and “I had eaten too much the previous night”.
Which happened first?
“I had eaten too much food”, then the next day, “I was sick”.
Next example: “The girl looked very familiar.
I had seen her somewhere before.”
First, “I had seen her somewhere before” (maybe a few years before), so “she looked
“Joel rushed to his boss’s office, but she had gone home already.”
“She (meaning the boss) had gone home already”, so when Joel rushed to see her, she wasn’t
As you can see, the past perfect tense is really easy; just remember that when we have
two past actions, we use the past perfect if we want to clearly indicate which happened
first; we do this to avoid confusion in the order of events.
Alright, let’s turn to our next tense now: this is the past perfect continuous.
This tense is just like the past perfect simple, except the first past action is continuous.
For example: “I felt really tired because I had been driving all day.”
So, you know that I felt tired at some point in the past.
And that was because before that, “I had been driving” that entire day.
So, the earlier past action was a continuous one.
We make this tense with a subject + had been + a verb in continuous (or -ing) form.
Here’s another sentence: “She had been waiting for two hours when the doctor finally
Remember that lady who was waiting for the doctor?
Well, the doctor came, so her wait ended, but before that point, “she had been waiting
for two hours.”
Here, the past perfect continuous form comes first in the sentence, but that’s OK.
Some more examples: “The ground was wet because it had been raining.”
“It had been raining” first, and so, the ground was wet.
“When he quit his job at the factory, he had been working there for 12 years.”
So, remember that the present perfect continuous tense is used to talk about a continuous action
in the past before another finished action.
Alright, it’s time now for another review.
We’re going to do a quick comparison of the four perfect tenses we’ve looked at
“I have washed the dishes.”
Is in the present perfect tense.
It focuses on the completion of the action and doesn’t mention the exact time.
But you understand that I finished washing the dishes maybe just a few minutes ago.
“I have been washing the dishes for half an hour.”
Is in the present perfect continuous tense.
It means that I have not finished washing them yet.
I started half an hour ago, and I’m still doing it.
“When I left for work, I had washed the dishes.”
Here, “I had washed the dishes” is in the past perfect tense.
It means that first I finished washing them, and after that I left for work.
“When the phone rang, I had been washing the dishes for half an hour.”
So, the phone rang at some point in the past.
Half an hour before that I started washing the dishes, and I was still doing that when
the phone rang.
So, I stopped, wiped my hands dry, and I went to answer the phone.
Alright, now we move on to talking about the future.
The first tense for us to look at is the future simple.
Now, this tense is a little tricky because there are a few different future simple forms.
The three most important are going to, the present continuous (using an -ing verb), and
Let’s talk about where to use these.
We use “going to” to express plans and intentions.
We make this form with a subject + am/is/are and then going to + a verb in its base form.
For example: “We are going to buy a car.”
That means we have a plan to buy a car soon.
“I am going to start exercising regularly.”
“Rahul is going to take a vacation from work.”
Now, if it’s more than a plan, if we have made the arrangements, then we use the present
This is a tense you know already, and when we use it to talk about the future, it is
stronger than “going to”.
For example: “I am having lunch with my parents on Saturday.”
So, my parents and I have a plan to do that, but also, we have agreed on the time and place.
Here’s another sentence: “We are flying to Mumbai the day after tomorrow.”
So, we’ve purchased the flight tickets, and our trip is confirmed.
“Josh is giving a presentation to the board of directors on the 10th.”
“On the 10th” means “on the 10th of this month”.
This is also a fixed arrangement.
Now, you might be asking, “So what’s the difference really between going to and the
Well, here is a situation to help you understand: “I’m going to see the dentist sometime
I’m laughing because of the picture.
OK, so do I have a plan to see the dentist?
But, do I know on exactly what day?
I haven’t booked an appointment yet.
But if I say: “I’m seeing the dentist tomorrow afternoon.”
That is confirmed; I have an appointment.
One more example: “We’re going to get married this year.”
Is the date fixed?
It’s a plan.
“We’re getting married on April 21st.”
Is the date fixed?
This is an arrangement.
So, that’s the difference between “going to” and the present continuous.
But, what about “will”?
Let’s talk about that now.
“Will” is used to express three things: instant decisions, that is, decisions that
we make suddenly at the time of speaking; offers; and promises.
We make this form with a subject + will + a verb in its base form.
At a restaurant, a waiter asks you: “May I take your order?”
And you say: “Yes, I will have the burger and fries combo, please.”
This is an instant decision.
You didn’t plan two weeks ago to eat this food at this restaurant on this day.
You just made the decision now.
Here’s another example.
Someone says: “The phone’s ringing.”
And you say: “I will get it.”
You just decided to answer the phone.
The next two examples show “will” used to make offers: “These files are really
“I will help you with them.”
So, I’m offering to help this person carry the files.
That person can say: “OK, thank you” or “No, thanks.
I can do it myself.”
Similarly, “It’s hard to get a cab at this hour.
I will give you a ride home.”
You might say that to a colleague of yours when leaving work late.
Your colleague might accept or politely decline your offer.
And here is “will” used to make promises: “Can you lend me $200?
I’ll pay you back next week.”
“Thank you for your email.
We will respond within two business days.”
Alright, so far, we’ve talked about expressing plans and intentions with “going to”,
fixed arrangements with the present continuous, and the three uses of “will”: instant
decisions, offers and promises.
But, there’s one more future function that you need to know about, and that is making
To make predictions or guesses about the future, we can use both “will” and “going to”.
These two forms are interchangeable for making predictions in many situations (meaning you
can choose whichever one you want).
But, there is a slight difference: we normally use “will” to make predictions based on
our knowledge or our own personal experience: “I think Spain will win the 2018 World Cup.”
They’ve been playing well recently, so based on that knowledge, I think they’ll win the
“You should watch Interstellar.
I’m sure you will love it.
“ I know that you like science fiction films, so I’m confident you will like this one.
We use “going to” when we make predictions based on something in the present (something
we can see now), so we’re sure: “Look at the sky.
It’s going to rain soon.”
We can see a lot of black clouds, so it’s definitely going to rain in a few minutes.
“Mom’s going to be really happy when she sees my grades.”
So, this kid has done well on his exams; he has his report card in hand, and he knows
for sure that his mother is going to be happy when she sees it.
Alright, so remember this difference in making predictions with “will” and “going to”.
OK, we’ve covered a lot of information about the future simple tense, so let’s do a quick
recap of it.
We use “going to” to talk about plans and intentions: “We are going to buy a car.”
We use the present continuous to talk about fixed arrangements: “I’m having lunch
with my parents on Saturday.”
We use “will” for three main purposes: to express instant decisions: “I’ll have
the burger and fries combo, please.”
To make offers: “I’ll help you with those files.”
And to make promises: “Can you lend me $200?
I’ll pay you back next week.”
We use both “will” and “going to” to make predictions.
If a prediction is based on our opinion, knowledge or experience, we use “will”: “I think
Spain will win the 2018 World Cup.”
If a prediction is based on something we see right now, then we use “going to”: “Look
at the sky.
It’s going to rain soon.”
Alright, let’s now move on and talk about the next tense: the future continuous.
We make the future continuous tense with a subject + will be + a verb in continuous (or
For example: “At 11 a.m. tomorrow, I will be driving to Portland.”
So, tomorrow, at nine in the morning, I’m going to start driving to Portland; it will
take me many hours to get there.
But at 11 o’clock, I will be doing this activity: driving.
The future continuous tense expresses an action that will be ongoing (that will be in progress)
at some time in the future.
Here’s another example.
Some of your friends are planning to go and see a movie on Saturday.
One of them asks you: “(Hey) Do you want to come with us to the movies on Saturday?”
And you say: “I can’t.
I will be working until late.”
“Until late” means “until late at night.”
So, you have an afternoon shift on Saturday, and that evening, you will still be in your
office, doing your work, so you can’t go to the movies.
This is the main use of the future continuous tense, but sometimes, we use this tense to
talk about a fixed or a routine event in the future.
You know I’m traveling to Portland tomorrow: “I will be staying at the Hilton hotel in
This is a fixed arrangement.
It has the same meaning as saying: I’m staying or “I’m going to stay at the Hilton hotel
All of these forms are correct in this case.
One more example at the workplace: One colleague says to another: “I’m going to the cafeteria.
Do you want me to bring you a coffee?”
The reply: “Thanks, but don’t bother.
I will be going there in a little while myself.”
It’s a routine thing I do at this time every day.
It’s also correct if you say, “I’m going there in a little while myself”.
So, that’s the future continuous.
We now turn to the next two tenses; we’re going to look at these together: the future
perfect and the future perfect continuous.
To understand the future perfect, let’s take a situation: this is Aaron.
He wants to save up some money, so he is going to save $100 a month from now on.
This is February now, so “By August (which is six months from now), Aaron will have saved
This sentence shows that the action (of saving 600 bucks) will be complete by that time.
This is the future perfect tense.
It takes a point in the future (like August), and it looks back; it talks about the completion
of an action by that time.
Now, in this sentence, the focus is on the money.
If, instead, we want to focus on the amount of time, then we can say: “By August, Aaron
will have been saving money for six months.”
That is, he will have finished six months of saving and he will continue saving money.
This is the future perfect continuous tense.
We use it talk about an ongoing action (an action that will be in progress) in the future
and to also mention the duration or length of that action at a particular time.
We make this tense with a subject + will have been + a verb in continuous or -ing form.
Here’s one more example: My wife and I are going to paint our living room tomorrow.
That’s the plan.
We’re going to start at 7 a.m.
We expect that it’ll take us about 10 hours.
So, “By 5 p.m., we will have painted the living room.”
I can also say: “By 5 p.m., we will have finished.”
I can make a future perfect continuous sentence like this: “By 5 p.m., we will have been
painting the living room for ten hours.”
The future perfect simple and the future perfect continuous tenses are not that common.
They’re found very little in speech and a little more in writing.
Understanding these two tenses can be helpful, but don’t worry too much if you’re not
sure how to use them correctly.
They’re not extremely important, and you will get better at using them with time and
Alright, that brings us to the end of this lesson.
I hope you enjoyed it and learned from it.
As always, happy learning, and I will see you in another lesson soon.