Put on your thinking cap and here we GO
Present Simple: in the Present
Uses: Facts, routines, habits
To give instruction or directions
Signal Words: every day/week/month; twice a day/week/month, often, usually, sometimes,never
I watch the news every day.
I read; He /She reads I study; He /She studies
Negatives: ‘do’; ‘don’t’; ‘does’ & ‘doesn’t’
Present Continuous: in the Present- action
Uses: To describe an action that is going on at the moment
To describe a temporary event of situation
With always, forever, constantly to describe and emphasize a continuing
series of repeated actions
Signal words: at the moment, right now, still, just, while
I am watching a good film at the moment
Form: Root verb + (–ing) end study studying
[am / is/ are] + [verb + -ing]
Note: Non-continuous verbs (State) verbs are not normally used in continuous tenses.
She is wanting a drink of coffee now. = Not Correct
She wants a drink of coffee now. = Correct
Present Perfect Simple: Has occurred relative to the Present
A bridge between the past and now at some unspecified time
Uses: A present situation that started in the past
A past event that caused a present situation
A repeated action in an unspecified period between the past & now
As a conversation opener, in order to establish the topic of conversation or
to introduce a story; for example:
Have you ever been to Scotland?
Have I ever told you about the time I went.....
Used to locate an action in time up to now
Signal words: up to now; until now; so far; since; often, yet, already, before, ever, just
Form: [has/have] + [past participle verb form]
She has worked at HTW since 1998.
Present perfect is never used with definite time expressions; i.e. time expressions which describe
fixed points in the past (finished time).
In 1999; when I was five; yesterday; before I left school; last week; at 7am; two minutes ago; last term; at Christmas – Use past simple
Present perfect can be used with some indefinite time expressions which describe time up-to-now:
this year; since I was six; this week; recently; ever; yet; for the last few days; within the last week.
Present Perfect Continuous:
Continuous action or condition that has been occurring relative to the present
Creates an unbroken bridge between the past and now at some unspecified time
Uses: It refers to an unspecified time between before now and now
To describe the process as well as the result, and thus the process may
still be going on, or may have just finished – thus highlighting the process
Can reflect continuity within the link
Signal words: since; for
Form: [has/have been] + [Present participle verb]
She has been working at HTW for six months.
Past Simple: in the Past
Uses: Is used to talk about a completed action at a time before now, duration is
not important, the time of the action can be in the recent or distant past.
Used when it was some event or incident in the past and you have moved
on and are no longer interested.
You always use the simple past when you say when (a definite point in
time) something happened, so it is associated with certain past time
Frequency: often, sometimes, always,
A definite point in time: last week, yesterday, six weeks ago
An indefinite point of time: ages ago, along time ago
(It happened a long time ago; that was ages ago!)
Chronological order: The door opened slowly and a man came in...
Form: [VERB + ed] Regular or Irregular past form of the verb
Three years ago, I studied German in Berlin.
When the phone rang, I washed my hair.
Details: When we want to give or receive (ask for) details involving the past, we
use the past simple. (WHEN; WHERE; WHO; WHY)
Past Continuous: Was occurring in the Past
Uses: To describe something; which was in progress when the main events in the
To describe an unfinished action interrupted by another event or action
I was sitting at home watching the television, when my brother walked in the
To describe the background in a story written in the past tense
It was late summer. People were sitting in street cafes, enjoying the sunshine
and watching the world go by.
As he was skiing down the slopes, he hit a stone and broke his leg in two places.
To answer questions initiated by: What were you doing?
Form: [WAS/WERE] + [VERB + ing]
When the phone rang, I was in the middle of washing my hair.
Past Perfect: relative to the Past
Uses: To make clear that one event happened before another in the past
She had already eaten when I arrived.
To refer to actions completed before another in the past
When the phone rang, I had already washed my hair.
Form: [HAD] + [past participle]
I had studied a little German before I moved to Switzerland.
Time Reference: Past Perfect can refers to a time earlier than before now
‘Just’ is used with the Past Perfect to refer to an event that was only a short time
earlier than before now.
I had just tried to call her, when she knocked on the door.
Past Perfect Continuous:
Reference: Had been occurring relative to the past
Uses: To give a chronological order to past events
Refers to an action that began before another action in the past and was
continuing at the moment of the other action
Form: [HAD] + [BEEN] + [present participle of the verb]
I had been studying German for five years before I moved to Switzerland.
Future Simple: Will occur in the future
Uses: To express a voluntary action
• Offers to do something for someone else
• To respond to someone else’s complaint or request for help
To express a promise
I will call you back as soon as possible
To express an instant decision
What would you like to drink? - I‘ll have a large orange juice
To indicate or announce a definite future decision
To express a prediction
When making a general prediction about the future
Form: [WILL] + [VERB] I will help him later; I will never help him
When using a verb tense with more than one part (will help), adverbs (never);
adverbs come between the 1st and 2nd. part.
Time Reference: No future form in time clauses
Like all future forms, the future simple cannot be used in clauses beginning with
‘when’, ‘while’, ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘by the time’, ‘as soon as’, ‘if’ and ‘unless’
When you arrive tonight, we will watch a film. – CORRECT
When you will arrive tonight, we will study English. – WRONG
A specific time can be used to show the time that an action will begin.
Future Continuous: Will be in the future
I will be watching TV when she arrives tonight.
Use of a specific time as an interruption
Tonight at 7pm, I will still be working. i.e. the specific time only interrupts
the action ( I will start earlier and I will be in the process of working at 7pm)
To use two actions in the same sentence to express the idea that both
actions will be happening at the same time
Tonight, we will be studying English, discussing the use of tenses, and having a
To describe atmosphere in the future and as a polite form
To refer to actions which are arranged or expected to happen
We’ll be introducing more and more new product lines.
Form: [WILL BE] + [VERB + ing]
Future Perfect: Will relative to the future
It can also show that something will happen before a specific time in the
By next November, I will have covered most of the grammar in our text book.
To refer to actions completed by a certain time in the future
By the end of the year we’ll have reduced our paper invoices from 5million to
With non-continuous verbs - to show that something will continue up until
another action in the future
I will have been in London for six months by the time I leave.
Form: [WILL HAVE] + [PAST PARTICIPLE]
I will have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.
Future Perfect Continuous:
Will be action in the future
Uses: To show that something will continue up until a particular event or time in future
Durations such as “For five minutes”, “For two weeks” and “since Friday”
can be used. Note this is related to the (present and past) perfect continuous,
however the duration stops in the future.
They will have been working for over an hour by the time Peter arrives
She will have been working at that company for five years when it closes.
Cause of something in the future. It can be used to show ‘cause and effect’.
Sara will be tired when she gets home because she will have been working for
over nine hours.
Form: [WILL HAVE BEEN] + [VERB + ing]
I will have been reading for an hour when my children return. = (meaning - The
reading will stop just before my children return)