The Twelve Tenses in the English Language

Learning grammar can be very difficult for our students. Particularly when they compare it to their own language. In the Thai language, the verb “play” stays the same for all tenses. They just add an additional word to show the tense. In much the same way we do for future tense when we say “I will play”. From that point of view, there are only two real tenses in English; present and past – “play”/”played”. But, in reality, there are three main tenses in English. Namely, past, present and future. And each of these has sub-sections making it a total of twelve tenses that our students have to learn.

The list is as follows:

PAST TENSE

  1. Past simple – I played football yesterday
  2. Past perfect – I had played football before the rain started
  3. Past continuous – I was playing football when it started to rain
  4. Past perfect continuous – I had been playing football for two weeks

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PRESENT TENSE

  1. Present simple – I play football every weekend
  2. Present perfect – I have played football for five years
  3. Present continuous – I am playing football today
  4. Present perfect continuous – I have been playing football all day

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FUTURE TENSE

  1. Future Simple – I will play football this weekend
  2. Future perfect – I will have played football before it gets dark at 7pm
  3. Future continuous – I will be playing football when you come home
  4. Future perfect continuous – I will have been playing football all afternoon

Click here for more information and exercises.