Chart For Tenses Examples, Rules, and Structures

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Chart For Tenses Examples, Rules, and Structures! English tenses can be tricky to understand, especially when you are first starting out. This chart breaks down the different examples of each tense, along with its structure and rules. With this information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to use tenses correctly in your writing with ease.

What are the Tenses?

There are three main tenses in English- past, present, and future. Each tense has a specific purpose, and understanding when to use each one is crucial for effective communication.

The past tense is used to describe events that have already happened. This could be something that you did yesterday or something that happened long ago.

For example:

  • I went to the store.
  • We played games all afternoon.
  • She read a book.

The present tense is used to describe what is happening now, or what happens regularly.

For example:

  • I am studying for my test.
  • He likes to play soccer.
  • They are watching TV.

The future tense is used to describe things that will happen in the future. This could be something that you are going to do, or something that will happen on its own.

For example:

  • I will go to the store later.
  • We will play games all afternoon.
  • She will read a book.

Tenses Chart

Tenses Structure Examples
Present Indefinite Positive S + V1 + ‘s’ or ‘es’ +  O He writes a book daily.
Present Indefinite Negative S + Do/Does not + V1 + O He does not write a book daily.
Present Indefinite Questions Do/Does + S + V1 + O + ? Does he write a book daily?
Present Continuous Positive S + is/am/are  + (V1-ing) + O He is writing a book.
Present Continuous Negative S + is/am/are  +  not +
(V1-ing) + O
He is not writing a book.
Present Continuous Question Is/am/are + S + (V1-ing) + O + ? Is he writing a book?
Present Perfect Positive S + has/have + V3 + O He has written a book.
Present Perfect Negative S + Has/have not + V3 + O He has not written a book.
Present Perfect Question Has/have + S + V3 + O + ? Has he written a book?
Past Indefinite Positive S + V2 + O He a book yesterday.
Past Indefinite Negative S + Did not + V1 + O He did not write a book yesterday.
Past Indefinite Questions Did + S + V1 + O + ? Did he write a book yesterday?
Past Continuous Positive S + was/were  +
(V1-ing) + O
He was writing a book yesterday.
Past Continuous Negative S + was/were  +  not + (V1-ing) + O He was not writing a book yesterday.
Past Continuous Question Was/were + S + (V1-ing) + O + ? Was he writing a book yesterday?
Past Perfect Positive S + Had  +  V3 + O He had written a book.
Past Perfect Negative S + Had not + V3 + O He had not written a book.
Past Perfect Question Had + S + V3 + O + ? Had he written a book?
Future Indefinite Positive Will/Shall + V1 + O He will write a book tomorrow.
Future Indefinite Negative S + Will/Shall not + V1 + O He will not write a book tomorrow.
Future Indefinite Questions Will/Shall + S + V1 + O + ? Will he write a book tomorrow?
Future Continuous Positive S + Will/Shall +  be +  (V1 + ’ing’) + O He will be writing a book tomorrow.
Future Continuous Negative S + Will/Shall  +  not +  be + (V1 + ’ing’) + O He will not be writing a book tomorrow.
Future Continuous Question Will/Shall + S + be + (V1 + ’ing’) + O + ? Will he be writing a book tomorrow?
Future Perfect Positive S + Will/Shall have  + V3 + O He will have written a book.
Future Perfect Negative S + Will/Shall not + have  + V3 + O He will not have written a book.
Future Perfect Question Will/Shall + S + have + V3 + O + ? Will he have written a book?
Present Perfect Continuous Positive S + has/have + been +  (V1-ing) + O He has been writing a book since morning.
Present Perfect Continuous Negative S + has/have  not +  been  + (V1-ing) + O He has not been writing a book since morning.
Present Perfect Continuous Question Has/have + S + been +  (V1-ing) + O + ? Has he been writing a book since morning?
Past Perfect Continuous Positive S + had + been  +  (V1-ing) + O He had been writing a book since morning.
Past Perfect Continuous Negative S + had not + been  + (V1-ing) + O He had not been writing a book since morning.
Past Perfect Continuous Question Had + S + been + (V1-ing) + O + ? Had he been writing a book since morning?
Future Perfect Continuous Positive S + will/shall have  +  been + (V1-ing) + O He will have been writing a book since morning.
Future Perfect Continuous Negative S + will/shall not + have  + been + (V1-ing) + O He will not have been writing a book since morning.
Future Perfect Continuous Question Will/shall + S + have + been + (V1-ing) + O + ? Will he have been writing a book since morning?

Tenses Chart

1- Present Simple Tense

Now that you know the basics of each tense, let’s take a closer look at some of the different examples of tenses and when to use them.

The present simple tense is used to describe habits or things that happen regularly. To form the present simple tense, you just need to add an -s to the end of the verb for he, she, and it sentences.

Structure: S + V + s/es + O

For example:

  • He likes to play soccer.
  • They watch TV.
  • It rains a lot in Seattle.

To make a sentence negative, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + do/does not + V + O

Structure (?): Do/Does + S + V + O

For example:

  • Does he like to play soccer?
  • Do they watch TV?
  • Does it rain a lot in Seattle?

2- Present Continuous Tense

The present continuous tense is used to describe things that are happening now. To form the present continuous tense, you need to use the present tense of the verb “to be” and add an -ing verb.

Structure: S + am/is/are + V-ing + O

For example:

  • I am studying for my test.
  • He is playing soccer.
  • They are watching TV.

To make a sentence negative in the present continuous tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + am/is/are not + V-ing + O

Structure (?): Am/Is/Are + S + V-ing + O

For example:

  • Am I studying for my test?
  • Is he playing soccer?
  • Are they watching TV?

3- Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is used to describe things that have happened in the past but are still relevant now. To form the present perfect tense, you need to use the present tense of the verb “to have” and add a past participle verb.

Structure: S + have/has + V3 + O

For example:

  • I have gone to the store.
  • We have eaten a lot.
  • She has read a book.

To make a sentence negative in the present perfect tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + have/has not + V3 + O

Structure (?): Have/Has + S + V3 + O

For example:

  • Have I gone to the store?
  • Has she read the book?
  • I have not done my homework.

4- Past Simple Tense

The past simple tense is used to describe things that happened in the past and are now over. To form the past simple tense, you need to use the past tense of the second form of the verb.

Structure: S + V2 + O

For example:

  • I went to the store.
  • We played games all afternoon.
  • She read a book.

To make a sentence negative in the past simple tense, you need to add the word “did not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + did not + V1 + O

Structure (?): Did + S + V1 + O

For example:

  • Did I go to the store?
  • Did we play games all afternoon?
  • Did she read the book?

5- Past Continuous Tense

The past continuous tense is used to describe things that were happening in the past at a specific time. To form the past continuous tense, you need to use the past tense of the verb “to be” and add an -ing verb.

Structure: S + was/were + V-ing + O

For example:

  • I was studying for my test.
  • He was playing soccer.
  • They were watching TV.

To make a sentence negative in the past continuous tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + was/were not + V-ing + O

Structure (?): Was/Were + S+ V-ing + O

For example:

  • Was I studying for my test?
  • Were they watching TV?
  • I was not going to school.

6- Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense is used to describe things that happened in the past before other things happened. To form the past perfect tense, you need to use the past perfect tense of the verb “to have” and add a past participle verb.

Structure: S + had + V3 + O

For example:

  • I had gone to the store before she arrived.
  • We had eaten lunch before we went to the park.
  • She had read the book before she watched the movie.

To make a sentence negative in the past perfect tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + had not + V3 + O

Structure (?): Had + S + V3 + O

For example:

  • Had I gone to the store before she arrived?
  • Had we eaten lunch before we went to the park?
  • He had not played foot.

7- Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous tense is used to describe things that have been happening up until now. To form the present perfect continuous tense, you need to use the present tense of the verb “to have” and “to be” and add an -ing verb.

Structure: S + have/has been + V-ing + O

For example:

  • I have been studying for my test.
  • He has been playing soccer.
  • They have been watching TV.

To make a sentence negative in the present perfect continuous tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + have/has not been + V-ing + O

Structure (?): Have/Has + S + been + V-ing + O

For example:

  • Have I been studying for my test?
  • Has he been playing soccer?
  • They have not been watching TV.

8- Future Simple Tense

The future tense is used to describe things that will happen in the future. To form the future tense, you need to use the present tense of the verb “to be” and add a going to verb.

Structure: S + will/shall + V1 + O

For example:

  • I will go to the store.
  • We will play games all afternoon.
  • She will read a book.

To make a sentence negative in the future tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + will/shall not + V1 + O

Structure (?): Will/Shall + S + V1 + O

For example:

  • Will I go to the store?
  • Shall we play games all afternoon?
  • She will not read a book.

9- Future Continuous Tense

The future continuous tense is used to describe things that will be happening at a specific time in the future. To form the future continuous tense, you need to use the present tense of the verb “to be” and add an -ing verb.

Structure: S + will/shall be + V-ing + O

For example:

  • I will be studying for my test at 6 pm.
  • We will be playing soccer at 3 pm.
  • They will be watching TV at 9 pm.

To make a sentence negative in the future continuous tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + will/shall not be + V-ing + O

Structure (?): Will/Shall + S+ be + V-ing + O

For example:

  • Will I be studying for my test at 6 pm?
  • Shall we be playing soccer at 3 pm?
  • They will not be watching TV at 9 pm.

10- Future Perfect Tense

The future perfect tense is used to describe things that will have already happened by a specific time in the future. To form the future perfect tense, you need to use the present tense of the verb “to have” and add a past participle verb.

Structure: S + will/shall have + V3 + O

For example:

  • I will have gone to the store before she arrives.
  • We will have eaten lunch before we go to the park.
  • She will have read the book before she watches the movie.

To make a sentence negative in the future perfect tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + will/shall not have + V3 + O

Structure (?): Will/Shall + S + have + V3 + O

For example:

  • Will I have gone to the store before she arrives?
  • Shall we have eaten lunch before we go to the park?
  • She will not have read the book before she watches the movie.

11- Future Perfect Continuous Tense

The future perfect continuous tense is used to describe things that will have been happening up until a specific time in the future. To form the future perfect continuous tense, you need to use the present tense of the verb “to have” and “to be” and add an -ing verb.

Structure: S + will/shall have been + V-ing + O

For example:

  • I will have been studying for my test for two hours by 6 pm.
  • We will have been playing soccer for three hours by 4 pm.
  • They will have been watching TV for four hours by 8 pm.

To make a sentence negative in the future perfect continuous tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + will/shall not have been + V-ing + O

Structure (?): Will/Shall + S+ have been + V-ing + O

For example:

  • Will I have been studying for my test for two hours by 6 pm?
  • Shall we have been playing soccer for three hours by 4 pm?
  • They will not have been watching TV for four hours by 8 pm.

12- Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The past perfect continuous tense is used to describe things that were happening up until a specific point in the past. To form the past perfect continuous tense, you need to use the past tense of the verb “to have” and “to be” and add an -ing verb.

Structure: S + had been + V-ing + O

For example:

  • I had been studying for my test for two hours before she arrived.
  • We had been playing soccer for three hours before we went to the park.
  • They had been watching TV for four hours before they went to bed.

To make a sentence negative in the past perfect continuous tense, you need to add the word “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Structure (-): S + had not been + V-ing + O

Structure (?): Had + S+ been + V-ing + O

For example:

  • Had I been studying for my test for two hours before she arrived?
  • Had we been playing soccer for three hours before we went to the park?
  • They had not been watching TV for four hours before they went to bed.

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