Explained: The 12 Tenses in English

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Dan

If you’re a teacher, then you know that there are 12 tenses in English. But do you know how to explain them to your students? In this blog post, we’ll break down the 12 tenses so you can confidently teach them. Keep reading to find out more!

the twelve tenses

Present Simple Tense

The present simple tense is used to talk about habits or routines. It’s also used for facts that are always true and unchanging. To make a sentence in the present simple, use “to be” (am/is/are) plus the main verb in its base form. For example: “I am eating dinner.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She works in a bank.
  • 2. The sun rises in the east.
  • 3. We speak English at home.
  • 4. He brushes his teeth twice a day.
  • 5. It rains every day here in Seattle.
  • 6. I play football on Saturdays.
  • 7. They go to school by bus.
  • 8. She loves to read books.
  • 9. We take a holiday in August.
  • 10. He likes to watch movies on Sundays.

Present Continuous Tense

The present continuous tense is used to talk about something happening now or shortly. To make a sentence in this tense, use “to be” (am/is/are) plus the leading verb with “-ing”. For example: “I am eating dinner now.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She is working in a bank today.
  • 2. The sun is rising in the east now.
  • 3. We are speaking English at home tonight.
  • 4. He is brushing his teeth twice a day this week.
  • 5. It has been raining every day here in Seattle lately.
  • 6. I play football on Saturdays this month.
  • 7. They are going to school by a bus tomorrow.
  • 8. She loves to read books now.
  • 9. We are taking a holiday in August this year.
  • 10. He likes to watch movies on Sundays and every weekend.

Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is used to talk about something that has happened in the past but affects the present. To make a sentence in this tense, use “has/have” plus the main verb in its past participle form. For example: “I have eaten dinner.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She has worked in a bank before.
  • 2. The sun has risen in the east many times.
  • 3. We have spoken English at home for years.
  • 4. He has brushed his teeth twice daily since he was young.
  • 5. It has rained every day here in Seattle this month.
  • 6. I have played football on Saturdays for a long time.
  • 7. They have gone to school by bus since kindergarten.
  • 8. She has loved to read books all her life.
  • 9. We have to take a holiday in August every summer.
  • 10. He has liked to watch movies on Sundays since he was a child.

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous tense is used to talk about something that has been happening until now. To make a sentence in this tense, use “have/has” plus the leading verb with “-ing”. For example: “I have been eating dinner all night.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She has worked in a bank for the last few weeks.
  • 2. The sun has been rising in the east every morning.
  • 3. We have been speaking English at home since we moved here.
  • 4. He has been brushing his teeth twice daily for months.
  • 5. It had been raining every day here in Seattle since last week.
  • 6. I have been playing football on Saturdays for the past year.
  • 7. They have been going to school by bus all term.
  • 8. She has loved to read books since she was a child.
  • 9. We have been taking a holiday in August since we were married.
  • 10. He has liked to watch movies on Sundays since he got his first TV.

Past Simple Tense

The simple past tense is used to talk about something that happened in the past and is now over. To make a sentence in this tense, use “did” plus the main verb in its base form. For example: “I ate dinner last night.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She worked in a bank last year.
  • 2. The sun rose in the east this morning.
  • 3. We spoke English at home when we were young.
  • 4. He brushed his teeth twice a day yesterday.
  • 5. It rained every day here in Seattle last week.
  • 6. I played football on Saturdays when I was a kid.
  • 7. They went to school by bus every day.
  • 8. She has loved to read books since she was a child.
  • 9. We took a holiday in August last summer.
  • 10. He liked to watch movies on Sundays when he was younger.

Past Continuous Tense

The past continuous tense is used to talk about something happening in the past but has now stopped. To make a sentence in this tense, use “was/were” plus the leading verb with “-ing”. For example: “I was eating dinner when the phone rang.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She was working in a bank last month.
  • 2. The sun was rising in the east this morning.
  • 3. We spoke English at home when we visited India.
  • 4. He brushed his teeth twice a day before going to bed yesterday.
  • 5. It was raining every day here in Seattle before last weekend.
  • 6. I was playing football on Saturdays when it suddenly stopped raining.
  • 7. They went to school by bus every day until the holidays started.
  • 8. She has loved to read books since she was a child until she lost her glasses.
  • 9. We were taking a summer holiday in August until the bad weather started.
  • 10. He liked to watch movies on Sundays when he was younger until he got a job.

Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense is used to talk about something that happened before something else in the past. To make a sentence in this tense, use “had” plus the main verb in its past participle form. For example: “I had eaten dinner before the phone rang.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She had worked in a bank before she moved to the city.
  • 2. The sun had risen in the east before it started to rain.
  • 3. We spoke English at home when we visited India last year.
  • 4. He had brushed his teeth twice a day before he went to bed yesterday evening.
  • 5. It had rained every day here in Seattle before last weekend.
  • 6. I played football on Saturdays before it suddenly stopped raining.
  • 7. They went to school by bus every day until the holidays started.
  • 8. She had loved to read books since she was a child until she lost her glasses.
  • 9. We took a summer holiday in August until the bad weather started.
  • 10. He liked to watch movies on Sundays when he was younger until he got a job.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The past perfect continuous tense is used to talk about something that had been happening before something else in the past. To make a sentence in this tense, use “had been” plus the leading verb with “-ing”. For example: “I had been eating dinner when the phone rang.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She had worked in a bank for two years before moving to the city.
  • 2. The sun had been rising in the east when it suddenly started to rain.
  • 3. We have been speaking English at home since we visited India last year.
  • 4. He had brushed his teeth twice a day before he went to bed yesterday evening.
  • 5. It had been raining every day here in Seattle for a week before last weekend.
  • 6. I played football on Saturdays until it suddenly stopped raining.
  • 7. They had been going to school by bus every day since the beginning of the year until the holidays started.
  • 8. She had loved to read books since she was a child until she lost her glasses.
  • 9. We had been taking a summer holiday in August for two weeks until the bad weather started.
  • 10. He liked watching movies on Sundays when he was younger until he got a job.

Future Simple Tense

The future simple tense is used to talk about something that will happen. To make a sentence in this tense, use “will” plus the main verb in its base form. For example: “I will eat dinner tomorrow.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She will work in a bank next year.
  • 2. The sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning.
  • 3. We will speak English at home when we visit India next month.
  • 4. He will brush his teeth twice daily before going to bed tonight.
  • 5. It will rain every day here in Seattle next week.
  • 6. I will play football on Saturdays until it stops raining.
  • 7. They will go to school by bus every day when the holidays start.
  • 8. She will love to read books since she was a child when she got her glasses back.
  • 9. We will take a holiday in August next summer until the good weather starts.
  • 10. He likes to watch movies on Sundays when he is older after he gets a job.

Future Continuous Tense

The future continuous tense is used to talk about something happening in the future. To make a sentence in this tense, use “will be” plus the leading verb with “-ing”. For example: “I will eat dinner at 6 PM tomorrow.”

Here are ten more examples:

  • 1. She will work in a bank next year when she moves to the city.
  • 2. The sun will rise in the east when it starts raining tomorrow morning.
  • 3. We will speak English at home since we are visiting India next month.
  • 4. He will brush his teeth twice a day before going to bed tonight.
  • 5. It will be raining every day here in Seattle next week.
  • 6. I will be playing football on Saturdays until it stops raining.
  • 7. They will be going to school by bus every day when the holidays start.
  • 8. She will be loving to read books since she was a child when she gets her glasses back.
  • 9. We will be taking a holiday in August next summer until the good weather starts.
  • 10. He will be liking to watch movies on Sundays when he is older after he gets a job.

Future Perfect Tense

The future perfect tense is used to talk about something that will happen. To make a sentence in this tense, use “will have” plus the main verb in its past participle form. For example: “I will have eaten dinner by 6 PM tomorrow.”

Here are 10 more examples:

  • 1. She will have worked in a bank for two years when she moves to the city next year.
  • 2. The sun will have risen in the east before it starts raining tomorrow morning.
  • 3. We will have spoken English at home since we visit India next month.
  • 4. He will have brushed his teeth twice a day before he goes to bed tonight.
  • 5. It will have been raining every day here in Seattle for a week by next weekend.
  • 6. I will have played football on Saturdays until it stops raining.
  • 7. They will have gone to school by bus every day when the holidays start.
  • 8. She will have loved to read books since she was a child when she gets her glasses back.
  • 9. We will have taken a holiday in August next summer until the good weather starts.
  • 10. He will have liked to watch movies on Sundays when he is older after he gets a job.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

The future perfect continuous tense is used to talk about something that will have been happening until a certain point. To make a sentence in this tense, use “will have been” plus the leading verb with “-ing”. For example: “I will have been eating dinner all day tomorrow.”

Here are 10 more examples:

  • 1. She will have been working in a bank for the past two years when she moves to the city next year.
  • 2. The sun will have been rising in the east all morning before it starts raining tomorrow.
  • 3. We will have been speaking English at home since we visit India next month.
  • 4. He will have been brushing his teeth twice a day for the past few weeks before he goes to bed tonight.
  • 5. It will have been raining every day here in Seattle until next weekend.
  • 6. I will have been playing football on Saturdays until it stops raining.
  • 7. They will have been going to school by bus every day for the past two weeks when the holidays start.
  • 8. She will have been loving to read books since she was a child when she gets her glasses back.
  • 9. We will have been taking a holiday in August next summer until the good weather starts.
  • 10. He will have been liking to watch movies on Sundays for the past few months when he is older after he gets a job.

Hopefully, this breakdown of the different tenses helps you understand when each should be used. Remember to use them correctly and form sentences that make sense in context! Good luck!

If you enjoyed this article, you will definitely like our article on the different text types that should be taught in school!

Below is our quiz on the 12 different tenses! For more quizzes, plans and units of work, visit our TES store.

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