Update: 2009-05-24 04:57 PM +0800

TIL

TIL English Grammar

05. Verb Tense Tutorial

c05Tense-tut.htm

A compilation by U Kyaw Tun and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net ). Not for sale.

In the United States, periods and commas go inside quotation marks regardless of logic.
In the United Kingdom, Canada, and islands under the influence of British education, punctuation around quotation marks is more apt to follow logic. In American style, then, you would write: My favorite poem is Robert Frost's "Design." But in England you would write: My favorite poem is Robert Frost's "Design".

 

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Contents of this page

UKT: Since I feel that Tenses are the biggest problem facing a Myanmar ESL student, I am including this file compiled from: http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/verbtenseintro.html 081212

Verb Tense Overview
01. Present simple
02. Past simple
03. Future simple
04. Present Continuous
05. Past Continuous
06. Future Continuous
07. Present Perfect
08. Past Perfect
09. Future Perfect
10. Present Perfect Continuous
11. Past Perfect Continuous
12. Future Perfect Continuous
How to complete this tutorial

 

UKT notes
 

Contents of this page

Verb Tense Overview

UKT: Below is the original table except with the caption changes in row 2 such as from "Simple Present" to "Present Simple", etc.

  Present Past Future
Simple 01. Present Simple
I study English every day.
02. Past Simple
Two years ago, I studied English in England.
03. Future Simple
If you are having problems, I will help you study English.
I am going to study English next year.
Continuous 04. Present Continuous
I am studying English now.
05. Past Continuous
I was studying English when you called yesterday.
06. Future Continuous
I will be studying English when you arrive tonight.
I am going to be studying English when you arrive tonight.
Perfect 07. Present Perfect
I have studied English in several different countries.
08. Past Perfect
I had studied a little English before I moved to the U.S.
09. Future Perfect
I will have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.
I am going to have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.
Perfect Continuous 10. Present Perfect Continuous
I have been studying English for five years.
11. Past Perfect Continuous
I had been studying English for five years before I moved to the U.S.
12. Future Perfect Continuous
I will have been studying English for over two hours by the time you arrive.
I am going to have been studying English for over two hours by the time you arrive.

Contents of this page

How to complete this tutorial

 

The tutorial should be completed as follows:

1. Read this introduction page.

2. Prepare for the exercises by reading: Types of Verbs,  Active vs. Passive, and the verb tense descriptions that you want to practice.

3. Complete the exercises below. After each exercise, we have listed the tenses covered. Just click on the name of a tense to learn more about its use.

EXERCISES TOPICS COVERED
Verb Tense Exercise 1 Simple Present and Present Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 2 Simple Present and Present Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 3 Simple Past and Past Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 4 Simple Past and Past Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 5 Simple Past and Present Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 6 Simple Past and Present Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 7 Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 8 Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 9 Present Continuous and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 10 Present Continuous and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 11 Simple Past and Past Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 12 Simple Past, Present Perfect, and Past Perfect
Verb Tense Exercise 13 Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 14 Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 15 Present Continuous, Simple Past, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 16 Present and Past Tenses with Non-Continuous Verbs
Verb Tense Exercise 17 Present and Past Tense Review
Verb Tense Exercise 18 Will and Be Going to
Verb Tense Exercise 19 Will and Be Going to
Verb Tense Exercise 20 Will and Be Going to
Verb Tense Exercise 21 Simple Present and Simple Future
Verb Tense Exercise 22 Simple Present and Simple Future
Verb Tense Exercise 23 Simple Future and Future Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 24 Simple Present, Simple Future, Present Continuous, and Future Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 25 Future Perfect and Future Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 26 Future Perfect and Future Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 27 Future Perfect and Future Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 28 Future Perfect and Future Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Practice Test Cumulative Verb Tense Review
Verb Tense Final Test Cumulative Verb Tense Review

Contents of this page

Present Simple

FORM :
[VERB] + s/es in third person

You speak English.
Do you speak English?
You do not speak English.

Use 1. Repeated Actions

Use the Simple Present to express the idea that an action is repeated or usual. The action can be a habit, a hobby, a daily event, a scheduled event or something that often happens. It can also be something a person often forgets or usually does not do.

I play tennis.
She does not play tennis.
Does he play tennis?
The train leaves every morning at 8 AM.
The train does not leave at 9 AM.
When does the train usually leave?
She always forgets her purse.
He never forgets his wallet.
Every twelve months, the Earth circles the Sun.
Does the Sun circle the Earth?

Use 2.  Facts or Generalizations

The Simple Present can also indicate the speaker believes that a fact was true before, is true now, and will be true in the future. It is not important if the speaker is correct about the fact. It is also used to make generalizations about people or things.

Cats like milk.
Birds do not like milk.
Do pigs like milk?
California is in America.
California is not in the United Kingdom.
Windows are made of glass.
Windows are not made of wood.
New York is a small city. It is not important that this fact is untrue.

Use 3. Scheduled Events in the Near Future

Speakers occasionally use Simple Present to talk about scheduled events in the near future. This is most commonly done when talking about public transportation, but it can be used with other scheduled events as well.

The train leaves tonight at 6 PM.
The bus does not arrive at 11 AM, it arrives at 11 PM.
When do we board the plane?
The party starts at 8 o'clock.
When does class begin tomorrow?

Use 4. Now (Non-Continuous Verbs)

Speakers sometimes use the Simple Present to express the idea that an action is happening or is not happening now. This can only be done with Non-Continuous Verbs and certain Mixed Verbs.

I am here now.
She is not here now.
He needs help right now.
He does not need help now.
He has his passport in his hand.
Do you have your passport with you?

Adverb placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You only speak English.
Do you only speak English?

Active / Passive

Once a week, Tom cleans the car. Active
Once a week, the car is cleaned by Tom. Passive

Contents of this page

Past Simple

FORM

[VERB+ed] or irregular verbs

You called Debbie.
Did you call Debbie?
You did not call Debbie.

Use 1. Completed Action in the Past

Use the Simple Past to express the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, the speaker may not actually mention the specific time, but they do have one specific time in mind.

I saw a movie yesterday.
I didn't see a play yesterday.
Last year, I traveled to Japan.
Last year, I didn't travel to Korea.
Did you have dinner last night?
She washed her car.
He didn't wash his car.

Use 2. A Series of Completed Actions

We use the Simple Past to list a series of completed actions in the past. These actions happen 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on.

I finished work, walked to the beach, and found a nice place to swim.
He arrived from the airport at 8:00, checked into the hotel at 9:00, and met the others at 10:00.
Did you add flour, pour in the milk, and then add the eggs?

Use 3. Duration in Past

The Simple Past can be used with a duration which starts and stops in the past. A duration is a longer action often indicated by expressions such as: for two years, for five minutes, all day, all year, etc.

I lived in Brazil for two years.
Shauna studied Japanese for five years.
They sat at the beach all day.
They did not stay at the party the entire time.
We talked on the phone for thirty minutes.
A: How long did you wait for them?
B: We waited for one hour.

Use 4. Habits in the Past

The Simple Past can also be used to describe a habit which stopped in the past. It can have the same meaning as "used to." To make it clear that we are talking about a habit, we often add expressions such as: always, often, usually, never, when I was a child, when I was younger, etc.

I studied French when I was a child.
He played the violin.
He didn't play the piano.
Did you play a musical instrument when you were a kid?
She worked at the movie theater after school.
They never went to school, they always skipped class.

Use 5. Past Facts or Generalizations

The Simple Past can also be used to describe past facts or generalizations which are no longer true. As in USE 4 above, this use of the Simple Past is quite similar to the expression "used to."

She was shy as a child, but now she is very outgoing.
He didn't like tomatoes before.
Did you live in Texas when you were a kid?
People paid much more to make cell phone calls in the past.

Important When-Clauses Happen First

Clauses are groups of words which have meaning but are often not complete sentences. Some clauses begin with the word "when" such as "when I dropped my pen..." or "when class began..." These clauses are called when-clauses, and they are very important. The examples below contain when-clauses.

When I paid her one dollar, she answered my question.
She answered my question when I paid her one dollar.

When-clauses are important because they always happen first when both clauses are in the Simple Past. Both of the examples above mean the same thing: first, I paid her one dollar, and then, she answered my question. It is not important whether "when I paid her one dollar" is at the beginning of the sentence or at the end of the sentence. However, the example below has a different meaning. First, she answered my question, and then, I paid her one dollar.

I paid her one dollar when she answered my question.

Adverb Placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You just called Debbie.
Did you just call Debbie?

Active / Passive

Tom repaired the car. Active
The car was repaired by Tom. Passive

Contents of this page

Future Simple

Simple Future has two different forms in English: "will" and "be going to." Although the two forms can sometimes be used interchangeably, they often express two very different meanings. These different meanings might seem too abstract at first, but with time and practice, the differences will become clear. Both "will" and "be going to" refer to a specific time in the future.

FORM Will

[will + verb]

You will help him later.
Will you help him later?
You will not help him later.

FORM Be Going To

[am/is/are + going to + verb]

You are going to meet Jane tonight.
Are you going to meet Jane tonight?
You are not going to meet Jane tonight.

Use 1. "Will" to Express a Voluntary Action

"Will" often suggests that a speaker will do something voluntarily. A voluntary action is one the speaker offers to do for someone else. Often, we use "will" to respond to someone else's complaint or request for help. We also use "will" when we request that someone help us or volunteer to do something for us. Similarly, we use "will not" or "won't" when we refuse to voluntarily do something.

I will send you the information when I get it.
I will translate the email, so Mr. Smith can read it.
Will you help me move this heavy table?
Will you make dinner?
I will not do your homework for you.
I won't do all the housework myself!
A: I'm really hungry.
   B: I'll make some sandwiches.
A: I'm so tired. I'm about to fall asleep.
   B: I'll get you some coffee.
A: The phone is ringing.
   B: I'll get it.

Use 2. "Will" to Express a Promise

"Will" is usually used in promises.

I will call you when I arrive.
If I am elected President of the United States, I will make sure everyone has access to inexpensive health insurance.
I promise I will not tell him about the surprise party.
Don't worry, I'll be careful.
I won't tell anyone your secret.

Use 3. "Be going to" to Express a Plan

"Be going to" expresses that something is a plan. It expresses the idea that a person intends to do something in the future. It does not matter whether the plan is realistic or not.

He is going to spend his vacation in Hawaii.
She is not going to spend her vacation in Hawaii.
A: When are we going to meet each other tonight?
   B: We are going to meet at 6 PM.
I'm going to be an actor when I grow up.
Michelle is going to begin medical school next year.
They are going to drive all the way to Alaska.
Who are you going to invite to the party?
A: Who is going to make John's birthday cake?
   B: Sue is going to make John's birthday cake.

Use 4. "Will" or "Be Going to" to Express a Prediction

Both "will" and "be going to" can express the idea of a general prediction about the future. Predictions are guesses about what might happen in the future. In "prediction" sentences, the subject usually has little control over the future and therefore USES 1-3 do not apply. In the following examples, there is no difference in meaning.

The year 2222 will be a very interesting year.
The year 2222 is going to be a very interesting year.

John Smith will be the next President.
John Smith is going to be the next President.

The movie "Zenith" will win several Academy Awards.
The movie "Zenith" is going to win several Academy Awards.

Important

In the Simple Future, it is not always clear which USE the speaker has in mind. Often, there is more than one way to interpret a sentence's meaning.

No Future in Time Clauses

Like all future forms, the Simple Future cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions such as: when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc. Instead of Simple Future, Simple Present is used.

When you will arrive tonight, we will go out for dinner. Not Correct
When you arrive tonight, we will go out for dinner. Correct

Adverb Placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You will never help him.
Will you ever help him?

You are never going to meet Jane.
Are you ever going to meet Jane?

Active / Passive

John will finish the work by 5:00 PM. Active
The work will be finished by 5:00 PM. Passive

Sally is going to make a beautiful dinner tonight. Active
A beautiful dinner is going to be made by Sally tonight. Passive

Contents of this page

Present Continuous

FORM

[am/is/are + present participle]

You are watching TV.
Are you watching TV?
You are not watching TV.

Use 1. Now

Use the Present Continuous with Normal Verbs to express the idea that something is happening now, at this very moment. It can also be used to show that something is not happening now.

You are learning English now.
You are not swimming now.
Are you sleeping?
I am sitting.
I am not standing.
Is he sitting or standing?
They are reading their books.
They are not watching television.
What are you doing?
Why aren't you doing your homework?

Use 2. Longer Actions in Progress Now

In English, "now" can mean: this second, today, this month, this year, this century, and so on. Sometimes, we use the Present Continuous to say that we are in the process of doing a longer action which is in progress; however, we might not be doing it at this exact second.

I am studying to become a doctor.
I am not studying to become a dentist.
I am reading the book Tom Sawyer.
I am not reading any books right now.
Are you working on any special projects at work?
Aren't you teaching at the university now?

Use 3. Near Future

Sometimes, speakers use the Present Continuous to indicate that something will or will not happen in the near future.

I am meeting some friends after work.
I am not going to the party tonight.
Is he visiting his parents next weekend?
Isn't he coming with us tonight?

Use 4. Repetition and Irritation with "Always"

The Present Continuous with words such as "always" or "constantly" expresses the idea that something irritating or shocking often happens. Notice that the meaning is like Simple Present, but with negative emotion. Remember to put the words "always" or "constantly" between "be" and "verb+ing."

She is always coming to class late.
He is constantly talking. I wish he would shut up.
I don't like them because they are always complaining.

Remember Non-Continuous Verbs/ Mixed Verbs

It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Present Continuous with these verbs, you must use Simple Present.

She is loving this chocolate ice cream. Not Correct
She loves this chocolate ice cream. Correct

Adverb Placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You are still watching TV.
Are you still watching TV?

Active / Passive

Right now, Tom is writing the letter. Active
Right now, the letter is being written by Tom. Passive

Contents of this page

Past Continuous

FORM

[was/were + present participle]

You were studying when she called.
Were you studying when she called?
You were not studying when she called.

Use 1. Interrupted Action in the Past

Use the Past Continuous to indicate that a longer action in the past was interrupted. The interruption is usually a shorter action in the Simple Past. Remember this can be a real interruption or just an interruption in time.

I was watching TV when she called.
When the phone rang, she was writing a letter.
While we were having the picnic, it started to rain.
What were you doing when the earthquake started?
I was listening to my iPod, so I didn't hear the fire alarm.
You were not listening to me when I told you to turn the oven off.
While John was sleeping last night, someone stole his car.
Sammy was waiting for us when we got off the plane.
While I was writing the email, the computer suddenly went off.
A: What were you doing when you broke your leg?
   B: I was snowboarding.

Use 2. Specific Time as an Interruption

In USE 1, described above, the Past Continuous is interrupted by a shorter action in the Simple Past. However, you can also use a specific time as an interruption.

Last night at 6 PM, I was eating dinner.
At midnight, we were still driving through the desert.
Yesterday at this time, I was sitting at my desk at work.

Important

In the Simple Past, a specific time is used to show when an action began or finished. In the Past Continuous, a specific time only interrupts the action.

Last night at 6 PM, I ate dinner.
   I started eating at 6 PM.
Last night at 6 PM, I was eating dinner.
   I started earlier; and at 6 PM, I was in the process of eating dinner.

Use 3 Parallel Actions

When you use the Past Continuous with two actions in the same sentence, it expresses the idea that both actions were happening at the same time. The actions are parallel.

I was studying while he was making dinner.
While Ellen was reading, Tim was watching television.
Were you listening while he was talking?
I wasn't paying attention while I was writing the letter, so I made several mistakes.
What were you doing while you were waiting?
Thomas wasn't working, and I wasn't working either.
They were eating dinner, discussing their plans, and having a good time.

Use 4. Atmosphere

In English, we often use a series of parallel actions to describe the atmosphere at a particular time in the past.

When I walked into the office, several people were busily typing, some were talking on the phones, the boss was yelling directions, and customers were waiting to be helped. One customer was yelling at a secretary and waving his hands. Others were complaining to each other about the bad service.

Use 5. Repetition and Irritation with "Always"

The Past Continuous with words such as "always" or "constantly" expresses the idea that something irritating or shocking often happened in the past. The concept is very similar to the expression "used to" but with negative emotion. Remember to put the words "always" or "constantly" between "be" and "verb+ing."

She was always coming to class late.
He was constantly talking. He annoyed everyone.
I didn't like them because they were always complaining.

While vs. When

Clauses are groups of words which have meaning, but are often not complete sentences. Some clauses begin with the word "when" such as "when she called" or "when it bit me." Other clauses begin with "while" such as "while she was sleeping" and "while he was surfing." When you talk about things in the past, "when" is most often followed by the verb tense Simple Past, whereas "while" is usually followed by Past Continuous. "While" expresses the idea of "during that time." Study the examples below. They have similar meanings, but they emphasize different parts of the sentence.

I was studying when she called.
  While I was studying, she called.

Remember Non-Continuous Verbs / Mixed Verbs

It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Past Continuous with these verbs, you must use Simple Past.

Jane was being at my house when you arrived. Not Correct
Jane was at my house when you arrived. Correct

Adverb Placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You were just studying when she called.
Were you just studying when she called?

Active / Passive

The salesman was helping the customer when the thief came into the store. Active
The customer was being helped by the salesman when the thief came into the store. Passive

Contents of this page

Future Continuous

Future Continuous has two different forms: "will be doing " and "be going to be doing." Unlike Simple Future forms, Future Continuous forms are usually interchangeable.

FORM Future Continuous with "Will"

[will be + present participle]

You will be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight.
Will you be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight?
You will not be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight.

FORM Future Continuous with "Be Going To "

[am/is/are + going to be + present participle]

You are going to be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight.
Are you going to be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight?
You are not going to be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight.

REMEMBER: It is possible to use either "will" or "be going to" to create the Future Continuous with little difference in meaning.

Use 1. Interrupted Action in the Future

Use the Future Continuous to indicate that a longer action in the future will be interrupted by a shorter action in the future. Remember this can be a real interruption or just an interruption in time.

I will be watching TV when she arrives tonight.
I will be waiting for you when your bus arrives.
I am going to be staying at the Madison Hotel, if anything happens and you need to contact me.
He will be studying at the library tonight, so he will not see Jennifer when she arrives.

Notice in the examples above that the interruptions (marked in italics) are in Simple Present rather than Simple Future. This is because the interruptions are in time clauses, and you cannot use future tenses in time clauses.

Use 2. Specific Time as an Interruption in the Future

In USE 1, described above, the Future Continuous is interrupted by a short action in the future. In addition to using short actions as interruptions, you can also use a specific time as an interruption.

Tonight at 6 PM, I am going to be eating dinner.
   I will be in the process of eating dinner.
At midnight tonight, we will still be driving through the desert.
   We will be in the process of driving through the desert.

Remember

In the Simple Future, a specific time is used to show the time an action will begin or end. In the Future Continuous, a specific time interrupts the action.

Tonight at 6 PM, I am going to eat dinner.
   I am going to start eating at 6 PM.
Tonight at 6 PM, I am going to be eating dinner.
   I am going to start earlier and I will be in the process of eating dinner at 6 PM.

Use 3. Parallel Actions in the Future

When you use the Future Continuous with two actions in the same sentence, it expresses the idea that both actions will be happening at the same time. The actions are parallel.

I am going to be studying and he is going to be making dinner.
Tonight, they will be eating dinner, discussing their plans, and having a good time.
While Ellen is reading, Tim will be watching television.
Notice "is reading" because of the time clause containing "while." (See Explanation Below)

Use 4. Atmosphere in the Future

In English, we often use a series of Parallel Actions to describe atmosphere at a specific point in the future.

When I arrive at the party, everybody is going to be celebrating. Some will be dancing. Others are going to be talking. A few people will be eating pizza, and several people are going to be drinking beer. They always do the same thing.

Remember No Future in Time Clauses

Like all future tenses, the Future Continuous cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions such as: when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc. Instead of Future Continuous, Present Continuous is used.

While I am going to be finishing my homework, she is going to make dinner. Not Correct
While I am finishing my homework, she is going to make dinner. Correct

And Remember Non-Continuous Verbs / Mixed Verbs

It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Future Continuous with these verbs, you must use Simple Future.

Jane will be being at my house when you arrive. Not Correct
Jane will be at my house when you arrive. Correct

Adverb Placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You will still be waiting for her when her plane arrives.
Will you still be waiting for her when her plane arrives?

You are still going to be waiting for her when her plane arrives.
Are you still going to be waiting for her when her plane arrives?

Active / Passive

At 8:00 PM tonight, John will be washing the dishes. Active
At 8:00 PM tonight, the dishes will be being washed by John. Passive

At 8:00 PM tonight, John is going to be washing the dishes. Active
At 8:00 PM tonight, the dishes are going to be being washed by John. Passive

Contents of this page

Present Perfect

FORM

[has/have + past participle]

You have seen that movie many times.
Have you seen that movie many times?
You have not seen that movie many times.

Use 1. Unspecified Time Before Now

We use the Present Perfect to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact time is not important. You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc. We CAN use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc.

I have seen that movie twenty times.
I think I have met him once before.
There have been many earthquakes in California.
People have traveled to the Moon.
People have not traveled to Mars.
Have you read the book yet?
Nobody has ever climbed that mountain.
A: Has there ever been a war in the United States?
   B: Yes, there has been a war in the United States.

How Do You Actually Use the Present Perfect?

The concept of "unspecified time" can be very confusing to English learners. It is best to associate Present Perfect with the following topics:

TOPIC 1 Experience

You can use the Present Perfect to describe your experience. It is like saying, "I have the experience of..." You can also use this tense to say that you have never had a certain experience. The Present Perfect is NOT used to describe a specific event.

I have been to France.
   This sentence means that you have had the experience of being in France. Maybe you have been there once, or several times.
I have been to France three times.
   You can add the number of times at the end of the sentence.
I have never been to France.
   This sentence means that you have not had the experience of going to France.
I think I have seen that movie before.
He has never traveled by train.
Joan has studied two foreign languages.
A: Have you ever met him?
   B: No, I have not met him.

TOPIC 2 Change Over Time

We often use the Present Perfect to talk about change that has happened over a period of time.

You have grown since the last time I saw you.
The government has become more interested in arts education.
Japanese has become one of the most popular courses at the university since the Asian studies program was established.
My English has really improved since I moved to Australia.

TOPIC 3 Accomplishments

We often use the Present Perfect to list the accomplishments of individuals and humanity. You cannot mention a specific time.

Man has walked on the Moon.
Our son has learned how to read.
Doctors have cured many deadly diseases.
Scientists have split the atom.

TOPIC 4 An Uncompleted Action You Are Expecting

We often use the Present Perfect to say that an action which we expected has not happened. Using the Present Perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action to happen.

James has not finished his homework yet.
Susan hasn't mastered Japanese, but she can communicate.
Bill has still not arrived.
The rain hasn't stopped.

TOPIC 5 Multiple Actions at Different Times

We also use the Present Perfect to talk about several different actions which have occurred in the past at different times. Present Perfect suggests the process is not complete and more actions are possible.

The army has attacked that city five times.
I have had four quizzes and five tests so far this semester.
We have had many major problems while working on this project.
She has talked to several specialists about her problem, but nobody knows why she is sick.

Time Expressions with Present Perfect

When we use the Present Perfect it means that something has happened at some point in our lives before now. Remember, the exact time the action happened is not important.

Sometimes, we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience. We can do this with expressions such as: in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now, etc.

Have you been to Mexico in the last year?
I have seen that movie six times in the last month.
They have had three tests in the last week.
She graduated from university less than three years ago. She has worked for three different companies so far.
My car has broken down three times this week.

NOTICE

"Last year" and "in the last year" are very different in meaning. "Last year" means the year before now, and it is considered a specific time which requires Simple Past. "In the last year" means from 365 days ago until now. It is not considered a specific time, so it requires Present Perfect.

I went to Mexico last year.
   I went to Mexico in the calendar year before this one.
I have been to Mexico in the last year.
   I have been to Mexico at least once at some point between 365 days ago and now.

Use 2. Duration From the Past Until Now (Non-Continuous Verbs)

With Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Present Perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect.

I have had a cold for two weeks.
She has been in England for six months.
Mary has loved chocolate since she was a little girl.

Although the above use of Present Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words "live," "work," "teach," and "study" are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs.

ADVERB PLACEMENT

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You have only seen that movie one time.
Have you only seen that movie one time?

Active / Passive

Many tourists have visited that castle. Active
That castle has been visited by many tourists. Passive

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Past Perfect

FORM

[had + past participle]

You had studied English before you moved to New York.
Had you studied English before you moved to New York?
You had not studied English before you moved to New York.

Use 1. Completed Action Before Something in the Past

The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

I had never seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Kauai.
I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.
Tony knew Istanbul so well because he had visited the city several times.
Had Susan ever studied Thai before she moved to Thailand?
She only understood the movie because she had read the book.
Kristine had never been to an opera before last night.
We were not able to get a hotel room because we had not booked in advance.
A: Had you ever visited the U.S. before your trip in 2006?
   B: Yes, I had been to the U.S. once before.

Use 2. Duration Before Something in the Past (Non-Continuous Verbs)

With Non-Continuous Verbs and some non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Past Perfect to show that something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past.

We had had that car for ten years before it broke down.
By the time Alex finished his studies, he had been in London for over eight years.
They felt bad about selling the house because they had owned it for more than forty years.

Although the above use of Past Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words "live," "work," "teach," and "study" are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs.

Important Specific Times with the Past Perfect

Unlike with the Present Perfect, it is possible to use specific time words or phrases with the Past Perfect. Although this is possible, it is usually not necessary.

She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996.

Moreover

If the Past Perfect action did occur at a specific time, the Simple Past can be used instead of the Past Perfect when "before" or "after" is used in the sentence. The words "before" and "after" actually tell you what happens first, so the Past Perfect is optional. For this reason, both sentences below are correct.

She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996.
She visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996.

However

If the Past Perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, Past Perfect is not optional. Compare the examples below. Here Past Perfect is referring to a lack of experience rather than an action at a specific time. For this reason, Simple Past cannot be used.

She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska. Not Correct
She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska. Correct

Adverb Placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You had previously studied English before you moved to New York.
Had you previously studied English before you moved to New York?

Active / Passive

George had repaired many cars before he received his mechanic's license. Active
Many cars had been repaired by George before he received his mechanic's license. Passive

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Future Perfect

Future Perfect has two different forms: "will have done" and "be going to have done." Unlike Simple Future forms, Future Perfect forms are usually interchangeable.

FORM Future Perfect with "Will"

[will have + past participle]
You will have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U.S.
Will you have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U.S.?
You will not have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U.S.

FORM Future Perfect with "Be Going To"

[am/is/are + going to have + past participle]
You are going to have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U.S.
Are you going to have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U.S.?
You are not going to have perfected your English by the time you come back from the U.S.

NOTE: It is possible to use either "will" or "be going to" to create the Future Perfect with little or no difference in meaning.

Use 1. Completed Action Before Something in the Future

The Future Perfect expresses the idea that something will occur before another action in the future. It can also show that something will happen before a specific time in the future.

By next November, I will have received my promotion.
By the time he gets home, she is going to have cleaned the entire house.
I am not going to have finished this test by 3 o'clock.
Will she have learned enough Chinese to communicate before she moves to Beijing?
Sam is probably going to have completed the proposal by the time he leaves this afternoon.
By the time I finish this course, I will have taken ten tests.
How many countries are you going to have visited by the time you turn 50?

Notice in the examples above that the reference points (marked in italics) are in Simple Present rather than Simple Future. This is because the interruptions are in time clauses, and you cannot use future tenses in time clauses.

Use 2. Duration Before Something in the Future (Non-Continuous Verbs)

With Non-Continuous Verbs and some non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Future Perfect 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.
By Monday, Susan is going to have had my book for a week.

Although the above use of Future Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words "live," "work," "teach," and "study" are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs.

Remember No Future in Time Clauses

Like all future forms, the Future Perfect cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions such as: when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc. Instead of Future Perfect, Present Perfect is used.

I am going to see a movie when I will have finished my homework. Not Correct
I am going to see a movie when I have finished my homework. Correct

Adverb Placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You will only have learned a few words.
Will you only have learned a few words?

You are only going to have learned a few words.
Are you only going to have learned a few words?

Active / Passive

They will have completed the project before the deadline. Active
The project will have been completed before the deadline. Passive

They are going to have completed the project before the deadline. Active
The project is going to have been completed before the deadline. Passive

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Present Perfect Continuous

FORM

[has/have + been + present participle]
You have been waiting here for two hours.
Have you been waiting here for two hours?
You have not been waiting here for two hours.

Use 1. Duration from the Past Until Now

We use the Present Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect Continuous.

They have been talking for the last hour.
She has been working at that company for three years.
What have you been doing for the last 30 minutes?
James has been teaching at the university since June.
We have been waiting here for over two hours!
Why has Nancy not been taking her medicine for the last three days?

Use 2. Recently, Lately

You can also use the Present Perfect Continuous WITHOUT a duration such as "for two weeks." Without the duration, the tense has a more general meaning of "lately." We often use the words "lately" or "recently" to emphasize this meaning.

Recently, I have been feeling really tired.
She has been watching too much television lately.
Have you been exercising lately?
Mary has been feeling a little depressed.
Lisa has not been practicing her English.
What have you been doing?

Important

Remember that the Present Perfect Continuous has the meaning of "lately" or "recently." If you use the Present Perfect Continuous in a question such as "Have you been feeling alright?", it can suggest that the person looks sick or unhealthy. A question such as "Have you been smoking?" can suggest that you smell the smoke on the person. Using this tense in a question suggests you can see, smell, hear or feel the results of the action. It is possible to insult someone by using this tense incorrectly.

Remember Non-Continuous Verbs/ Mixed Verbs

It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Present Perfect Continuous with these verbs, you must use Present Perfect.

Sam has been having his car for two years. Not Correct
Sam has had his car for two years. Correct

Adverb Placement

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You have only been waiting here for one hour.
Have you only been waiting here for one hour?

Active / Passive

Recently, John has been doing the work. Active
Recently, the work has been being done by John. Passive

NOTE: Present Perfect Continuous is less commonly used in its passive form.

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Past Perfect Continuous

FORM

[had been + present participle]
You had been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.
Had you been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived?
You had not been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.

Use 1. Duration Before Something in the Past

We use the Past Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. "For five minutes" and "for two weeks" are both durations which can be used with the Past Perfect Continuous. Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now, it stops before something else in the past.

They had been talking for over an hour before Tony arrived.
She had been working at that company for three years when it went out of business.
How long had you been waiting to get on the bus?
Mike wanted to sit down because he had been standing all day at work.
James had been teaching at the university for more than a year before he left for Asia.
A: How long had you been studying Turkish before you moved to Ankara?
   B: I had not been studying Turkish very long.

Use 2. Cause of Something in the Past

Using the Past Perfect Continuous before another action in the past is a good way to show cause and effect.

Jason was tired because he had been jogging.
Sam gained weight because he had been overeating.
Betty failed the final test because she had not been attending class.

Past Continuous vs. Past Perfect Continuous

If you do not include a duration such as "for five minutes," "for two weeks" or "since Friday," many English speakers choose to use the Past Continuous rather than the Past Perfect Continuous. Be careful because this can change the meaning of the sentence. Past Continuous emphasizes interrupted actions, whereas Past Perfect Continuous emphasizes a duration of time before something in the past. Study the examples below to understand the difference.

He was tired because he was exercising so hard.
   This sentence emphasizes that he was tired because he was exercising at that exact moment.

He was tired because he had been exercising so hard.
   This sentence emphasizes that he was tired because he had been exercising over a period of time. It is possible that
   he was still exercising at that    moment OR that he had just finished.

REMEMBER Non-Continuous Verbs / Mixed Verbs

It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Past Perfect Continuous with these verbs, you must use Past Perfect.

The motorcycle had been belonging to George for years before Tina bought it. Not Correct
The motorcycle had belonged to George for years before Tina bought it. Correct

ADVERB PLACEMENT

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

You had only been waiting there for a few minutes when she arrived.
Had you only been waiting there for a few minutes when she arrived?

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

Chef Jones had been preparing the restaurant's fantastic dinners for two years before he moved to Paris. Active
The restaurant's fantastic dinners had been being prepared by Chef Jones for two years before he moved to Paris. Passive

NOTE: Passive forms of the Past Perfect Continuous are not common.

 

 

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UKT notes

 

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