The 12 Tenses

You will eventually understand the meaning of the tenses by listening and reading a lot. 

1 Present Simple


I run,

You run,

He, She, It runs,

We run,

You run,

They run,

2 Past Simple


I ran,

You ran,

He/She/It ran,

We ran, 

You ran,

They ran,

3 Future Simple


I will run, 

You will run,

He/She/It will run,

We will run,

You will run,

They will run,


4 Present Perfect


I have run,

You have run, 

He/she/it has run,

We have run,

You have run,

They have run,

5 Past Perfect


I had run, 

You had run, 

He/She/It had run,

We had run,

You had run,

They had run,

6 Future Perfect


I will have run,

You will have run,

He/She/It will have run, 

We will have run,

You will have run,

They will have run,

7 Present Continuous


I am running,

You are running, 

He/She/It is running,

We are running,

You are running,

They are running,

8 Past Continuous


I was running,

You were running,

He/She/It was running,

We were running,

You were running,

They were running,

9 Future Continuous


I will be running,

You will be running,

He/She/It will be running,

We will be running,

You will be running,

They will be running,

10 Present Perfect Continuous


I have been running,

You have been running,

He/She/It has been running,

We have been running,

You have been running,

They have been running, 

11 Past Perfect Continuous


I had been running,

You had been running,

He/She/It had been running,

We had been running,

You had been running,

They had been running,

12 Future Perfect Continuous


I will have been running,

You will have been running,

He/She/It will have been running,

We will have been running,

You will have been running,

They will have been running,

English has 12 tenses.

The structures are; simple, continuous, perfect simple and perfect continuous.

Using just the verb to form tenses

We can form just TWO tenses with the verb only. That is the present and past. I run (present), I ran (past)

All other tenses use an auxiliary verb

All other tenses are formed using the auxiliary or helping verb in front of the main verb (be, will, have).

I have been running, I had been running, I will have been running

Simple Tenses

Simple tenses refer to a single action but they do not state whether the action is ongoing or completed.

The three simple tenses are;

Present Simple: We run,

Past Simple: We ran, 

Future Simple: We will run,



man running on beach

Continuous (Progressive) Tenses

The continuous or progressive tenses are easy to understand as they describe unfinished events or situations, present, past or future.

Present progressive: I am running,

Past progressive: I was running,

Future progressive: I will be running,


Perfect Tenses

Perfect tenses are formed by the auxiliary verb to have and the past participle of the verb in use. The word perfect means “made complete” so this tense is about completed action. So remember to look out for the verb to have and its different forms, have, had, has and will.

Present Perfect: You have run,  He/she/it has run(Completed action in the present)

Past Perfect: You had run,
(Completed action in the past)

Future Perfect: You will have run,
(Completed action in relation to the future).

Continuous (Progressive) Perfect Tenses

This tense expresses a period of time or duration that an action has been taking place.It is commonly used to show an action which started in the past and has continued up to the present moment. 

The continuous perfect tenses are made up of three parts; The first part can change depending if the tense is present, past or future but the other two (been + present participle) stay the same.

(present) has/have + been + present participle

(past) had + been + present participle

(future) will have + been + present participle

Present perfect continuous: I have been running since early morning on the beach

Past perfect continuous: I had been running for two hours before I stopped for a rest.

Future perfect continuous: I will have been running for fifteen minutes by the time I arrive.

the runner
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