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English tenses

A visual aid for non-native learners of English. Past, present, future - and everything in between.


on 17 June 2014

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Transcript of English tenses

Right here, right now.
Present Progressive
To Be
+ Present Participle:

I am speaking English.
As long as your sentence has
ties to the present moment, you can use the present progressive tense.
I'm having soup for dinner tonight.

I'm currently studying at the university.
Regular Present Tense

I speak Spanish.

Use for actions that are presently true, but not happening right this second. If they ARE happening now, use present progressive.
Examples in other languages:
Je suis en train de parler en anglais.
Estoy hablando en inglés.
Je parle espagnol

(Mais maintenant je suis en train de parler français!)

Yo hablo francés.

(¡Pero ahorita estoy hablando español!)
Preterite (Simple Past)
Used when you make a reference to an event in the past at a
November 12, 2011
December 7th, 1941
Last weekend, I went to a concert.
Ayer fui al mercado.
Hier je suis allée chez Paul.
Last week
Present Perfect:
Refers to an
time, before now.

I have read the book "Oliver Twist."
No one knows when I read it. Maybe 5 minutes ago, maybe 10 years ago. It's unspecified.
Another example of present perfect - I have seen Django.
Simple past: I saw Django last week.
On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese
Pearl Harbor.
(Simple Past)
December 8th, the entire world
had heard
about the attack.
The action between 2 points
in the past
is "Past perfect."
Auxiliary in


Yesterday I started working at 3pm, and by dinner time
I had finished
my homework.
Ya lo había hecho cuando
me dijiste "no lo hagas."

Je l'avais déjà fait lorsque
tu m'as dit "ne le fais pas."
May, 2026
Close future:
Either: I will eat
Or: I am going to eat*
* Using the present perfect with the verb "go" is less formal.
Je mangerai.
Je vais manger.

Voy a comer.
Future Perfect:
By a certain time, an action will be complete.
"By May of 2019, I will have finished my studies."*
*Maybe you finished BEFORE May, say, in April. Maybe even tomorrow. But the sentence is still true!
Without a specific time mentioned, you can use "[to be] going to."
Example: "One day, I'm going to learn Chinese."
We have no idea when that will be!
Notice how the clouds are not on the timeline, they don't have specific places in time.
Ok, but when?
A long time ago? Yesterday?
Present Perfect
Auxiliary "to have" conjugated in the present
past participle

I have read that book.
You have been to Spain.
She has seen the movie.
Specific time, this could be on the timeline! Definitely simple past (preterite).
To clarify the present perfect, we can use the simple past.
In between those two moments....
Yo he viajado mucho.
- J'ai fait mes devoirs.
Full transcript