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What is Tense with examples?

Definition: Tense is an indicator which tells us about time of an action and is an essential part of sentence learning [The word tense comes from the Latin tempus, "time"].

The concept of tense in English is a method that we use to refer to times. As we know that time may be divided in three brackets: past – before now, present – now, or any time that includes now and future – after now. Read the following sentences:

  1. I write this letter to you.
  2. I wrote the letter in his very presence.
  3. I shall write another letter tomorrow.
  4. In sentence 1, the Verb write refer to present time
    In sentence 2, the Verb wrote refers to past time
    In sentence 3, the Verb shall write refers to future time

Thus a Verb that refers to present time is said to be in the Present Tense; as I write; a Verb that refers to past time is said to be in the Past Tense; as I wrote and likewise a Verb that refers to future time is said to be in the Future Tense as, I shall write.
Tenses have certain rules, according to which a sentence is made. We will learn these rules next.

There are three main tenses:

  1. Present Tense
  2. Past Tense
  3. Future Tense

Each of Present, Past and Future Tense is further divided in four types depending upon nature of action as below:

  1. Indefinite (Simple)
  2. Continuous (Progressive)
  3. Perfect
  4. Perfect Continuous (Progressive)

In this way, English tenses are of 12 types. Learn all these tenses here with examples.

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List of all English Tenses

Below is list of all English tenses including the structure and explanation of usage of each tense:

Present Tense   →
  1. Present Simple (Indefinite) Tense
  2. Present Continuous Tense
  3. Present Perfect Tense
  4. Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Past Tense   →
  1. Past Simple (Indefinite) Tense
  2. Past Continuous Tense
  3. Past Perfect Tense
  4. Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Future Tense   →
  1. Future Indefinite (Simple) Tense
  2. Future Continuous Tense
  3. Future Perfect Tense
  4. Future Perfect Continuous Tense

Relevant Topics  →
  1. How Many Tenses in English
  2. The Sequence of Tenses

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