Verb Tenses

Verbs come in three tenses: past, present, and future. The past is used to describe things that have already happened (e.g., earlier in the day, yesterday, last week, three years ago). The present tense is used to describe things that are happening right now, or things that are continuous. The future tense describes things that have yet to happen (e.g., later, tomorrow, next week, next year, three years from now).

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The following table illustrates the proper use of verb tenses:

Simple PresentSimple PastSimple Future
I read nearly every day.Last night, I read an entire novel.I will read as much as I can this year.
Present ContinuousPast ContinuousFuture Continuous
I am reading Shakespeare at the moment.I was reading Edgar Allan Poe last night.I will be reading Nathaniel Hawthorne soon.
Present PerfectPast PerfectFuture Perfect
I have read so many books I can’t keep count.I had read at least 100 books by the time I was twelve.I will have read at least 500 books by the end of the year.
Present Perfect ContinuousPast Perfect ContinuousFuture Perfect Continuous
I have been reading since I was four years old.I had been reading for at least a year before my sister learned to read.I will have been reading for at least two hours before dinner tonight.