All Tenses summary


Types of Verbs

Types of Verbs


Before you begin the verb tense lessons, it is extremely important to understand that NOT all English verbs are the same. English verbs are divided into three groups: Normal Verbs, Non-Continuous Verbs, and Mixed Verbs.

Group I Normal Verbs

Most verbs are "Normal Verbs." These verbs are usually physical actions which you can see somebody doing. These verbs can be used in all tenses.

Normal Verbs

to run, to walk, to eat, to fly, to go, to say, to touch, etc.
Examples:
  • I eat dinner every day.
  • I am eating dinner now.

Group II Non-Continuous Verbs

The second group, called "Non-Continuous Verbs," is smaller. These verbs are usually things you cannot see somebody doing. These verbs are rarely used in continuous tenses. They include:

Abstract Verbs

to be, to want, to cost, to seem, to need, to care, to contain, to owe, to exist...

Possession Verbs

to possess, to own, to belong...

Emotion Verbs

to like, to love, to hate, to dislike, to fear, to envy, to mind...
Examples:
  • He is needing help now. Not Correct
  • He needs help now. Correct
  • He is wanting a drink now. Not Correct
  • He wants a drink now. Correct

Group III Mixed Verbs

The third group, called "Mixed Verbs," is the smallest group. These verbs have more than one meaning. In a way, each meaning is a unique verb. Some meanings behave like "Non-Continuous Verbs," while other meanings behave like "Normal Verbs."

Mixed Verbs

to appear, to feel, to have, to hear, to look, to see, to weigh...

List of Mixed Verbs with Examples and Definitions:

to appear:



  • Donna appears confused. Non-Continuous Verb
    Donna seems confused.
  • My favorite singer is appearing at the jazz club tonight. Normal Verb
    My favorite singer is giving a performance at the jazz club tonight.
to have:



  • I have a dollar now. Non-Continuous Verb
    I possess a dollar.
  • I am having fun now. Normal Verb
    I am experiencing fun now.
to hear:



  • She hears the music. Non-Continuous Verb
    She hears the music with her ears.
  • She is hearing voices. Normal Verb
    She hears something others cannot hear. She is hearing voices in her mind.
to look:



  • Nancy looks tired. Non-Continuous Verb
    She seems tired.
  • Farah is looking at the pictures. Normal Verb
    She is looking with her eyes.
to miss:



  • John misses Sally. Non-Continuous Verb
    He is sad because she is not there.
  • Debbie is missing her favorite TV program. Normal Verb
    She is not there to see her favorite program.
to see:



  • I see her. Non-Continuous Verb
    I see her with my eyes.
  • I am seeing the doctor. Normal Verb
    I am visiting or consulting with a doctor. (Also used with dentist and lawyer.)
  • I am seeing her. Normal Verb
    I am having a relationship with her.
  • He is seeing ghosts at night. Normal Verb
    He sees something others cannot see. For example ghosts, aura, a vision of the future, etc.
to smell:



  • The coffee smells good. Non-Continuous Verb
    The coffee has a good smell.
  • I am smelling the flowers. Normal Verb
    I am sniffing the flowers to see what their smell is like.
to taste:



  • The coffee tastes good. Non-Continuous Verb
    The coffee has a good taste.
  • I am tasting the cake. Normal Verb
    I am trying the cake to see what it tastes like.
to think:



  • He thinks the test is easy. Non-Continuous Verb
    He considers the test to be easy.
  • She is thinking about the question. Normal Verb
    She is pondering the question, going over it in her mind.
to weigh:



  • The table weighs a lot. Non-Continuous Verb
    The table is heavy.
  • She is weighing herself. Normal Verb
    She is determining her weight.

Some Verbs Can Be Especially Confusing:

to be:



  • Joe is American. Non-Continuous Verb
    Joe is an American citizen.
  • Joe is being very American. Normal Verb
    Joe is behaving like a stereotypical American.
  • Joe is being very rude. Normal Verb
    Joe is behaving very rudely. Usually he is not rude.
  • Joe is being very formal. Normal Verb
    Joe is behaving very formally. Usually he is not formal.
NOTICE: Only rarely is "to be" used in a continuous form. This is most commonly done when a person is temporarily behaving badly or stereotypically. It can also be used when someone's behavior is noticeably different.
to feel:



  • The massage feels great. Non-Continuous Verb
    The massage has a pleasing feeling.
  • I don't feel well today. Sometimes used as Non-Continuous Verb
    I am a little sick.
    I am not feeling well today. Sometimes used as Normal Verb
    I am a little sick.
NOTICE: The second meaning of "feel" is very flexible and there is no real difference in meaning between "I don't feel well today" and "I am not feeling well today."

Present Simple Tense

Simple Present



FORM

[VERB] + s/es in third person
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • You only speak English.
  • Do you only speak English?

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

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

Present Continuous

Present Continuous



FORM

[am/is/are + present participle]
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples: (All of these sentences can be said while eating dinner in a restaurant.)
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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."
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • You are still watching TV.
  • Are you still watching TV?

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

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

Present Perfect

Present Perfect



FORM

[has/have + past participle]
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.

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

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

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

Present Perfect Continuous

Present Perfect Continuous



FORM

[has/have + been + present participle]
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • You have only been waiting here for one hour.
  • Have you only been waiting here for one hour?

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

Examples:
  • 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.

Past Simple

Simple Past



FORM

[VERB+ed] or irregular verbs
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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."
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Example:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • You just called Debbie.
  • Did you just call Debbie?

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

Examples:
  • Tom repaired the car. Active
  • The car was repaired by Tom. Passive

Past Continuous

Past Continuous



FORM

[was/were + present participle]
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Example:
  • 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."
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • You were just studying when she called.
  • Were you just studying when she called?

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

Examples:
  • 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

Past Perfect

Past Perfect



FORM

[had + past participle]
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Example:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • You had previously studied English before you moved to New York.
  • Had you previously studied English before you moved to New York?

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

Examples:
  • 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

Past Perfect Continuous


Past Perfect Continuous



FORM

[had been + present participle]
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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

Examples:
  • 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.

Future in the Past


Future in the Past


Like Simple Future, Future in the Past has two different forms in English: "would" and "was going to." Although the two forms can sometimes be used interchangeably, they often express two different meanings.

FORM Would

[would + VERB]
Examples:
  • I knew you would help him.
  • I knew you would not help him.

FORM Was/Were Going To

[was/were + going to + VERB]
Examples:
  • I knew you were going to go to the party.
  • I knew you were not going to go to the party.

USE 1 Future in Past


Future in the Past is used to express the idea that in the past you thought something would happen in the future. It does not matter if you are correct or not. Future in the Past follows the same basic rules as the Simple Future. "Would" is used to volunteer or promise, and "was going to" is used to plan. Moreover, both forms can be used to make predictions about the future.
Examples:
  • I told you he was going to come to the party. plan
  • I knew Julie would make dinner. voluntary action
  • Jane said Sam was going to bring his sister with him, but he came alone. plan
  • I had a feeling that the vacation was going to be a disaster. prediction
  • He promised he would send a postcard from Egypt. promise

REMEMBER No Future in Time Clauses

Like all future forms, Future in the Past 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 using Future in the Past, you must use Simple Past.
Examples:
  • I already told Mark that when he would arrive, we would go out for dinner. Not Correct
  • I already told Mark that when he arrived, we would go out for dinner. Correct

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

Examples:
  • I knew John would finish the work by 5:00 PM. Active
  • I knew the work would be finished by 5:00 PM. Passive
  • I thought Sally was going to make a beautiful dinner. Active
  • I thought a beautiful dinner was going to be made by Sally. Passive

Used To


Used To



FORM

[used to + VERB]
Example:
  • I used to go to the beach every day.
It is better not to use "used to" in questions or negative forms; however, this is sometimes done in informal spoken English. It is better to ask questions and create negative sentences using Simple Past.

USE 1 Habit in the Past


"Used to" expresses the idea that something was an old habit that stopped in the past. It indicates that something was often repeated in the past, but it is not usually done now.
Examples:
  • Jerry used to study English.
  • Sam and Mary used to go to Mexico in the summer.
  • I used to start work at 9 o'clock.
  • Christine used to eat meat, but now she is a vegetarian.

USE 2 Past Facts and Generalizations


"Used to" can also be used to talk about past facts or generalizations which are no longer true.
Examples:
  • I used to live in Paris.
  • Sarah used to be fat, but now she is thin.
  • George used to be the best student in class, but now Lena is the best.
  • Oranges used to cost very little in Florida, but now they are quite expensive.

"Used to" vs. Simple Past

Both Simple Past and "Used to" can be used to describe past habits, past facts and past generalizations; however, "used to" is preferred when emphasizing these forms of past repetition in positive sentences. On the other hand, when asking questions or making negative sentences, Simple Past is preferred.
Examples:
  • You used to play the piano.
  • Did you play the piano when you were young?
  • You did not play the piano when you were young.

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

Examples:
  • Jerry used to pay the bills. Active
  • The bills used to be paid by Jerry. Passive

Future Simple


Simple Future


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]
Examples:
  • 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]
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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

Examples:
  • 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

Future Continuous


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]
Examples:
  • 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]
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Example:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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.
Examples:
  • 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

Examples:
  • 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
NOTE: Passive forms of the Future Continuous are not common.
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