The Simple Present Tense
When you see one of the following words or time phrases in a sentence, consider using the simple present tense.
every (week) / usually / generally / once a (week)
He goes to church once a week.
They usually have breakfast at 7:00.
The Progressive Tense
Use the progressive tense if you use a time phrase to show the specific point in time.
now / right now / at this moment /
I am eating lunch right now
My son was playing a computer game when I got home.
I was watching TV at 9:00 last night.
I watched TV last night.
The Past Tense
The following words and phrases are used with the past tense.
ago / yesterday / last (year) / in (2013) / on September 11, 2001
Special uses of the past tense.
- To express a wish
I wish I had a car.- In subjunctive mood
I wish you would be able to come.
If I were you, I would accept the offer.- To express politeness
I wonder if you can come to dinner tonight.- In sentence structure "It's time ......"
I wondered if you could come to dinner tonight. (formal and polite)
I was wondering if you could come to dinner tonight. (more polite)
It's time we left.
It's time you bought a new car.
It's time we bailed out our education.
It's high time we went.
The Perfect Tense
The following words and phrases are used with the perfect tense.
since / in the past (3 years) / so far / for (a period of time) / yet / ever / frequently / recently / repeatedly / several times / many times /
The following words can be used for both the past and perfect tenses.
already / just / before
A one-time action verb cannot be used with a time phrase that shows a period of time.
I have bought my house for 10 years. (incorrect)
I have had my house for 10 years. (correct)
I have bought my house. (correct)
My grandfather has died for 5 years. (incorrect)
My grandfather has been dead for 5 years. (correct)
My grandfather has died. (correct)
whenUse the present progressive tense to express the future
We will be there when you arrive tomorrow.
We will be there when you will arrive tomorrow. (incorrect)
It won't be long before the rain stops.
I'll have lunch after I finish / have finished my work.
I'll wait here until she comes.
as soon as
I'll give it to you as soon as you come back.
He is taking the exam next week.The simple present tense is used to express the future if something is scheduled to happen.
I'm having dinner with him tomorrow.
The train leaves at 7:30 this evening.Use the future progressive tense when a specific point in time in the future is mentioned.
She retires next month.
Tomorrow is Tuesday.
He will be flying to China at this time tomorrow.Use the future perfect tense when "by" is used.
He will be attending a meeting at 10:30.
By the end of next week, they will have finished all the work
You will have changed your mind by tomorrow.
By the end of the year, Susan will have worked here for 30 years.