Table of all English tenses

The number of grammatical tenses in the English language is way more than the average in other languages. This is partly because English does not have a sophisticated mood system and many of these tenses are expressed with a mood in other languages. This feature can make learning English grammatical somewhat confusing. In this post, I am going to have an overview of the structural aspect of tenses in the English language and compare different tenses in simple to grasp tables.

important note!

Do not be fooled by the names chosen for each tense. Tense names are arbitrary and usually do not correspond with the time reference they express (for example present perfect tense does not show action in present time). The name is usually more related to the grammatical structure of the tense and in this post, we are mostly talking about that.

Categorizing tenses

English grammatical tenses can be categorized based on two aspects:

by time

  • Present
  • Past
  • Future

by action

  • Simple
  • Continuous (or progressive)
  • Perfect
  • Perfect-Continuous

An overview of English grammatical tenses

Present Past Future
Simple Present simple Past simple Future simple
Continuous Present Continuous Past continuous Future continuous
Perfect Present perfect Past perfect Future perfect
Perfect-Continuous Present perfect continuous Past perfect continuous Future perfect continuous

Auxiliary verbs

Present Past Future
Simple do/does (support) did (support) will
Continuous am/is/are was/were will + be
Perfect have/has had will + have
Perfect-Continuous have/has + been had + been will + have + been

Verb inflection

Present Past Future
Simple present verb past verb  present verb
Continuous -ing form -ing form -ing form
Perfect past participle past participle past participle
Perfect-Continuous -ing form -ing form -ing form

The passive form of all tenses

In the passive voice, the main verb is always in Past Participle form, and what changes are the auxiliary verbs that can be found in the following table:

Present Past Future
Simple am/is/are was/were will + be
Continuous am/is/are + being was/were + being will + be + being
Perfect have/has + been had + been will + have + been
Perfect-Continuous have/has + been + being had + been + being will + have + been + being

The odd ones out!

There are two tenses that are absent in the list above:

The table below shows their structure in the active and passive voice

Active Passive
Future simple am/is/are + going to am/is/are + going to + be
Future in past was/were + going to  was/were + going to + be


* Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Ali Shahdoost

With 8 years of experience in digital marketing and content marketing and a few founded companies, I write here of my interests and thoughts.

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