Today’s Grammar Time takes a look at verb tenses.
Most people know that verbs can be in the past, present, or future tense, but did you know that English also has simple, perfect, and progressive verbs? Simple, perfect, and progressive tenses can be combined with past, present, and future tenses when you want to express time in a complex yet precise way.
A simple verb expresses the past, present, and future in a general sense. Consider these examples:
- Simple present: I play the piano.
- Simple past: I played the piano.
- Simple future: I will play the piano.
Generally, the simple present uses the verbs basic form (play) while the simple past uses the present form plus -ed. Finally, the future has will plus the basic form (will play).
Next we consider progressive verbs. Progressive verbs end in -ing and express ongoing action. Here are some examples:
- Present progressive: I am playing the piano.
- Past progressive: I was playing the piano.
- Future progressive: I will be playing the piano.
Progressive verbs come after a “to be” verb (am, was, and be) that expresses the present, past, or future. Note that to make the future tense, you also need to use the word will.
The perfect tense shows a completed act and uses the past participle -ed. Here’s what the past, present, and future perfect look like:
- Present perfect: I have played the piano.
- Past perfect: I had played the piano.
- Future perfect: I will have played the piano.
Perfect verbs come after a form of the verb to have and end in -ed. Have, had, and will have, respectively, indicate present, past, and future.
In web writing, keep tenses as simple as possible. Don’t use the perfect or progressive unless you need to in order to be accurate. The progressive tense in particular can make text a little more difficult to read, so cut those -ing verbs for a more direct style. However, it’s still ideal to know how to use them properly.
Until next time, Grammar Time readers!