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Tenses

  • Tenses are referred to as the expression of time an action takes place in a sentence
  • This means that it refers to the time an action happens, be it in the past, present, and future
  • English has two main basic tenses, present and past, both of which happen in simple forms. For example:
    • Simple Present: I work. He works
    • Simple Past: I worked. He worked
  • But, when combined with auxiliaries,
    • they form progressive tense. E.g. I am working. I was working.,
    • and perfective tense. E.g. I have worked. I have been working, etc.
    • I am working
  1. The Simple Present Tense is mostly used to express:
    1. habitual action. For example:
      • Nkechi eats rice every morning
      • The office opens at 8 am every work day
    2. a general truth. For example:
      • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west
      • The earth revolves around the sun
    3. action performed in the present. E.g. I forgive you
  2. Simple Past Tense expresses:
    1. an activity that existed in the past but no longer occurs in the present. For example:
      • I enjoyed soccer during my school days
      • We watched the kids play
    2. a wish/supposition. For example:
      • I wish I were still a child
      • If John were here, things would have been different
  3. Present Progressive/Continuous Tense: These tenses indicate activities that are in progress or not yet completed. It mostly expresses:
    1. an activity that is always in progress. For example:
      • Janet is always complaining about something
      • We are forever breathing while we live
    2. an activity occurring in the present. For example:
      • Mama is praying
      • Peter is studying
  4. Past Progressive tense: is used to express continuous action in the past. These actions took place in the past and have been concluded at the time of speaking. For example:
    • I was eating when you came
    • Father was preparing dinner when TOm departed
    • I saw Stormzy at the cinema last week
  5. Present Perfect Tense is used to express:
    1. an action/state of being, starting in the past, extending to the present, and yet not completed. For example:
      • We have lived in Lagos since 1980
      • The family has lived in Chicago for twenty years
    2. an activity just completed. For example:
      • We have completed the work
      • Joan just received the message
  6. Present Perfect Continuous/Progressive Tense is used to express activity happening in the present time which is still in progress with recent time. For example:
    • The baby has been crying since morning
    • There has been no light since morning
    • The lecturer has told his students of the possible effects of not taking their studies seriously
  7. Past Perfect Tense expresses past activity completed before some other past event took place. For example:
    • I discovered that John had disappointed by not coming
    • We noticed that the lecture room had been converted into an office
  8. Future Perfect Tense expresses an action that will be completed in the future before the occurrence of other future events. For example:
    • I shall have arrived home from school by this time tomorrow
    • By this time next week, the mason shall have completed the building
  9. Future Progressive Tense describes or expresses actions that will continue to occur or happen at a later time in future. At the time of speaking, the action has not yet taken place. For example:
    • They will be punishing the thief by the time he arrives tomorrow
    • We shall be proceeding from where they found us
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