It is basically a verb-based method used to indicate the time regarding the occurrence of an action. It talks about when an action happens, its continuation, or completeness in relation to the time of speaking.
Similarly, many other languages use tenses to talk about time. However, some languages do not even have the concept of tense or its usage. But in English grammar, tenses hold a major position. Let us discuss below to have a better idea.
What are tenses?
The concept of tense is basically a method that we use in English to talk about the time of activity. We use tenses to tell when a person does something or when an action occurs. However, it is possible that sometimes, even without the use of tense, one can still talk about time.
Nevertheless, tenses are of three main types, namely past, present, and future. Each describes actions concerning time in different contexts and forms.
The present tense is a type that talks about things that are happening in the present. That means it describes something that has a present or current existence. The simple form of present tense usually describes an action that occurs regularly or habitually.
The past tense is used when we talk about actions that occurred in the past. It describes something that no longer exists in the present. These are activities that started and ended in the past.
The final type, the future tense, talk about an action that will occur sometime in the future. These are actions that have not occurred yet but have certainty of happening at a time later than now.
Types of tenses
Apart from the time expression of tenses, there is another component, the aspects. There are mainly two aspects of tenses, the progressive and the perfective.
The progressive aspect describes an action that is continuous in nature. These are actions that are ongoing or are in process. And the perfective aspect talks about actions that have been completed. These are actions that have already ended before a certain point in time.
These components, the time, and the aspects work together to give the following forms of the three different tenses:
Furthermore, these two aspects can combine and form the following aspects:
- Present perfect continuous tense – I have been working.
- Past perfect continuous tense – I had been working.
- Future perfect continuous tense – I will have been working.
Also, there is a simple form of tenses that is not actually considered an aspect of tenses. The simple aspect is just the base form of tenses such as;
However, by compiling all these forms and aspects, we get twelve main verb tenses in English grammar.