English Tenses Timeline Reference

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Beare, Kenneth. "English Tenses Timeline Reference." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2016, thoughtco.com/english-tenses-timeline-reference-4084637. Beare, Kenneth. (2016, September 8). English Tenses Timeline Reference. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/english-tenses-timeline-reference-4084637 Beare, Kenneth. "English Tenses Timeline Reference." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/english-tenses-timeline-reference-4084637 (accessed October 19, 2017).
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This timeline tenses chart provides a handy reference sheet to English tenses and their relationship to one another and the past, present and future. This chart is complete, but it is important to note that certain tenses are rarely used in everyday conversation. These seldom used tenses are marked by an asterisk (*).

For an overview of conjugation of these tenses, use the tense tables or the for reference.

Teachers can use theses guides on how to teach tenses for further activities and lesson plans in class

Timeline for Sentences

     
SIMPLE ACTIVESIMPLE PASSIVE PROGRESSIVE / CONTINUOUS ACTIVEPROGRESSIVE / CONTINUOUS PASSIVE
  

PAST TIME
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She had already eaten when I arrived.The painting had been sold twice before it was destroyed.


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PAST PERFECT
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I had been waiting for four hours when he finally arrived.The house had been being painted for over a month before they began to decorate the interior. *
I bought a new car last week.The book was written in 1876 by Frank Smith.


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PAST
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I was watching TV when she arrived.The problem was being solved when I arrived late for class.
She has lived in California for many years.The company has been managed by Fred Jones for the last two years.


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PRESENT PERFECT
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She has been working at Johnson's for six months.The students have been being taught for the last four hours. *
He works five days a week.Those shoes are made in Italy.


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PRESENT
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I am working at the moment.The work is being done by Jim.
  


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PRESENT MOMENT
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FUTURE INTENTION
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V

They are going to fly to New York tomorrow.The reports are going to be completed by the marketing department.
The sun will shine tomorrow.The food will be brought later.


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FUTURE SIMPLE
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V

She will be teaching tomorrow at six o'clock.The rolls will be being baked at two. *
I will have completed the course by the end of next week.The project will have been finished by tomorrow afternoon.


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FUTURE PERFECT
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V

She will have been working here for two years by the end of next month.The house will have been being built for six months by the time they finish. *
  

FUTURE TIME
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V

  

 

Here are some important rules for using tenses:

  1. Use the past perfect for an action which is completed before another action in the past. It's common to use 'already' with the past perfect.
  2. Use the past perfect continuous to express how long something had been happening before a moment in the past. 
  3. Use the past simple to express something that happened in the past. Continue to use the past simple when telling a story.
  1. Use the past continuous for an action which is interrupted by another action in the past. The interrupting action takes the past simple.
  2. Use the past continuous to express something that was happening at a specific hour of the day in the past.
  3. When using 'yesterday', 'last week', 'three weeks ago', or other past time expressions use the past simple.
  4. Use the present perfect for something that begins in the past and continues into the present moment.
  5. Use the present perfect when speaking about life experience in general.
  6. Use the present perfect to focus on how long something has been happening up to the present moment in time. 
  7. Use the present simple to speak about routines, habits and things that happen every day.
  8. Use the present simple with adverbs of frequency such as 'usually', 'sometimes', 'often', etc.
  9. Use the present continuous only with action verbs that express what is happening at the present moment.
  10. Use the present continuous to express something that is happening around the moment of speaking. this is especially common in business settings to talk about current projects.
  11. Use the future with 'will' to express promises, predictions and when reacting to something that happens as you are speaking.
  1. Use the future with 'going to' to speak about plans and intentions for the future. 
  2. Use the future continuous to speak about what will be happening at a specific moment of time in the future.
  3. Use the future perfect to express what will have been done by some time in the future.
  4. Use the future perfect continuous to express how long something will have been happening up to a future point in time.