Master Verb Tenses With This Sentence Structure Chart

Positive, Negative, and Questions in All 13 English Tenses

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Learning English verb tenses can be challenging for non-native speakers because there are so many rules to remember. By using a chart, you can simplify the task of learning all 13 tenses by breaking them down into different sentence structures. The following tips will also help you improve your English skills as you practice tenses.

Change Auxiliary Verbs

Remember that each tense changes in the auxiliary verb, rather than the main verb.

The main verb is either in its simple form (do/did, play/played, make/made), the present participle (going, playing, watching, eating) or the past participle (had, done, thought, etc.).

  • I am watching TV right now.
  • You are watching TV right now.
  • He is watching TV right now.

Be Careful with Present Simple and Past Simple Positive

The only tenses that do not take an auxiliary verb are the present simple and past simple.

  • She teaches Russian on Tuesdays.
  • They played soccer yesterday.

Use Time Expressions

In order to choose the correct tense, make sure to check the time expressions used before you conjugate. You need to know when something happens before you can decide which tense to use. In this first example, "right now" implies the present continuous tense.

  • We're learning English right now.

In the second example, the phrase "for three years" indicates duration of time in the present perfect tense.

  • He has lived in New York for three years.

    Keep Verbs Together

    Keep the auxiliary and main verb together in positive and negative sentences. The only word that should ever come between the auxiliary and main verb is in a question (the subject) and adverbs of frequency.

    • She has worked her for a long time.
    • Peter didn't understand the question.

    Exceptions:

    • What were they doing at 7 p.m.?
    • He hasn't often traveled abroad. 

    Differences Between Action and Stative Verbs

    Only action verbs are used in continuous and perfect continuous tenses. Stative verbs, verbs that state how something is or appears, are not used in the continuous and perfect continuous tenses. In the first example, the verb "playing" indicates action.

    • They are playing tennis at the moment.

    In this second example, "want" implies a state of being (not "wanting").

    • They want to play tennis at the moment.  

    Learn Tense Types

    There are four types of tenses: simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous. It's helpful to learn groups of tenses together based on the principal function of each type. Here's an overview:

    • Simple tenses focus on complete events.
    • Continuous tenses focus on action at a specific moment in time and cannot be used with stative verbs.
    • Perfect tenses focus on what has been completed from one time to another.
    • Perfect continuous tenses focus on how long something has been happening from one time to another. 

    Check Your Understanding

     Decide whether the following statements about tenses in English are true or false. 

    1. Each English tense has an auxiliary verb.
    2. Positive, negative, and questions always include an auxiliary verb.
    1. Continuous tenses focus on completed events.
    2. It's possible to place an adverb of frequency such as 'usually' between the auxiliary and main verb.
    3. Perfect tenses focus on an action or a state that begins at one point in time and continues to the next.
    4. Perfect continuous tenses focus on how long an action or continues from one point to the next.

    Answers

    1. True: All tenses in English have an auxiliary verb. However, auxiliary verbs are dropped in the positive form of the present simple and past simple.
    2. False: Drop auxiliary verbs in present simple and past simple positive sentences.
    3. False: Continuous tenses focus on actions happening at a specific moment in time.
    4. True: It's possible to place adverbs of frequency between the auxiliary and main verb.
    5. True: Perfect tenses focus on events and states over periods of time.
    1. False: Stative verbs are not used in continuous forms.  

    Tense Tables

    Need more review? These tables outline the positive, negative, and question forms of the 13 verb tenses.

    Positive Forms

    TenseSubjectHelping VerbMain Verb (String)Objects / Time / Place
    Present SimpleI-eatbreakfast at 8 in the morning.
     You-eatbreakfast at 8 in the morning.
     He-eatsbreakfast at 8 in the morning.
     She-eatsbreakfast at 8 in the morning.
     It-eatsbreakfast at 8 in the morning.
     We-eatbreakfast at 8 in the morning.
     You-eatbreakfast at 8 in the morning.
     They-eatbreakfast at 8 in the morning.
    Present ContinuousIamlearningEnglish online right now.
     YouarelearningEnglish online right now.
     HeislearningEnglish online right now.
     SheislearningEnglish online right now.
     ItislearningEnglish online right now.
     WearelearningEnglish online right now.
     YouarelearningEnglish online right now.
     TheyarelearningEnglish online right now.
    Past SimpleI-wentto the store yesterday.
     You-wentto the store yesterday.
     He-wentto the store yesterday.
     She-wentto the store yesterday.
     It-wentto the store yesterday.
     We-wentto the store yesterday.
     You-wentto the store yesterday.
     They-wentto the store yesterday.
    Past ContinuousIwascookingdinner when you came home yesterday.
     Youwerecookingdinner when you came home yesterday.
     Hewascookingdinner when you came home yesterday.
     Shewascookingdinner when you came home yesterday.
     Itwascookingdinner when you came home yesterday.
     Wewerecookingdinner when you came home yesterday.
     Youwerecookingdinner when you came home yesterday.
     Theywerecookingdinner when you came home yesterday.
    Future with WillIwillcometo class tomorrow
     Youwillcometo class tomorrow
     Hewillcometo class tomorrow
     Shewillcometo class tomorrow
     Itwillcometo class tomorrow
     Wewillcometo class tomorrow
     Youwillcometo class tomorrow
     Theywillcometo class tomorrow
    Future with Going toIam going toflyto New York next week.
     Youare going toflyto New York next week.
     Heis going toflyto New York next week.
     Sheis going toflyto New York next week.
     Itis going toflyto New York next week.
     Weare going toflyto New York next week.
     Youare going toflyto New York next week.
     Theyare going toflyto New York next week.
    Future ContinuousIwill beworkingat 5 pm tomorrow evening.
     Youwill beworkingat 5 pm tomorrow evening.
     Hewill beworkingat 5 pm tomorrow evening.
     Shewill beworkingat 5 pm tomorrow evening.
     Itwill beworkingat 5 pm tomorrow evening.
     Wewill beworkingat 5 pm tomorrow evening.
     Youwill beworkingat 5 pm tomorrow evening.
     Theywill beworkingat 5 pm tomorrow evening.
    Present PerfectIhavetaughtEnglish for many years.
     YouhavetaughtEnglish for many years.
     HehastaughtEnglish for many years.
     ShehastaughtEnglish for many years.
     IthastaughtEnglish for many years.
     WehavetaughtEnglish for many years.
     YouhavetaughtEnglish for many years.
     TheyhavetaughtEnglish for many years.
    Present Perfect ContinuousIhave beenwatchingTV for three hours.
     Youhave beenwatchingTV for three hours.
     Hehas beenwatchingTV for three hours.
     Shehas beenwatchingTV for three hours.
     Ithas beenwatchingTV for three hours.
     Wehave beenwatchingTV for three hours.
     Youhave beenwatchingTV for three hours.
     Theyhave beenwatchingTV for three hours.
    Past PerfectIhadeatenlunch before you came home yesterday.
     Youhadeatenlunch before you came home yesterday.
     Hehadeatenlunch before you came home yesterday.
     Shehadeatenlunch before you came home yesterday.
     Ithadeatenlunch before you came home yesterday.
     Wehadeatenlunch before you came home yesterday.
     Youhadeatenlunch before you came home yesterday.
     Theyhadeatenlunch before you came home yesterday.
    Past Perfect ContinuousIhad beenworkingfor three hours before he arrived.
     Youhad beenworkingfor three hours before he arrived.
     Hehad beenworkingfor three hours before he arrived.
     Shehad beenworkingfor three hours before he arrived.
     Ithad beenworkingfor three hours before he arrived.
     Wehad beenworkingfor three hours before he arrived.
     Youhad beenworkingfor three hours before he arrived.
     Theyhad beenworkingfor three hours before he arrived.
    Future PerfectIwill havefinishedthe report by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
     Youwill havefinishedthe report by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
     Hewill havefinishedthe report by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
     Shewill havefinishedthe report by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
     Itwill havefinishedthe report by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
     Wewill havefinishedthe report by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
     Youwill havefinishedthe report by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
     Theywill havefinishedthe report by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
    Future Perfect ContinuousIwill have beenstudyingEnglish for five hours by four o'clock this afternoon.
     Youwill have beenstudyingEnglish for five hours by four o'clock this afternoon.
     Hewill have beenstudyingEnglish for five hours by four o'clock this afternoon.
     Shewill have beenstudyingEnglish for five hours by four o'clock this afternoon.
     Itwill have beenstudyingEnglish for five hours by four o'clock this afternoon.
     Wewill have beenstudyingEnglish for five hours by four o'clock this afternoon.
     Youwill have beenstudyingEnglish for five hours by four o'clock this afternoon.
     Theywill have beenstudyingEnglish for five hours by four o'clock this afternoon.

    Negative Forms

    TenseSubjectHelping Verb + NotMain Verb (String)Objects / Time / Place
    Present SimpleIdon'tvisitmy friends every day.
     Youdon'tvisitmy friends every day.
     Hedoesn'tvisitmy friends every day.
     Shedoesn'tvisitmy friends every day.
     Itdoesn'tvisitmy friends every day.
     Wedon'tvisitmy friends every day.
     Youdon'tvisitmy friends every day.
     Theydon'tvisitmy friends every day.
    Present ContinuousIam notstudyingmath at the moment.
     Youaren'tstudyingmath at the moment.
     Heisn'tstudyingmath at the moment.
     Sheisn'tstudyingmath at the moment.
     Itisn'tstudyingmath at the moment.
     Wearen'tstudyingmath at the moment.
     Youaren'tstudyingmath at the moment.
     Theyaren'tstudyingmath at the moment.
    Past SimpleIdidn'tplaysoccer last week.
     Youdidn'tplaysoccer last week.
     Hedidn'tplaysoccer last week.
     Shedidn'tplaysoccer last week.
     Itdidn'tplaysoccer last week.
     Wedidn'tplaysoccer last week.
     Youdidn'tplaysoccer last week.
     Theydidn'tplaysoccer last week.
    Future with WillIwon'tcookdinner tomorrow.
     Youwon'tcookdinner tomorrow.
     Hewon'tcookdinner tomorrow.
     Shewon'tcookdinner tomorrow.
     Itwon'tcookdinner tomorrow.
     Wewon'tcookdinner tomorrow.
     Youwon'tcookdinner tomorrow.
     Theywon'tcookdinner tomorrow.
    Future with Going toIam not going toflyto Chicago next week.
     Youaren't going toflyto Chicago next week.
     Heisn't going toflyto Chicago next week.
     Sheisn't going toflyto Chicago next week.
     Itisn't going toflyto Chicago next week.
     Wearen't going toflyto Chicago next week.
     Youaren't going toflyto Chicago next week.
     Theyaren't going toflyto Chicago next week.
    Future ContinuousIwon't besittingat a computer next week at this time.
     Youwon't besittingat a computer next week at this time.
     Hewon't besittingat a computer next week at this time.
     Shewon't besittingat a computer next week at this time.
     Itwon't besittingat a computer next week at this time.
     Wewon't besittingat a computer next week at this time.
     Youwon't besittingat a computer next week at this time.
     Theywon't besittingat a computer next week at this time.
    Present PerfectIhaven'tseenTom since 2008.
     Youhaven'tseenTom since 2008.
     Hehasn'tseenTom since 2008.
     Shehasn'tseenTom since 2008.
     Ithasn'tseenTom since 2008.
     Wehaven'tseenTom since 2008.
     Youhaven'tseenTom since 2008.
     Theyhaven'tseenTom since 2008.
    Present Perfect ContinuousIhaven't beenstudyingfor very long.
     Youhaven't beenstudyingfor very long.
     Hehasn't beenstudyingfor very long.
     Shehasn't beenstudyingfor very long.
     Ithasn't beenstudyingfor very long.
     Wehaven't beenstudyingfor very long.
     Youhaven't beenstudyingfor very long.
     Theyhaven't beenstudyingfor very long.
    Past PerfectIhadn'teatenlunch before I arrived.
     Youhadn'teatenlunch before I arrived.
     Hehadn'teatenlunch before I arrived.
     Shehadn'teatenlunch before I arrived.
     Ithadn'teatenlunch before I arrived.
     Wehadn'teatenlunch before I arrived.
     Youhadn'teatenlunch before I arrived.
     Theyhadn'teatenlunch before I arrived.
    Past Perfect ContinuousIhadn't beensleepingvery long when I woke him.
     Youhadn't beensleepingvery long when I woke him.
     Hehadn't beensleepingvery long when I woke him.
     Shehadn't beensleepingvery long when I woke him.
     Ithadn't beensleepingvery long when I woke him.
     Wehadn't beensleepingvery long when I woke him.
     Youhadn't beensleepingvery long when I woke him.
     Theyhadn't beensleepingvery long when I woke him.
    Future PerfectIwon't havepreparedthe report by Friday.
     Youwon't havepreparedthe report by Friday.
     Hewon't havepreparedthe report by Friday.
     Shewon't havepreparedthe report by Friday.
     Itwon't havepreparedthe report by Friday.
     Wewon't havepreparedthe report by Friday.
     Youwon't havepreparedthe report by Friday.
     Theywon't havepreparedthe report by Friday.
    Future Perfect ContinuousIwon't have beendrivingfor very long this time tomorrow.
     Youwon't have beendrivingfor very long this time tomorrow.
     Hewon't have beendrivingfor very long this time tomorrow.
     Shewon't have beendrivingfor very long this time tomorrow.
     Itwon't have beendrivingfor very long this time tomorrow.
     Wewon't have beendrivingfor very long this time tomorrow.
     Youwon't have beendrivingfor very long this time tomorrow.
     Theywon't have beendrivingfor very long this time tomorrow.

    Question Forms

    TenseQuestion WordHelping VerbSubjectMain Verb (String)Objects / Time / Place?
    Present SimpleHow oftendoIeatdinner in a restaurant?
     How oftendoyoueatdinner in a restaurant?
     How oftendoesheeatdinner in a restaurant?
     How oftendoessheeatdinner in a restaurant?
     How oftendoesiteatdinner in a restaurant?
     How oftendoweeatdinner in a restaurant?
     How oftendoyoueatdinner in a restaurant?
     How oftendotheyeatdinner in a restaurant?
    Present ContinuousWhatamIdoingright now?
     Whatareyoudoingright now?
     Whatishedoingright now?
     Whatisshedoingright now?
     Whatisitdoingright now?
     Whatarewedoingright now?
     Whatareyoudoingright now?
     Whataretheydoingright now?
    Past SimpleWheredidIgolast week?
     Wheredidyougolast week?
     Wheredidhegolast week?
     Wheredidshegolast week?
     Wherediditgolast week?
     Wheredidwegolast week?
     Wheredidyougolast week?
     Wheredidtheygolast week?
    Future with WillWhenwillIhelpme with my homework tomorrow?
     Whenwillyouhelpme with my homework tomorrow?
     Whenwillhehelpme with my homework tomorrow?
     Whenwillshehelpme with my homework tomorrow?
     Whenwillithelpme with my homework tomorrow?
     Whenwillwehelpme with my homework tomorrow?
     Whenwillyouhelpme with my homework tomorrow?
     Whenwilltheyhelpme with my homework tomorrow?
    Future with Going toWhereamIgoing to stayin New York next week?
     Whereareyougoing to stayin New York next week?
     Whereishegoing to stayin New York next week?
     Whereisshegoing to stayin New York next week?
     Whereisitgoing to stayin New York next week?
     Wherearewegoing to stayin New York next week?
     Whereareyougoing to stayin New York next week?
     Wherearetheygoing to stayin New York next week?
    Future ContinuousWherewillIbe stayingtomorrow night?
     Wherewillyoube stayingtomorrow night?
     Wherewillhebe stayingtomorrow night?
     Wherewillshebe stayingtomorrow night?
     Wherewillitbe stayingtomorrow night?
     Wherewillwebe stayingtomorrow night?
     Wherewillyoube stayingtomorrow night?
     Wherewilltheybe stayingtomorrow night?
    Present PerfectHow longhaveIlivedin your current house?
     How longhaveyoulivedin your current house?
     How longhashelivedin your current house?
     How longhasshelivedin your current house?
     How longhasitlivedin your current house?
     How longhavewelivedin your current house?
     How longhaveyoulivedin your current house?
     How longhavetheylivedin your current house?
    Present Perfect ContinuousHow longhaveIbeen studyingtoday?
     How longhaveyoubeen studyingtoday?
     How longhashebeen studyingtoday?
     How longhasshebeen studyingtoday?
     How longhasitbeen studyingtoday?
     How longhavewebeen studyingtoday?
     How longhaveyoubeen studyingtoday?
     How longhavetheybeen studyingtoday?
    Past PerfectWherehadIeatenlunch before I arrived this afternoon?
     Wherehadyoueatenlunch before I arrived this afternoon?
     Wherehadheeatenlunch before I arrived this afternoon?
     Wherehadsheeatenlunch before I arrived this afternoon?
     Wherehaditeatenlunch before I arrived this afternoon?
     Wherehadweeatenlunch before I arrived this afternoon?
     Wherehadyoueatenlunch before I arrived this afternoon?
     Wherehadtheyeatenlunch before I arrived this afternoon?
    Past Perfect ContinuousHow longhadIbeen workingbefore Tom telephoned yesterday?
     How longhadyoubeen workingbefore Tom telephoned yesterday?
     How longhadhebeen workingbefore Tom telephoned yesterday?
     How longhadshebeen workingbefore Tom telephoned yesterday?
     How longhaditbeen workingbefore Tom telephoned yesterday?
     How longhadwebeen workingbefore Tom telephoned yesterday?
     How longhadyoubeen workingbefore Tom telephoned yesterday?
     How longhadtheybeen workingbefore Tom telephoned yesterday?
    Future PerfectHow many bookswillIhave finishedby the end of next year?
     How many bookswillyouhave finishedby the end of next year?
     How many bookswillhehave finishedby the end of next year?
     How many bookswillshehave finishedby the end of next year?
     How many bookswillithave finishedby the end of next year?
     How many bookswillwehave finishedby the end of next year?
     How many bookswillyouhave finishedby the end of next year?
     How many bookswilltheyhave finishedby the end of next year?
    Future Perfect ContinuousHow longwillIhave been workingby the end of the day?
     How longwillyouhave been workingby the end of the day?
     How longwillhehave been workingby the end of the day?
     How longwillshehave been workingby the end of the day?
     How longwillithave been workingby the end of the day?
     How longwillwehave been workingby the end of the day?
     How longwillyouhave been workingby the end of the day?
     How longwilltheyhave been workingby the end of the day?

     

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    Your Citation
    Beare, Kenneth. "Master Verb Tenses With This Sentence Structure Chart." ThoughtCo, Feb. 21, 2018, thoughtco.com/sentence-structure-chart-1209906. Beare, Kenneth. (2018, February 21). Master Verb Tenses With This Sentence Structure Chart. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sentence-structure-chart-1209906 Beare, Kenneth. "Master Verb Tenses With This Sentence Structure Chart." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sentence-structure-chart-1209906 (accessed April 21, 2018).