In English grammar, the term "tense" traditionally refers to any conjugated form
expressing grammatical tense, aspect, or mood. The large number of different composite
verb forms means that English has the richest and subtlest system of tense and
aspect of any Germanic language. This can be confusing for foreign learners;
however, the English system can be presented systematically by noting that each
of the temporal spheres (past, present, future) distinguishes simple forms from
progressive (continuous), perfect, or both.
I study English every day.
Two years ago, I studied English in England.
If you are having problems, I will help you study English.
I am going to study English next year.
I am studying English now.
I was studying English when you called yesterday.
I will be studying English when you arrive tonight.
I am going to be studying English when you arrive tonight.
I have studied English in several different countries.
I had studied a little English before I moved to the U.S.
I will have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.
I am going to have studied every tense by the time I finish this course.
Present Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect Continuous
Future Perfect Continuous
I have been studying English for five years.
I had been studying English for five years before I moved to the U.S.
I will have been studying English for over two hours by the time you arrive.
I am going to have been studying English for over two hours by the time you
Sentences can be active or passive. Therefore, tenses also have "active forms"
and "passive forms".
This table, of course, omits a number of forms which can be regarded as
additional to the basic system:
the intensive present I do write
the intensive past I did write
the habitual past I used to write
the intensive future I shall write
the "going-to future" I am going to write
the "future in the past" I was going to write
the conditional I would write
the perfect conditional I would have written
the subjunctive, if I be writing, if I were writing.