What Is Tense? : Types. Definition, Function Examples, and Formula

Time is a continuous flow measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, or years. On the other hand, Tense is a grammatical concept specific to a particular language. The tense system in English is not similar to that of any other language such as Odia or Sanskrit.

The English language has only two defined tenses of verbs: present and past. With the help of these two tenses, we express three phases of time: Past, Present, and Future.

So, at times, we have difficulty in expressing ourselves using the proper tense forms of verbs. In this chapter, we will study how the available tense forms of verbs express all the three phases of time.

Ways of Expressing the Present Time

Anita: What is your brother doing these days?
Binita: He is studying at a college this year. He is studying +2 Science. He is preparing himself for engineering studies.
Anita: He wants to be an engineer, doesn’t he?
Binita: Yes, I think so.

Look at the verbs in the dialogue given above. What tense forms are they in? We use the following tense forms of verbs in order to express the present time:

Present Simple

What Is Simple Present Tense?

Present simple: for Habitual action, laws of nature, general or scientific truths, present state or present fact, and permanent state of permanent fact.

Examples :

I go to school every day.
Tigers live in forests.
I feel hungry.
Permanent snow covers the Antarctica.
The sun rises in the east.
Water boils at 1000 c.
I study at this school.
Bhubaneswar is the capital of Odisha.

Present Progressive

He/She/Raj/The          girl  isstudying 
English grammar
We/You/They/The studentsare

What Is Present Progressive Tense?

We use the Present Progressive form of a verb for an action or a situation which is going on now. It is an incomplete action at present, which began at some time before now, going on at the moment of speaking, and will continue till some point of time in future and then be completed.

Present progressive: for something happening now, for something happening over a period of time, or for a temporary action.

Examples :

It is raining (now).
My brother is searching for a job.
He usually goes to school on his bicycle, but today he is going there on foot.

Ways of Expressing the Past Time

Anita: How was your weekend?
Binita: Oh, really good. I went to Puri with my family.
Anita Did you spend some time at the seashore?
Binita: Wow, that was terrific. Have you ever been there?
Anita: Yes, I spent my childhood there.

Look at the verbs in the dialogue given above. What tense forms are they in? We use the following tense forms of verbs in order to express the past time:

Present Perfect

What Is Present Perfect Tense?

Present perfect: for a past action with present relevance, as in I have (already) done my homework.

Present Perfect Progressive

What Is Present Perfect Progressive Tense?

Present perfect progressive: for something that started in the past, continuing at present and likely to continue in the future, as in

I am out of breath because I have been running round the playground.

Past Simple

What Is Simple Past Tense?

Past simple : for a past action that happened in a moment or a past action that happened over a period of time, as in

Examples :

India became free in 1947.
The British ruled over India for many years.

Past Perfect

What Is Past Perfect Tense?

Past perfect: for an older action in the past, as in

Examples :

When we reached the station, the train had left. So, we went to our village by bus

Past Progressive

What Is Past Progressive?

Past progressive: for an action in progress in the past, as in

Examples :

I was studying in class IX last year.

Past Perfect Progressive

What Is Past Perfect Progressive Tense?

Past perfect progressive : for a past action in progress for some time when another action took place, as in

Examples :

They had been driving for two hours when their car broke down

Ways of Expressing the Future Time

Anita: Say, Bini, what are you doing this afternoon? Would you like to go shopping with me?
Banita: Oh, sorry. I can’t. I am going to finish my homework before the evening. My uncle and aunt are coming to our house.
Anita: You will help your mother, won’t you?
Banita: Of course. Moreover, my uncle’s little son loves me so much. We are going to play together.
Anita: That will be great. Bye. Have a nice time.

Look at the verbs in italics in the dialogue given above. What tense forms are they in? What time do they refer to?
We use the following tense forms of verbs in order to express the future time:

01. With the help of modals for simple future of an unplanned action, as in

Examples :

Wait a minute. I will come with you.

02. Be going to + verb for future fulfillment of present cause or indication, and future action with present intention or decision, as in

Examples :

There are dark clouds in the sky. It is going to rain.
We are going to leave for Puri tomorrow morning.

03. Present Progressive for a planned or arranged program of a future action, as in

Examples :

The Chief Minister is meeting the Governor tomorrow morning.

04. Present simple for an official program (where future is seen as a fact), as in

Examples :

Tomorrow is Sunday. The match begins at 4.30 pm.

05. Others like be about to will be v-ing, will have v-en, etc. are for something imminent, an action to be in progress in the future, an action to be completed in the future respectively. You studied examples of these types in the previous class.

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