Although this may only confuse a student of French, and French Grammar, here is my conglomerated guide to English grammar.
Present Simple – an unchanging, repeated, or reoccurring action or situation that exists only now.
John lives in New York.
We play football every day.
You are really kind.
The meeting starts at 3 PM.
Past Simple – expresses an action or situation that was started and finished in the past. Most past tense verbs end in -ed. The irregular verbs have special past tense forms which must be memorized. This tense is used for past actions that are now finished, situations in the past, or for a series of actions in the past.
John cut his finger last week.
I went to college 3 years ago.
He ate the dinner 1 hour ago.
I slept well last night.
I lived in New York for 10 years (I don’t live there anymore).
He entered a room, lit a cigarette and smiled at the guests.
Future Simple – expresses an action or situation that will occur in the future, and is often used for promises, unplanned actions, predictions, intuition or habits. This tense is formed by using will/shall with the simple form of the verb. The future tense can also be expressed by using am, is, or are with going to.
It’s going to rain. Look at the clouds!
I promise I will buy you this toy.
Promise you will never leave me!
It will rain in a moment.
It will get more difficult.
She will bit her lip if she is thinking or if she’s nervous about something.
He will always make noise when we are sleeping.
The surgeon is going to perform the first bypass in Minnesota.
We can also use the present tense form with an adverb or adverbial phrase to show future time. The president speaks tomorrow. (Tomorrow is a future time adverb.)
Each tense has a progressive/continuous form, indicating ongoing action
Each tense has a perfect form, indicating completed action. In fact, when you look at the various perfect tenses (past, present & future), notice how the action has completed in that time frame…making it “perfect”.
Each tense has a perfect progressive/continuous form, indicating ongoing action that will be completed at some definite time. The “perfect” version of continuous or progressive tenses (past, present & future) is not yet perfect (because it didn’t end, like the perfect form did….but it will.
Present Progressive Tense/Present Continuous
Present Progressive Tense is also sometimes called Present Continuous, and it describes an ongoing action that is happening at the same time the statement is written. This tense is formed by using am/is/are with the verb form ending in -ing.
The sociologist is examining the effects that racial discrimination has on society.
He is sleeping.
I am visiting grandpa in the afternoon.
You are always coming late for the meetings!
Past Progressive Tense/Past Continuous
Past progressive tense describes a past action which was happening when another action occurred. This tense is formed by using was/were with the verb form ending in -ing. It is used to talk about actions or situations that lasted for some time in the past, and whose duration time is unknown or unimportant.
I was watching TV yesterday in the evening.
She was sleeping on the couch.
The dog was barking.
The tense is also often used when one action in progress is interruped by another action in the past. The Past simple is also used in such sentences, and “when” or “while” is used to link the two sentences.
The explorer was explaining the lastest discovery in Egypt when protests began on the streets.
Future Progressive Tense/Future Continuous
Future progressive tense describes an ongoing or continuous action that will take place in the future. This tense is formed by using will be or shall bewith the verb form ending in -ing.
Dr. Jones will be presenting ongoing research on sexist language next week.
Tomorrow at this time, I will be taking my English langauge exam.
Ben won’t be eating the dinner now. He usually eats it around noon!
Will you be coming to the party tonight?
Present Perfect Tense
Present perfect tense describes an action that happened at an indefinite time in the past or that began in the past and continues in the present.This tense is formed by using has/have with the past participle of the verb. Most past participles end in -ed. Irregular verbs have special past participles that must be memorized. This tense is also used when an activity has an effect on the present moment, or we wish to emphasize an event that continues into the present
The researchers have traveled to many countries in order to collect more significant data.
I have read this book.
The man has gone away.
John has worked as a teacher for over 25 years.
Past Perfect Tense
Past perfect tense describes an action that took place in the past before another past action. This tense is formed by using had with the past participle of the verb. The tense is also used for third conditional sentences, reported speech, and dissatisfaction with the past.
By the time the troops arrived, the war had ended.
I had finished my homework before I went playing football.
John had never been to London before we went there last year
If we had gone by taxi, we wouldn’t have been late.
If Mary had studied harder, she would have passed the exam.
Mary said she had already seen this film.
He asked if I had read Harry Potter.
I wish I had taken more food. I’m hungry now.
If only I had taken more food. I’m hungry now.
Future Perfect Tense
Future perfect tense describes an action that will occur in the future before some other action. This tense is formed by using will have with the past participle of the verb. The tense is also used to indicated completion before a specified point in the future, actions or situations that will last in the future (for a specified time), and when certainty that an action will complete.
By the time the troops arrive, the combat group will have spent several weeks waiting.
Before they come, we will have cleaned up the house.
John will have eaten the whole cake, by the time the birthday party starts!
By the next year, I will have known Monica for 30 years.
Patrick will have lived in Hong Kong for 20 years by 2012.
The train will have left by now. We have to look for another way to get there. (I’m sure the train has left)
The guests will have arrived at the hotel by now. (I’m sure the guests have arrived at the hotel)
Perfect Progressive/Continuous Forms
Present Perfect Progressive/Present Perfect Continuous
Present Perfect Progressive tense is also called Present Perfect Continuous, and it describes an action that began in the past, continues in the present, and may continue into the future. This tense is formed by using has/have been and the present participle of the verb (the verb form ending in -ing). The tense is also used when actions has recently stopped and temporary actions and situations exist.
The CEO has been considering a transfer to the state of Texas where profits would be larger.
I have been working as a teacher for 30 years.
What have you been doing?
I have been waiting for you for half an hour!
Look at her eyes! I’m sure she has been crying
I have been living in Boston for two months.
I have been working as a waitress for the past week.
Past Perfect Progressive/Past Perfect Continuous
Past perfect progressive tense describes a past, ongoing action that was completed before some other past action. This tense is formed by using had been and the present perfect of the verb (the verb form ending in -ing). The tense is also used to show cause of an action or situation, third conditional sentences and for reported speech.
Before the budget cuts, the students had been participating in many extracurricular activities.
John was in a detention because he had been misbehaving.
The road was wet because it had been raining.
I had to go on a diet because I had been eating too much sugar.
Jessica got sunburnt because she had been lying in the sun too long.
If it hadn’t been raining, we would have gone to the park.
She said she knew Charlie had been lying to her.
Future Perfect Progressive/Future Perfect Continuous
Future perfect progressive tense describes a future, ongoing action that will occur before some specified future time. This tense is formed by using will have been and the present participle of the verb (the verb form ending in -ing). The tense is also used to show cause of a future situation.
Before they come, we will have been cleaning the house for 5 hours.
By the next year, Ben and his wife will have been living together for 50 years.
By this time, he will have been working for 12 hours, so he will be very tired.
We will be making a rest stop in half an hour, because you will have been driving the car for 6 hours by then.
Here is a list of examples of these tenses, for the verb – to take:
Perfect Progressive is the last column on the right. I am having formatting problems with this matrix.
|Forms||Simple||Progressive / Continous||Perfect|
|Present||take/s||am/is/are taking||have/has taken||have/has been taking|
|Past||took||was/were taking||had taken||had been taking|
|Future||will/shall take||will be taking||will have taken||will have been taking|
Form Simple Progressive Perfect Perfect Progressive
|Present||*Habitual*General truth*Reporting in print*Historical present||*Present momentAction*Present period of time action*Parallel actions||*An action that beganin the past and continues by/in thepresent*An action occurredin the past (time is notspecified)
*An action has
occurred more than
once in the past
|*An action that started in the past and has continued into thepresent (emphasis on duration of the activity)*An activity that has been in progress recently|
|Past||*Past action (specific time)*Past action (no longer true)||*Past moment action*Past action (emphasis on duration)||*An action wascompleted by a definite past time/ before another past action||*An action that was completed before another action in thepast (emphasis on the duration)|
|Future||*An action that will occur in the future||*Future moment action*Future action(emphasis on duration)||*An action will becompleted beforeanother time in thefuture||*An action that has been in progress for a period of timebefore another event in the future|
Note: Working on this post, and helping my language partner with English made me realize how difficult certain aspects of English really are, but also how flexible English can be. English can be as casual as Spanish, and yet as precise as German, depending on your approach.