Summery of Tenses

corso inglese aziende

Past, Present or Future ?

The use of different tenses can be confusing and difficult for any student at any level. That’s why we have made a summery of different English tenses, describe when and how to use them and show some examples.

Tense Use Form Examples
Present Simple 1. Habits, routines,

repeated actions,

in combination with

adverbs of frequency:


always, never etc.

+ infinitive

   he/she/it +-s

– / ? Use auxiliary do 

– I often get the 6 o’clock train.

– She works from home.

– Do you speak French ?

2. Permanent situations,

truths or believed to be true.

– My brother is an engineer.

– It rains a lot in Ireland.

– Is she from America ?

3. For states, senses and feelings,

when we use stative verbs such 

as: believe, like, want, taste etc.

– I don’t like ice-cream.
4. Timetabled events in the future. – The match starts at 4 o’clock.
5. Commentaries. – Smith passes to Ronaldo.
Present Continuous 1. To talk about things happening now. To be + infinitive + ing – He is making some coffee.
2. Talking about temporary states in progress or limited duration. – We are looking for writers.
3. Repeated actions over a temporary situation. – Classes are starting at 5 pm this week.
4. Changes and developing situations. – The climate is getting warmer.
Past Simple A finished action that took place in the past, mostly connected with an expression of time. Regular: infinitive + ed

Irregular: went, bought etc.

– / ? Use auxiliary did

– I saw Kate yesterday.
Past Continuous 1. Something in progress over a certain past period. Was, were + infinitive + ing – We were making too much noise.
2. Two events simultaneously in progress. While, when. – I was working while you were having fun.
3. An action happened in the middle of another action. In combination with Past Simple. – I was packing one of the boxes when my phone rang.
Present Perfect 1. Something that happened in the past and has a connection to the present. Have, has + past participle (regular infinitive + ed, irreg.: been, broken etc.) – It has been a long night and I’m tired now.
2. To talk about a period of time continuing up to the present. – For over 50 years , Stirling Cars has developed classic sports cars.
3. To talk about life experiences. – Have you ever seen Paris ?

– She has had several interesting jobs.

Present Perfect Continuous Used for an action that was in progress for a certain period of time and is somehow related to this moment. Have / has + been+ infinitive+ -ing – The children have been making a cake.

– I’ve been filling in this form all evening.

Past Perfect Is often used with the Past Simple contrasting two times, one that happened before the other. Had + past participle (reg. infinitive + ed, irreg. : written, broken, seen ect.) – I had written 3 books before I turned 40.

– Susie had already left for work when John called.

Past Perfect Continuous 1. For a past event that was in progress up to a certain point. Had + been + infinitive + -ing – I had been working for hours before he turned up.
2. To emphasize the duration. – She’d been waiting at the airport for 5 hours.
Will + infinitive 1. Making predictions Will + infinitive – This time next week I’ll be in Ibiza.
2. To make decisions at the moment of speaking – I’ll have a look.

– I’ll open the window

3. Promises – I’ll pay you back on Friday.
4. Offers – I’ll help you with that.
Going to + infinitive 1. To talk about a plan or intention when the decision has already been made. To be + going to + infinitive – I’m going to visit Spain next year.
2. To make a more definite prediction based on evidence. – It’s going to rain. ( you can see the clouds )
Future Continuous To talk about an action in progress at a certain time in the future. Will + be + infinitive + ing – This time tomorrow I will be skiing.
Future Perfect To talk about something that will already have happened before e certain time in the future. Will + have + past participle – I’ll have painted 3 doors by this time tomorrow.
Future Perfect Continuous An action in progress but not completed before a certain time in the future. Will + have + been  + infinitive + – ing – I’ll have been writing for 4 hours by lunchtime.



  • “Teaching English Grammar” by Jim Scrivener, Mac Millan
  • “How English Works” by Micheal Swan and Catherine Walter, Oxford University Press
  • “Practical English Usage” by Micheal Swan, Oxford University Press
  • “Business Result” by Michael Duckworth and Rebecca Turner, Oxford University   Press
  • “Market Leader” by Davis Cotton, David Falvey, Simon Kent, FT Publishing