University Centre of Aflou                  Department of Economy

Level: master one classes                    Teacher: Tahari Selma    


The verb tense system in English

-Today we are going to give you a basic overview of the verb tense system in English.

- Verb tenses tell us how an action relates to the flow of time.

-There are three main verb tenses in English: present, past and future. The present, past and future tenses are divided into four aspects:  the simple, progressive, perfect and perfect progressive.

-English has only two ways of forming a tense from the verb alone: the past and the present. For example, we drove and we drive.

-To form other verb tenses, you have to add a form of have, be or will in front of the verb. These are called helping, or auxiliary verbs.

Simple Tenses:

We’ll start with the simple tenses. These are probably the first tenses you learned in English. Simple tenses usually refer to a single action. In general, simple tenses express facts and situations that existed in the past, exist in the present, or will exist in the future.

Simple present: I drive home every day.

Simple past: I drove home yesterday.

Simple future: I will drive home later.

Progressive (Continuous) Tenses:

Let’s go on to the progressive tenses. We use progressive tenses to talk about unfinished events. Progressive tenses are also called continuous tenses.

Past progressive: I was driving when you called.

Present progressive: I am driving now.

Future progressive: I will be driving when you call.

Perfect Tenses:

Now let’s look at the perfect tenses. Perfect tenses cause the most confusion. To put it simply, they express the idea that one event happens before another event.

- The adverbs never, yet and already are common in perfect tenses.

Present perfect: I have driven that road.

Past perfect: I had already driven that road in the past.

Future perfect: I will have driven 200 miles by tomorrow.

Perfect Progressive Tenses

Finally, let’s look at the perfect progressive tenses. Generally, perfect progressive tenses express duration, or how long? Perfect progressive tenses usually include the adverbs for or since.

Present perfect progressive: I have been driving since this morning.

Past perfect progressive: I had been driving for three hours before I stopped to get gas.

Future perfect progressive: I will have been driving for five hours by the time I arrive.














It snowed yesterday.

Simple past verb

It snows every winter.

Simple present verb

It is going to snow tonight.

It will snow this winter.

Will / be going to + simple present


It was snowing when I drove to work.

Was/were + -ing verb

It is snowing.

Am/is/are+-ing verb

It will be snowing by the time I get home.

Will be + -ing verb


It had already snowed before I left.

Had + past participle verb

I have driven in snow many times.

Have/has + past participle verb

It will have snowed 6 inches by the end of the day.

Will have + past participle verb

Perfect progressive

It had been snowing for two days before it stopped.

Had been + -ing verb + for/since

It has been snowing all month long.

Has/have + -ing verb + for/since

It will have been snowing for three days by the time it stops.

Will have been + -ing verb + for/since