Tense Chart of English Verbs: Rules, Formulas Types, Examples & Tenses Charts

12 verb tenses chart

What is the Role of Tenses?

To learn English verbs well, you need to look beyond their definitions in a dictionary. You should also learn their conjugations and how to use each of their forms properly. Most English language learners start by memorizing these forms, for both regular and more complex irregular verbs.

For example, you may know the dictionary meaning of talk; however, before using the word to denote a future event, you must recognize your options. Using talk to specify a future occurrence can be done in any of the following:

  • I’ll talk to my teacher this afternoon.
  • I’m going to talk to my teacher this afternoon.
  • I’m talking to my teacher this afternoon.

Whenever tenses in English are involved, people think of defined time. Although true for most actions or conditions designated to the present, past, and future, it isn’t always so. Let’s look at the following example:

Their flight to Bangkok leaves in an hour.

The simple present tense of the verb leave is used, but it refers to an event in the future.

Each tense has aspects or forms that mark different information. The aspects of each tense indicate whether an action, a state, or an event is finished, and how a verb relates to other verbs within a time period. For example, I learn English. and I’m learning English. are both in the present tense, but their aspect isn’t the same. In the first sentence, the verb refers to a habitual or recurring action. However, the verb in the second sentence alludes to an action that isn’t complete yet. Study the following example:

We had been eating dinner when someone knocked on the door.

The sentence has two main verbs: eat and knock. Both are in the past tense, but their aspects are different. Had been eating is the past perfect continuous, while knocked is the simple past. It shows that the action of eating was ongoing and unfinished when the action of knocking interrupted it.

An Overview of Verb Tenses and Their Aspects

Tenses are an essential element in English grammar. They reference time, whether or not an action or event has finished, and which actions or events finish first in a time sequence where multiple verbs are connected in a single sentence. Tenses rules are expressed in their conjugations and subsequent patterns.

There are three types of Tenses:

  1. Present Tense
  2. Past Tense
  3. Future Tense

Each Tense consists of four aspects or forms:

  1. Simple
  2. Perfect
  3. Continuous
  4. Perfect Continuous

There are 12 tenses in total. The beginner tenses chart below shows how tenses and their aspects intersect.

English Verb Tenses Chart

SimpleSimple PresentSimple PastSimple Future
ContinuousPresent ContinuousPast ContinuousFuture Continuous
PerfectPresent PerfectPast PerfectFuture Perfect
Perfect ContinuousPresent Perfect ContinuousPast Perfect ContinuousFuture Perfect Continuous
All English Tenses

The Importance of a Tense Chart in English

Tenses are used to describe past, present, and future actions, states, or occurrences. Using the right one will help to make the context of your subject precise and distinct. However, despite its frequency in the English language, tenses can be quite confusing to people who are learning English. There are 12 tenses, as previously mentioned, each with its own tense rules. But in truth, the most commonly used tenses in ordinary English conversations are the simple tenses and the present continuous tense. Having said that, it’s still important to be aware and familiar with the other tenses.

As shown in the previous section of this article, an English grammar tense chart was included to show all 12 tenses and how they overlap. A tense table or a chart of tenses is an important tool to aid the study of verbs. This way you have easy references to what they look like and how they’re used. In this article, we will present several charts that you can copy and print out for your own learning purposes. We will organize the charts according to rules, examples, and concepts for easy memorization and review.

General English Grammar Tense Chart

The English tense chart below shows all 12 tenses with sample sentences using regular and irregular verbs. For this tenses table, we’ll use the regular verb cook and the irregular verb draw. You can easily distinguish whether a verb is regular or irregular based on its simple past and past participle forms. Regular verbs add the “–ed” suffix, and irregular verbs don’t.

Tense Chart for Regular and Irregular Verbs

TenseCook (regular verb)Draw (irregular verb)
Simple PresentHe cooks egg soup.She draws portraits.
Present ContinuousHe is cooking egg soup.She is drawing portraits.
Present PerfectHe has cooked egg soup.She has drawn portraits.
Present Perfect ContinuousHe has been cooking egg soup.She has been drawing portraits.
Simple PastHe cooked egg soup.She drew portraits.
Past ContinuousHe was cooking egg soup.She was drawing portraits.
Past PerfectHe had cooked egg soup.She had drawn portraits.
Past Perfect ContinuousHe had been cooking egg soup.She had been drawing portraits.
Simple FutureHe will cook egg soup.She will draw portraits.
Future ContinuousHe will be cooking egg soup.She will be drawing portraits.
Future PerfectHe will have cooked egg soup.She will have drawn portraits.
Future Perfect ContinuousHe will have been cooking egg soup.She will have been drawing portraits.

What does a Tense Chart with Rules Look Like

The table below is what most people refer to as the “rule of tense chart” or the “tenses rules chart”. Many English language students put it together themselves as a quick guide for their studies. It contains the basic rules, the tense forms of regular verbs and irregular verb forms, and clear distinctions of time. It’s also a tense chart with examples. Sentences can offer a visual and comprehension technique to recall the content over time effortlessly. It’s a valuable resource for any language learner to have.

Verb Tenses Rules and Formulas Chart

TensesRules and FormulasExamples
Simple PresentBase form + -s/esMika eats breakfast at 6 a.m.
Present ContinuousHelping Verb (am/is/are) + Main verb + ingMy students are writing their Christmas essays.
Present PerfectHelping Verb (have/has) + Past participle of the main verbShe has studied history for many years.
Present Perfect ContinuousHave/Has + Been + Verb + ingI have been cleaning the pool for two days.
Simple PastVerb + ed/verb in the past tenseStewart took the car to the mechanic.
Past ContinuousHelping Verb (was/were) + Main verb + ingIt was raining hard this morning.
Past PerfectHelping Verb (had) + Past participle of the main verbSheila had met Kim before the opening.
Past Perfect ContinuousHad + Been + Verb + ingThey had been practicing the new dance when I arrived at the gym.
Simple FutureWill/shall + Main verbKyle will paint the car tomorrow.
Future ContinuousWill be/shall be + Main verb + ingI will be watching the store for her in the summer.
Future PerfectWill have/shall have + Past participle of the main verbI will have dressed up by the time you reach home.
Future Perfect ContinuousWill have been + Main verb + ingI will have been cooking for two hours by 11 a.m.

A Closer Look at the Present Tense Chart

The 4 types of present tense are as follows:

  1. Simple Present
  2. Present Continuous
  3. Present Perfect
  4. Present Perfect Continuous

1. Simple Present

This tense is used to talk about habits, events that happen regularly, giving instructions or directions, feelings or emotions, and general truths or facts.

Simple Present Tense Formula
Subject + Verb in the base form + -s/es + Rest of the sentence

Simple Present Tense Examples:

  • Go to the store and buy some ice cream.
  • Hilly drinks at night.
  • They volunteer on Saturdays.
  • I feel quite happy.
  • She dances as she enters the studio.

2. Present Continuous

This tense is used for an action that is in progress at the moment of speaking, or for an event at a certain time in the future.

Present Continuous Tense Formula
Subject + Am/is/are + Present participle + Rest of the sentence

Present Continuous Tense Examples:

  • My mother is cooking lunch.
  • His cousins are visiting tomorrow.
  • They are buying her a present later.
  • I am staying in the school canteen at the moment.
  • She is talking to the builders now.

3. Present Perfect

This tense is used for actions that began in the past and aren’t finished for the time being (in which case the phrases “for + a length of time” or “since + a specific start time” are often used), actions that occurred at some point in the past (in which case words such as already, yet, or ever is used), and past actions that have an influence in the present.

Present Perfect Tense Formula
Subject + Have/has + Past participle of the main verb + Rest of the sentence

Present Perfect Tense Examples:

  • I have studied this subject for 10 years.
  • They have been to London.
  • Ryan has tried to solve the puzzle since breakfast.
  • Katrina has found her car keys.
  • They have lived in this area for several years.

4. Present Perfect Continuous

This tense is used for an action that started at some time past and is continuing in the present. Time phrases with for and since are often used.

Present Perfect Continuous Tense Formula
Subject + Have/Has Been + Present participle + Rest of the sentence

Present Perfect Continuous Tense Examples:

  • The foundation has been helping homeless people for years.
  • Patrick has been working on his school project for five days.
  • Jenna has been cooking since 4 a.m.
  • We don’t know the exact time, but they have been visiting us for five months I think.
  • They have been planning the school farewell luncheon since June.

A Closer Look at the Past Tense Chart

The 4 types of past tense are as follows:

  1. Simple Past
  2. Past Continuous
  3. Past Perfect
  4. Past Perfect Continuous

1. Simple Past

This tense is used for actions that began and finished in the past.

Simple Past Tense Formula
Subject + Verb + ed/past tense form of irregular verbs + Rest of the sentence

Simple Past Tense Examples:

  • Naya watched the latest superhero film with her friends.
  • They went to their favorite bookstore in the morning.
  • She moved to Seoul last week.
  • My brother bought me some toys on his first payday.
  • I gave the bracelet to her as a good luck present.

2. Past Continuous

This tense is used to talk about actions “in progress” around a particular time in the past. It emphasizes that the action progressed for that period of time.

Past Continuous Tense Formula
Subject + Was/were + Present Participle + Rest of the sentences

Past Continuous Tense Examples:

  • It was raining when I went to school yesterday.
  • The school’s headmaster was scolding a group of boys for smoking.
  • Jai and Tommy were looking for the manuscripts last night.
  • The school nurse was checking my temperature a few hours ago.
  • The students were cheering when their favorite teacher returned to the school.

3. Past Perfect

This tense is used to show the sequence of two actions or events in the past. The past perfect verb tense shows the action that finished first and the past simple shows the action that took place after.

Past Perfect Tense Formula
Subject + Had + Past participle + Rest of the sentence

Past Perfect Tense Examples:

  • I had gone to school before I answered the phone.
  • They had met each other in grad school and set up their own business.
  • Navi had wanted to attend art school but her parents disagreed.
  • Ishaan had gone to the city before everyone realized it.
  • My high school had closed down before the school year began.

4 Past Perfect Continuous

This tense is used for actions that began before a specific time in the past and were still in progress up to that time or to emphasize that certain actions were ongoing before other things interrupted them.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense Formula
Subject + Had been + Present participle + Rest of the sentence

Past Perfect Continuous Tense Examples:

  • The school janitor had been trimming the garden when the earthquake happened.
  • Inaya had been studying in the after-school Math program before her high school granted her a scholarship.
  • I had been attending graduate school for two years when I got promoted at work.
  • The school had been monitoring her activities before they decided to fire her.
  • She had been warning them for weeks before the accident occurred.
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A Closer Look at the Future Tense Chart

The 4 types of future tense are as follows:

  1. Simple Future
  2. Future Continuous
  3. Future Perfect
  4. Future Perfect Continuous

1. Simple Future

This tense is used for actions or conditions that haven’t happened yet, or that will begin and end at some point in the future.

Simple Future Tense Formula
Subject + Will/shall + Main verb + Rest of the sentence

Simple Future Tense Examples:

  • I will transfer to another school next year.
  • We will go shopping in the afternoon to prepare for the guests.
  • The school will open a new campus in January.
  • Her foundation will donate a new school bus.
  • Deven will visit us in the fall.

2. Future Continuous

This tense is used for actions that will be in progress in a future time.

Future Continuous Tense Formula
Subject + Will/shall be + Present Participle + Rest of the sentence

Future Continuous Tense Examples:

  • They will be attending band practice at school tomorrow.
  • You will be staying at my place during your vacation.
  • We will be learning about verb forms on Friday.
  • Kavi will be designing the school uniform.
  • Shaila and her sister will be using this room for rehearsals.

3. Future Perfect

This tense is used for something that will be finished or completed before a particular point in the future. Often there are two actions and the future perfect’s distinction of form is made with the formula below.

Future Perfect Tense Formula
Subject + Will/shall have + Past participle + Rest of the sentences

Future Perfect Tense Examples:

  • We will have been married for 10 years on September 19.
  • Vivan will have finished cooking by 7 p.m.
  • Kamala will have returned home before the clock strikes midnight.
  • I will have visited them by this time next year.
  • On Monday, you will have worked at the store for 6 months.

4. Future Perfect Continuous

This tense is used for actions that will continue until a certain time in the future. As with the future perfect tense, there are often two actions involved in sentences with clear distinctions of time.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense Formula
Subject + Will have been + Present participle + Rest of the sentence

Future Perfect Continuous Tense Examples:

  • By 7 p.m., I will have been baking for two hours.
  • I will have been living in the capital for 4 years in August.
  • She will have been reading for an hour when he arrives at 9 o’clock.
  • Next year, I will have been working in this store for 2 years.
  • He will have been teaching yoga for 15 years in the spring.

Tense Chart English: Negative Sentences and Questions

So far, we’ve covered verb forms in their affirmative verb tense structure. To illustrate other verb forms, each of the following sections is a chart of tense that will show you a better distinction of form. Each tense structure chart will allow you to create or derive your own tense rules chart to create a customized reference for your English language learning. We’ve included all tenses so you can glean a formula of tenses in their negative verb form, interrogative verb form, and sentences with question words. Study the verb forms for each verb tense to get a solid grasp and gain useful tips in making an English grammar chart.

1. Table of tenses: present tense

Present Tense Sentence Structures Chart

TenseNegativeInterrogativeInterrogative with Question Word
Simple PresentHe does not drink.Does he drink?Why does he drink?
Present ContinuousShe is not dancing.Is she dancing?When is she dancing?
Present PerfectYou have not practiced.Did you practice?Where did you practice?
Present Perfect ContinuousJoel has not been reading.Has Joel been reading?Why has Joel been reading for 3 hours?

2. English tenses chart: past tense

Past Tense Sentence Structures Chart

TenseNegativeInterrogativeInterrogative with Question Word
Simple PastHe did not eat.Did he eat?What time did he eat?
Past ContinuousApeksha was not singing.Was Apeksha singing?Where was Apeksha singing?
Past PerfectThey had not studied.Had they studied?When had they studied?
Past Perfect ContinuousRava had not been sleeping.Had Rava been sleeping?Where had Rava been sleeping?

3. Tense table chart: future tense

Future Tense Sentence Structures Chart

TenseNegativeInterrogativeInterrogative with Question Word
Simple FutureMarge will not go to university.Will Marge go to university?Why will she go to university?
Future ContinuousWe will not be visiting in April.Will we be visiting in April?When will we be visiting?
Future PerfectHe will not have traveled.Will they have traveled?Where will they have traveled?
Future Perfect ContinuousGreg will not have been driving for 6 hours.Will Greg have been driving for 6 hours?Why will Greg have been driving for 6 hours?
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Using a tense chart with rules and examples is indispensable in language learning. In fact, there is a massive number of ESL students who make the tense formula chart on their own. Apart from the typical verbs used in general English conversations, each student has a different exposure to the English language and may encounter completely divergent sets of verbs, which makes the method of tailoring a tenses formula chart relevant to your own language journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Verb Tense?

Tense is one of several categories of the English language’s grammatical elements. It’s mainly used for expressing time, sequence, and temporal relevance. They are expressed through the use of different verb forms that denote such meanings.

What are the 12 types of tenses and give some examples?

There are 3 main tenses: present, past, and future. Each tense has 4 forms: simple, perfect, continuous, and perfect continuous. Hence, the 12 types of tenses:

1. Simple Present
2. Present Perfect
3. Present Continuous
4. Present Perfect Continuous
5. Simple Past
6. Past Perfect
7. Past Continuous
8. Past Perfect Continuous
9. Simple Future
10. Future Perfect
11. Future Continuous
12. Future Perfect Continuous

This article is invaluable as it has a tenses rules chart with examples and formulas neatly structured for your reference. Read the charts, print them, or study them to devise your own. 

How many types of tenses can be explained by chart?

In learning, there’s a chart for virtually anything. Most charts are useful in that they compress a subject matter to their essential concepts without unnecessary explanations or complex details. If you’re after making your own chart, study the formulas of a chart on tenses. Reflect on your study habits and how you respond well to particular techniques. This will help you greatly to make a chart of tense rules and examples that will work specifically for you. Try to write sample sentences that are interesting to you on topics that match your preferences to remember them easily.

What is meant by V1 V2 V3?

In some countries, these are used as markers to write language formulas faster. While some countries adopt a practical methodology for learning English, some countries treat it like mathematics. The benefits and drawbacks of each mode of study are a topic for another day. V1 means the main verb, V2 stands for simple past form, and V3 is the past participle.

How to learn English tenses?

Do you mean apart from the dedicated English lessons that you have in school? You can increase your knowledge and understanding of verb tenses by remaining focused. Some English language learners study verbs the wrong way and so find the need to unlearn a habit and form better ones. Study a tenses chart with examples and don’t ignore the specifics of each tense rule. Identify the patterns and change the details of the sentence samples to fit your information. Study as many examples as possible and practice. If your aim is to speak well, remember that the simple tenses and the present continuous tense are the only 4 tenses you need to communicate effectively in daily life. There will be exceptions, as there is quite a number in the English language, but you can learn through experience and apply them naturally in time.

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William Landry

William Landry

William is a professional English and ESL teacher with over 15 years of experience. He has taught students of all ages, from children to business executives, and has worked with ESL learners from all over the globe. With a degree in English Education, William has developed curriculum for learners of all levels and interests. He is passionate about helping people learn English effectively and shares his knowledge with the LillyPad community. When he’s not teaching or writing, William enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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