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CEnglish Tenses in a Table III

Tense Signal words Use Form Examples affirmative Examples negative Examples
questions
Simple Present or Present Simple
  • every day
  • sometimes
  • always
  • often
  • usually
  • seldom
  • never
  • first … then
  • something happens repeatedly
  • how often something happens
  • one action follows another
  • things in general
  • with the following verbs (to love, to hate, to think, etc.)
  • future meaning: timetables, programmes
infinitive
(he/she/it)
+ -s
I work. I don’t
work.
Do I 

work?

He works. He 
doesn’t
work.
Does he
work?
I go. I don’t go. Do I go?
He goes. He 
doesn’t
go.
Does he 

go?

Present
Progressive or
Present Continuous
  • now
  • at the moment
  • Look!
  • Listen!
  • something is happening at the same time of speaking or around it
  • future meaning: when you have already decided and arranged to do it (a fixed plan, date)
to be
(am/are/is)
+ infinitive
+ -ing
I’m
working.
I’m not
working.
Am I

working?

He’s
working.
He isn’t
working.
Is he 
working?
I’m going. I’m not
going.
Am I 

going?

He’s going. He isn’t
going.
Is he

going?

Simple Past or Past Simple
  • last …
  • … ago
  • in 1990
  • yesterday
action finished in the past, mostly connected with an expression of time (no connection to the present) worked. didn’t
work.
Did I work?
He worked. He didn’t
work.
Did he 

work?

went. didn’t
go.
Did I go?
He went. He didn’t
go.
Did he go?
Past
Progressive or
Past Continuous
while
  • an action happened in the middle of another action
  • someone was doing sth. at a certain time (in the past) – you do not know whether it was finished or not
was
working.
wasn’t
working.
Was I
working?
He was
working.
He wasn’t
working.
Was he 
working?
was going. wasn’t
going.
Was I 

going?

He was
going.
He wasn’t
going.
Was he 

going?

Simple
Present
Perfect
or
Present
Perfect
  • just
  • yet
  • never
  • ever
  • already
  • so far
  • up to now
  • since
  • for
  • recently
  • you say that sth. has happened or is finished in the past and it has a connection to the present
  • action started in the past and continues up to the present
have
worked.
haven’t
worked.
Have I
worked?
He has
worked.
He hasn’t
worked.
Has he 

worked?

have
gone.
haven’t
gone.
Have I 

gone?

He has
gone.
He hasn’t
gone.
Has he

gone?

Present Perfect Progressive or Present Perfect Continuous
  • all day
  • the whole day
  • how long
  • since
  • for
  • action began in the past and has just stopped
  • how long the action has been happening
  • emphasis: length of time of an action
have 

been
working.

haven’t 
been working.
Have I 

been
working?

He has

been

working.

He hasn’t
been working.
Has he

been
working?

have 

been
going.

haven’t
been going.
Have I 

been
going?

He has
been going.
He hasn’t
been
going.
Has he 

been
going?

Simple Past Perfect or Past Perfect (Simple)
  • already
  • just
  • never
  • mostly when two actions in a story are related to each other: the action which had already happened is put into Past Perfect, the other action into Simple Past
  • the past of Present Perfect
had
worked.
hadn’t
worked.
Had I
worked?
He had
worked.
He hadn’t
worked.
Had he 
worked?
had gone. hadn’t
gone.
Had I gone?
He had
gone.
He hadn’t
gone.
Had he 

gone?

Past Perfect Progressive or Past Perfect Continuous
  • how long
  • since
  • for
how long something had been happening before something else happened had 

been
working.

hadn’t
been
working.
Had I 

been
working?

He had

been

working.

He hadn’t
been working.
Had he 

been
working?

had 

been
going.

hadn’t
been
going.
Had I 

been
going?

He had 

been
going.

He hadn’t
been
going.
Had he 

been
going?

will – future  
  • predictions about the future (you think that sth. will happen)
  • you decide to do sth. spontaneously at the time of speaking, you haven’t made a decision before
  • main clause in type I of the if clauses
I‘ll work. won’t
work.
Will I 

work?

He‘ll work. He won’t
work.
Will he 

work?

I‘ll go. won’t
go.
Will I go?
He‘ll go. He won’t
go.
Will he 

go?

going to – future  
  • when you have already decided to do sth. in the future
  • what you think what will happen
I‘m going
to work.
I‘m not
going to work.
Am I

going
to work?

He‘s going
to work.
He‘s not
going to work.
Is he

going
to work?

I‘m going
to go.
I‘m not
going to go.
Am I

going to 

go?

He‘s going
to go.
He‘s not
going to go.
Is he

going to 

go?

Future Progressive or Future Continuous  
  • An action will be in progress at a certain time in the future. This action has begun before the certain time.
  • Something happens because it normally happens.
I‘ll be
working.
won’t be
working.
Will I be
working?
He‘ll be
working.
He won’t
be
working.
Will 

he be
working?

I‘ll be
going.
won’t be
going.
Will I be
going?
He‘ll be
going.
He won’t
be going.
Will he 

be
going?

Simple Future Perfect or Future Perfect Simple   sth. will already have happened before a certain time in the future I‘ll have
worked.
won’t
have
worked.
Will I 

have
worked?

He‘ll have
worked.
He won’t
have
worked.
Will he 

have
worked?

I‘ll have
gone.
won’t
have
gone.
Will I 

have
gone?

He‘ll have
gone.
He won’t
have
gone.
Will he 

have
gone?

Future Perfect Progressive or Future Perfect Continuous  
  • sth. will already have happened before a certain time in the future
  • emphasis: length of time of an action
I‘ll have

been 

working.

won’t
have been
working.
Will I 

have
been
working?

He‘ll have
been working.
He won’t
have been
working.
Will he 

have
been
working?

I‘ll have
been going.
won’t
have been
going.
Will I 

have
been
working?

He‘ll have
been going.
He won’t
have been
going.
Will he 

have
been
working?

Conditional Simple  
  • sth. that might happen
  • main clause in type II of the Conditional sentences
would
work.
wouldn’t
work.
Would I 

work?

He would
work.
He 

wouldn’t
work.

Would he 

work?

would go. wouldn’t
go.
Would 

go?

He would
go.
He 

wouldn’t
go.

Would 

he go?

Conditional Progressive or Conditional Continuous  
  • sth. that might happen
  • emphasis: length of time of an action
would 

be
working.

wouldn’t
be
working.
Would 

be
working?

He would

be
working.

He 

wouldn’t
be
working.

Would 

he be
working?

would be
going.
wouldn’t
be going.
Would I 

be
going?

He would

be 
going.

He 

wouldn’t
be going.

Would 

he be
going?

Conditional Perfect  
  • sth. that might have happened in the past (It’s too late now.)
  • main clause in type III of the if clauses
would

have
worked.

wouldn’t
have
worked.
Would I 

have
worked?

He would
have worked.
He 

wouldn’t
have
worked.

Would he 

have
worked?

would
have gone.
wouldn’t
have
gone.
Would I 

have
gone?

He would
have gone.
He 

wouldn’t
have
gone.

Would I 

have
gone?

Conditional Perfect Progressive or Conditional Perfect Continuous  
  • sth. that might have happened in the past (It’s too late now.)
  • emphasis: length of time of an action
I would
have been
working
I wouldn’t
have been
working.
Would I 

have
been
working?

He would
have been
going.
He 

wouldn’t
have 

been
going.

Would he 
have been
working?
would
have been
going.

wouldn’t
have 

been
going.

Would I 

have
been 

going?

He would
have been
going.
He 

wouldn’t
have 

been
going.

Would he 
have been
going?

*(infinitive + -ed) or (3rd column of table of irregular verbs)
We sometimes use Continuous instead of Progressive. Some signal words can be found in more tenses. We did not list signal words in the future tenses as there are no definite ones. Always remember what action is described.

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