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Free Grammar HelpWordsEnglish Verb Use Examples

Verb Rules

Here is a list of verb tenses and the different ways that the verb tenses can be used to express the time frame and relationship of the action.

Simple Present verb tense

How used

as a statement

I buy computers.

as a negative

I do not buy computers.

as a question

Do you buy computers?

When used

Habits

I buy CDs every day.

He buys CDs after he gets paid.

Something that happens regularly

He always buys clothing on weekends.

I go to Mexico at Spring Break.

Something that is always true

Paris is the capital of France.

Santa Claus lives at the North Pole.

Future time markers (usually for schedules)

The plane leaves at 7:35.

Santa Claus comes at Christmas.

After 'when' to form a time clause

I edit essays when requested.

Santa Claus leaves a lump of coal when you are a bad boy.


Present Progressive verb tense

How used

as a statement

I am editing.

as a negative

I am not editing.

as a question

Are you editing?

When used

Temporary action happening now

I am editing as I talk to you.

Something that is on-going

I am editing essays at the school board.

With a future time marker

I am quitting tomorrow morning to go travelling.


Past verb tense

How used

as a statement

I edited.

as a negative

I did not edit.

as a question

Did you edit?

When used

An action started and completed in the past.

I edited last Tuesday.


Past Progressive verb tense

How used

as a statement

I was editing.

as a negative

I was not editing.

as a question

Were you editing?

When used

Something happening at a specific time in the past

I was editing when the email arrived.

Something happening at the same time as something else.

I was editing and talking on the phone.


Future verb tense

How used

as a statement

I will edit.

I am going to edit.

as a negative

I will not edit.

I am not going to edit.

as a question

Will you edit?

Are you going to edit?

When used

An action that will happen in the future

I will edit next Tuesday.

I am going to edit next Tuesday.

Making a prediction.

He will edit again.

He is going to edit again.

Expressing commitment to achieve a goal.

I will not edit again.

I am not going to edit again.

Making a request of another person.

Will you edit with me?

Making a future intention.

I will not edit again.

I am going to lose 20 pounds by Christmas so I can go to Hawaii and wear my bikini.


Future Progressive verb tense

How used

as a statement

I will be editing

I am going to be editing

as a negative

I will not be editing

I am not going to be editing

as a question

Will you be editing?

Are you going to be editing?

When used

An action happening at a specific time in the future

I will be tanning on the beach at noon tomorrow.

I am going to be in Hawaii next Friday.

An action being interrupted by another action in the future

I will be celebrating when you get here on Wednesday.

I am going to be editing when you get home.

Two actions happening at the same time in the future

I will be editing while she is driving.


Past Perfect Progressive verb tense

How used

as a statement

I had been editing.

as a negative

I had not been editing.

as a question

Had you been editing?

When used

Something that happened regularly for a specific time period

I had been editing for 20 years when I met Bill.


Future Perfect verb tense

How used

as a statement

I will have edited.

as a negative

I will not have edited.

as a question

Will you have edited?

When used

Action completed at a specific time in the future (may or may not have begun)

I will have travelled to Hawaii by the time Mom finds out.

I am going to ride by bicycle to California by the time he arrives.

Action determined to be completed through logic

He will have arrived in Tahiti by now.


Future Perfect Progressive verb tense

How used

as a statement

I will have been editing.

as a negative

I will not have been editing.

as a question

Will you have been editing?

When used

Continuous or repeated action looked back from some time in the future

I will have been cooking for two hours by the time my mother-in-law arrives.


Present Perfect Progressive verb tense

How used

as a statement

I have been editing.

as a negative

I have not been editing.

as a question

Have you been editing?

When used

Action is continuous or repeated before the present, but related to it.

Action may or may not have been completed at the present.

As an explanation

I have a sun tan because I have been in Hawaii.

To account for a period of time

I am late because I have been meditating.

For new habits

I have been editing a lot lately.


Past Perfect verb tense

How used

as a statement

I had edited.

as a negative

I had not edited.

as a question

Had you edited?

When used

Action that happened before a specific time in the past,but has some relationship to it.

I had rested for two weeks when my old buddy called me.

Used to express sequence of events

It was 20 years before I went to Jamaica.

To show something depends on a past action

Although I had travelled to Europe I still hadn't gone to Africa.


Present Perfect verb tense

How used

as a statement

I have edited.

as a negative

I have not edited.

as a question

Have you edited?

When used

At an unspecified time in the past

I have travelled to Borneo, Suriname and Antarctica.

Action started in the past and continued to be true in the present

I have travelled by air since I was 19.

Repeated, completed action in the past which may or may not continue to be true into the future

I have gone to Hawaii at Christmas since 1993.