English verb tenses

English Grammar – The tenses

One sentence is put into different tenses. You can see how the meaning changes.

The words in green are signal words. They tell you which tense you have to use.

Tense Example Explanation
Simple Present I play football every week. Here you want to say that it happens regularly.
Present Progressive I’m playing football now. Here you want to say that it is happening at the moment.
Simple Past I played footballyesterday. You did it yesterday, it happened in the past.
Past Progressive I was playing football the whole evening. You were doing it in the past. It’s not sure whether the action was finished or not.
Present Perfect I have just played football. You have just finished it. So it has a connection to the present. Maybe your clothes are dirty.
Present Perfect Progressive I have been playingfootball for 2 hours. You want to say how long you have been doing it. (You started in the past and it continues up to the present.
Past Perfect I had played football before Susan came. The two actions are related to each other: you had finished to play football and after that the girl arrived.
Past Perfect Progressive I had been playing football for two hours when Susan came. Here you want to point out how long you had been doing it before the girl came.
will-future I will play football next week. This is a prediction, you can probably do something else.
going to-future I’m going to play football this afternoon. This is a plan you’ve made.
Future Progressive I will be playing football next Sunday. You do it every Sunday (as usual)
Future Perfect I will have played football by tomorrow. You will have done it before tomorrow.
I would play football. You’ll probably do it.
I would be playingfootball. You’ll probably do it. Here you concentrate more on the progress of the action.
I would have playedfootball. You’ll probably have finished playing football at a special time in the future. Here you concentrate on the fact (football).
I would have been playing football. You’ll probably have finished playing football at a special time in the future. Here you concentrate on the progress of playing (football).

Negations of the sentences

Tense Example
Simple Present I do not play football every week.
I don’t play football every week.
Present Progressive I am not playing football now.
I’m not playing football now.
Simple Past I did not play football yesterday.
I didn’t play football yesterday.
Past Progressive I was not playing football yesterday.
I wasn’t playing football yesterday.
Present Perfect I have not played football.
I haven’t played football.
I’ve not played football.
Present Perfect Progressive I have not been playing football.
I haven’t been playing football.
I’ve not been playing football.
Past Perfect I had not played football.
I hadn’t played football.
I’d not played football.
Past Perfect Progressive I had not been playing football.
I hadn’t been playing football.
I’d not been playing football.
will-future I will/shall not play football next week.
I won’t play football next week.
going to-future I am not going to play football this afternoon.
I’m not going to play football this afternoon.
Future Progressive I will/shall not be playing football.
I won’t be playing football.
Future Perfect I will/shall not have played football.
I won’t have played football.
Conditional Simple I would not play football.
I’d not play football.
Conditional Progressive I would not be playing football.
I wouldn’t be playing football.
I’d not be playing football.
Conditional Perfect I would not have played football.
I wouldn’t have played football.
I’d not have played football.
Conditional Perfect Progressive I would not have been playing football.
I wouldn’t have been playing football.
I’d not have been playing football.


Tense Example
Simple Present Do you play football?
Present Progressive Are you playing football?
Simple Past Did you play football?
Past Progressive Were you playing football?
Present Perfect Have you played football?
Present Perfect Progressive Have you been playing football?
Past Perfect Had you played football?
Past Perfect Progressive Had you been playing football?
will-future Will you play football?
going to-future Are you going to play football?
Future Progressive Will you be playing football?
Future Perfect Will you have played football?
Conditional Simple Would you play football?
Conditional Progressive Would you be playing football?
Conditional Perfect Would you have played football?
Conditional Perfect Progressive Would you have been playing football?

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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