Summary Charts of English Tenses

Сводные таблицы английских времен

Chart 1. Tenses in the active voice

Simple present Present continuous Present perfect Present perfect continuous

Meaning 1: Habitual, regular action in the present.

Time expressions: usually; every day; often; sometimes; rarely; never.

Examples: I usually work till seven o'clock. I often talk to him on the phone. He visits them sometimes.

Meaning 2: Stating a fact, general truth, state or condition.

Examples: He lives in Moscow and works at a bank. He plays the piano quite well. Her house is very small. The sun rises in the east.

Meaning 1: The action is going on right now.

Time expressions: now; right now; at the moment.

Examples: You are reading this material now. I'm writing a letter at the moment. Look! Anton is playing the piano.

Meaning 2: The action is going on at the present period of time (but not at the moment of speaking).

Time expressions: now; at present; today; this year.

Examples: She is writing a new novel now. He is studying German this year.

Meaning 1: The action has just ended.

Time expressions: already; just; yet.

Examples: He has already done it. I have just seen him.

Meaning 2: Reporting how things have developed by now.

Time expressions: by now; so far; never; ever; several times.

Examples: So far, he has read five books. He has never been there.

Meaning 3: The action has lasted for some time by now.

Time expressions: for a year; since; lately.

Example: He has lived here since 1995.

Meaning 1: The action has lasted for some time by now and is still going on.

Time expressions: for an hour; for a week; for five years; all day; since.

Examples: He has been sleeping for two hours already. She has been working as a teacher since she graduated from college. How long have you been waiting here?

Meaning 2: The action has been going on lately.

Examples: All of them have been working very hard lately. I have been thinking about starting my own business.

Note: Simple present can replace the simple future with the meaning "according to schedule, timetable".

Examples: The ship arrives next week. He works tomorrow.

Note: Present continuous can replace the simple future with the meaning "preplanned action".

Examples: I'm going to leave tomorrow. I am leaving tomorrow.

Note: Present perfect may replace the present perfect continuous for the action that has lasted for some time by now.

Example: He has worked in this company for ten years.

Note: Present perfect continuous in Meaning 2 is often used without time expressions.

Example: It has been raining very hard, and the ground is still wet.

Note: Simple present is used instead of the present continuous with stative verbs.

Examples: I see a little boy now. I understand what you mean.

Note: Stative verbs "know, understand, remember, like, love, hate, want, see, hear, seem, look", etc., are not used in the continuous tenses.

Note: Present perfect is used instead of the present perfect continuous with stative verbs.

Examples: She has known them for six years. She has loved him all her life.

Note: Stative verbs "know, understand, remember, like, love, hate, want, see, hear, seem, look", etc., are not used in the continuous tenses.

Simple past Past continuous Past perfect Past perfect continuous

Meaning: The action happened (started and ended) in the past.

Time expressions: yesterday; last week; last year; in 1995; in 2009; two hours ago; four years ago.

Examples: I saw him an hour ago. He came back last Friday. She went to the theater yesterday. They visited London in 2009.

Meaning: The action was going on (1) when another past action happened or (2) at some point of time in the past.

Time expressions: while; when; at five o'clock yesterday.

Examples: When he came in, I was reading a letter. We were watching TV at three o'clock yesterday.

Meaning: The action happened before another past action or before some point of time in the past.

Time expressions: by the time; before; after; by 1998; by yesterday; by last Sunday.

Examples: By the time he returned, she had already left. All residents had left the village by last week.

Meaning: The action lasted for some time before another past action or before some point of time in the past.

Time expressions: by the time; before; after; by yesterday; by 2005; for two hours; for a long time.

Examples: By the time he returned, I had been working for six hours. By 2006, he had been living there for twenty years.

Note: Use the simple past for completed past actions, including past actions that lasted for some time or happened one after another.

Example: He sold cars for two years, and then he quit his job and began to write novels.

Note: Use the simple past instead of the past continuous with stative verbs.

Example: She looked quite good when I visited her yesterday.

Note: Past perfect may replace the past perfect continuous for the action that lasted for some time before another action in the past.

Example: By the time he returned, I had worked for six hours.

Note: Use the past perfect instead of the past perfect continuous with stative verbs.

Example: She had known him for five years by the time they got married.

Simple future Future continuous Future perfect Future perfect continuous

Meaning: The action will happen in the future.

Time expressions: tomorrow; in a few days; next week; in 2025; in the future.

Examples: I think he will return next week. I will probably see him in a few days. We'll be home after eight.

Meaning: The action will be going on (1) when another future action happens or (2) at some point of time in the future.

Time expressions: at three tomorrow; at this time next year; when.

Examples: He'll be sleeping at two o'clock. When you come to the library, I'll be sitting by the central window.

Meaning: The action will happen before another future action or before some point of time in the future.

Time expressions: by the time; by 2035; by tomorrow; before.

Examples: By the time I get there, she will have left. By 2050, scientists will have found the cure for cancer.

Meaning: The action will last for some time before another future action or before some point of time in the future.

Time expressions: by the time; by 2030; before; for two hours.

Examples: By the time he returns, I will have been working for nine hours. By 2025, he will have been living here for fifty years.

Chart 2. Tenses in the passive voice

Simple present Present continuous Present perfect Present perfect continuous

Meaning 1: Habitual, regular action in the present.

Time expressions: usually; every day; often; sometimes; rarely.

Examples: Mail is usually delivered at eight o'clock. This blog is updated every day.

Meaning 2: Stating a fact, general truth, state or condition.

Examples: English is spoken in many countries. Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen.

Meaning: The action is going on now.

Time expressions: now; right now; at the moment.

Examples: He is being examined by the doctor at the moment. The report is being typed right now.

Meaning 1: The action has just ended.

Time expressions: already; just; yet.

Examples: The letter has already been sent. We have just been informed of his arrival.

Meaning 2: Reporting how things have developed by now.

Time expressions: by now; so far; never; ever; several times; since; lately.

Examples: So far, ten workers have been fired. He has never been invited to their house before.

Simple past Past continuous Past perfect Past perfect continuous

Meaning: The action happened in the past.

Time expressions: yesterday; last week; last year; in 1996; in 2010; two hours ago.

Examples: His house was built a year ago. She was offered a good job last week. The telephone was invented by Alexander Bell.

Meaning: The action was going on (1) when another past action happened or (2) at some point of time in the past.

Time expressions: while; when; at five o'clock yesterday.

Examples: When I came to the hospital, Tom was being examined by the doctor.

Meaning: The action happened before another past action or before some point of time in the past.

Time expressions: by the time; before; after; by 1990; by yesterday; by last week.

Examples: By the time I returned, the work on the project had been finished. By 1995, all apartments in the new building had been sold.

Simple future Future continuous Future perfect Future perfect continuous

Meaning: The action will happen in the future.

Time expressions: tomorrow; in a few days; next week; in 2025; in the future.

Examples: The film will be released in a month. This work will be done tomorrow.

Meaning: The action will happen before another future action or before some point of time in the future.

Time expressions: by the time; by 2035; by tomorrow; before.

Examples: By the time you return, the report will have been typed. By 2050 the cure for cancer will have been found.