Time and Tense

Tense denotes the time of performing a verb. Yesterday – Past (time), Today – Present (time), Tomorrow – Future (time).

There are three types of Tense: Present, Past and Future.

Each of these three tenses can be further divided into four parts: Indefinite, Continuous, Perfect, and Perfect Continuous.

Time and Tense

PRESENT INDEFINITE TENSE


Present Indefinite Tense denotes an action in the present form, habitual truth, historical truth, or eternal truth (universal truth). -s/-es is added to the Verb if the Subject is Third Person Singular Number.

PATTERN: Subject + Verb (verb + '-s'/'-es')
  • I read in class IX.
  • He reads in class X.
  • We read in class IX.
  • They read in class X.

ETERNAL TRUTH – The earth moves around the sun.
HABITUAL TRUTH – Reba gets up early in the morning.
HISTORICAL TRUTH – Raja Rammohun Roy is the pioneer of modern India.

SIMPLE PRESENT WITH MODALS

  • She can sing well.
  • You may go home now.
  • He dare not do this.
  • He need not go there.
  • You must do the work.

PRESENT CONTINUOUS TENSE


Present Continuous Tense is used when an action is continued.

PATTERN: Subject + am/is/are + (verb + ing)
  • I am going to school.
  • We are going to school.
  • You are going to school.
  • He is going to school.
  • They are going to school.
NOTE: Present Continuous Tense is also used when an action is going to be continued in near future. 
  • I am going to Delhi tonight.
  • My uncle is arriving here tomorrow.
The following verbs are not normally used in the continuous form:

see, hear, smell, notice, recognize, appear, look, seem, want, wish, feel, like, love, hate, hope, refuse, prefer, think, suppose, believe, agree, know, understand.

  • I see a nice bird. [I am seeing – Wrong]
  • I feel his pulse. [I am feeling – Wrong]

PRESENT PERFECT TENSE


Present Perfect Tense is used when the work has been done just now but its effect lasts.

PATTERN: Subject + has/have + (Past Participle of Verb)
  • I have done the homework.
  • We have done the homework.
  • You have done the homework.
  • He has done the homework.
  • They have done the homework.
NOTE: Present Perfect Tense is never used with adverbs of past time.

I received your letter yesterday. [I have received your letter yesterday. – Wrong]


PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS TENSE


Present Perfect Continuous Tense is used when the doer has been doing the work till now. Here the period of time or point of time is mentioned.

PATTERN: Subject + has been/have been + (verb + ing)

PERIOD OF TIME

  • I have been doing this work all day long.
  • We have been living here for six months.
  • He has been reading in this school for four years.
  • They have been looking for a flat for a year.

POINT OF TIME

  • It has been raining since Monday last.
  • [Or] It has been raining since Monday last.
NOTE: Both since and from denoting a point of time, not a space or period. But since is preceded by a verb in some perfect tense, while from can be used with any form of tense.

PAST INDEFINITE TENSE


Past Indefinite Tense is used when the work was done in the past.

PATTERN: Subject + Past form of Verb
  • I did the homework.
  • We did the homework.
  • You did the homework.
  • They did the homework.

SIMPLE PAST WITH MODALS

If simple past tense would, could, might— this is the main form of the main verb with the modal.

PATTERN: Subject + Modal + Present form of Main Verb
  • He would go to school daily.
  • He could write good letters.
  • She might poss the exam.

PAST CONTINUOUS TENSE


Past Continuous Tense is used when the work was continued for a period in the past.

PATTERN: Subject + was/were + (verb + ing)
  • I was doing the work.
  • We were doing the work.
  • You were doing the work.
  • He was doing the work
  • They were doing the work.

PAST PERFECT TENSE


Past Perfect Tense is used in the former action between two actions of the past. These two clauses of action are joined by before or after.

PATTERN: Subject + had + (Past Participle of Verb)
  • They had gone before he came.
  • We had entered the class before the teacher came.
  • The patient had died before the doctor came. [Or] The doctor came after the patient had died.
  • The doctor had come before the patient died. [Or] The patient died after the doctor had come.
NOTE: Past Perfect Tense is used before 'Before' and after 'After' and Past Indefinite Tense is used in the other.
'when' in Past Perfect Tense: I had done my exercise when my friend came to see me.

PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS TENSE


Past Perfect Continuous Tense is used when the doer had been doing the work before another work in the past. It is also used to denote an action that had stopped after continuing for some time.

PATTERN: Subject + had been + (verb + ing)
  • I had been working when he came.
  • It had been raining all night.

FUTURE INDEFINITE TENSE


Future Indefinite Tense is used when the doer will do the work in the future.

PATTERN: Subject + shall/will + Verb
  • I shall do the work.
  • We shall do the work.
  • You will do the work.
  • He will do the work.
  • They will do the work.

USE OF ‘GOING TO’ + VERB

  • To predict the immediate future: It is going to rain soon.
  • To suggest intentions: I am going to resign from the post.
  • For future planning: They are going to start a business.

FUTURE CONTINUOUS TENSE


Future Continuous Tense is used when the doer will be doing the work for some time.

PATTERN: Subject + shall be/will be+ (verb + ing)
  • I shall be doing the work.
  • We shall be doing the work.
  • You will be doing the work.
  • They will be waiting for you outside.

FUTURE PERFECT TENSE


Future Perfect Tense is used when the doer will have done the work before another work is performed. Sometimes the later work is implied.

PATTERN: Subject + shall have/will have + (Past Participle of the verb)
  • Perhaps mother will have prepared our breakfast.
  • I shall have finished the work before my father comes.
NOTE: The former work in the future is expressed in Future Perfect Tense and the later work is expressed in Simple Present Tense. 

FUTURE PERFECT CONTINUOUS TENSE


Future Perfect Continuous Tense is used when the doer will have been doing the work in the future before another work is performed. The later work is expressed in Simple Present Tense. The use of this tense is very rare.

PATTERN: Subject + shall have been/will have been + (verb+ing)
  • He will have been going to school by this time.
  • I shall have been doing the work before my father comes.

TABLE OF TENSES.

TenseIndefiniteContinuousPerfectPerfect Continuous
PresentI do.I am doing.I have done.I have been doing.
PastI did.I was doing.I had done.I had been doing.
FutureI shall do.I shall be doing.I shall have done.I shall have been doing.

SEQUENCE OF TENSES


The sequence of tenses is the principle of using the Tenses of the Subordinate Clauses in accordance with the Principal Clause. The sequence of Tenses applies to Nominal and Adverbial Clauses. It has no concern with the Relative Clauses.

RULES OF THE SEQUENCE OF TENSES

RULE 1: If the Verb of Principal Clause is in Present Tense or Future Tense, then Verb of Subordinate clause can be in any Tense according to its meaning.
  • The farmer says that he is busy. [Present + Present]
  • [Or] The farmer says that he was busy. [Present + Past]
  • [Or] The farmer says that he will be busy. [Present + Future]
  • [Or] The farmer will say that he will be busy. [Future + Future]
RULE 2: If the verb of Principal Clause is in Past Tense then the Verb of Subordinate Clause is usually in Simple Past or Past Perfect Tense.
  • He saw that the clock had stopped. [Past + Past Perfect]
  • I took care so that he should follow me. [Past + Past]
  • He said that he could not reach the station in time. [Past + Past]
  • She worked hard so that she might succeed. [Past + Past]
  • I caught the thief when he was about to turn. [Past + Past]
RULE 3: If the statement is habitual truth, historical truth or eternal truth, then the Tense does not change.
  • Bimal said that he walks for an hour every morning. [Habitual truth]
  • I learnt from history that Netaji is a great hero. [Historical truth]
  • The teacher said that the sun rises in the east. [Eternal truth or Universal truth]
  • He said that honesty is the best policy. [Eternal truth or Universal truth]
RULE 4: When an adverbial clause is joined by 'than', then it can be used in any tense according to meaning.
  • I like you better than she likes you.
  • I like you better than she liked you.
  • I like you better than she would like you.

TENSES EXAMPLES


Fill in the blanks with correct form of the Verbs given within brackets:

When I………………(return) from school, mother told me that my friend, Bibhas………………(wait) for me for about an hour. I wanted to rush upstairs to………………..(meet) him. But mother said, “You needn’t worry. He……………….(watch) the cricket match on TV. I………………..(give) him tea and snacks also. So, change your clothes and take some tiffin. He………………..(wait) so long and can wait a little longer.”

Ans. returned, was waiting, meet, is watching, have given, has waited.


TENSES EXERCISES


Fill in the blanks with the correct forms of tense of the verbs given in the brackets:

  • The sun………………..(give) us light
  • He always………………..(buy) lottery tickets but never………………….(win) any prize.
  • Are you……………….(go) to school now?
  • Have you …………………..(finish) your homework?
  • I have…………………..(know) him for several years.
  • I………………………(get) your letter just now.
  • I………………………(get) your letter last Sunday.
  • She……………………..(not buy) anything from the shopkeeper.
  • I………………………..(wash) my hands when the telephone rang.
  • If you……………………..(not pay) me today, (go) to the court.

Complete the following sentences with the correct forms of verbs given within the brackets :

While I…………..(walk) back home yesterday, someone…………..(snatch) the bag from my hand and…………..(run) away. The police……………(not catch) him yet. I……………..(wonder) how such things……………(happen) nowadays.

Every particle of a matter……………(attract) or……………(pull) every other particle. That…………….(be) the law of gravitation. The sun………………(attract) the earth and the earth in turn………………..(attract) the moon.

We……………..(expect) him here yesterday. He…………….(not come) till today. No one……………(know) what……………(happen) to him. Perhaps he………………..(reach) here tomorrow. You………………..(see) him then.

One evening Mr. Bose………………(drive) his car along the Eastern Metropolitan By-pass. He……………….(come) from the bank from where he…………………(draw) Rs. 10,000 which he…………………(put) in his briefcase. At a lonely part of the road he………………..(see) a man in tattered clothes……………………(Walk) absent-mindedly right through the middle of the road. Suddenly he……………………….(fall upon) him.


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