Uses of Tenses with Examples | Tenses Exercises

The Simple Present is used :

  1. To express what is actually now taking place; as,

Here comes Ashok. See, how it rains]

  1. To express a habitual action; as,

He gets up early in the morning. [That is, he is in the habit of getting up, etc.].

He takes exercise every morning.

  1. To express universal truths; as,

The soul is immortal. The earth is round.

The path of duty is the way of glory.

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

  1. To express a future action, when the futurity is indicated by the context; as,

The school starts again on January 2nd.

The college reopens next week.

He sails for England next Monday.

We got to Delhi next Friday.

The Governor arrives tomorrow morning and opens the exhibition in the evening.

The Present Continuous is used to express an action going on at the time of speaking; as,

The boys are playing football. Sita is dancing.

NOTE: This Tense is sometimes used to mark an action that will happen in the future; as,

I am leaving for Delhi tomorrow.

She is being married next week.

The Present Perfect is used :

  1. To express an action that has just been completed; as,

The sun has set. The train has just arrived.

  1. To express a past action the results of which still continue; as,

I have lived in Mumbai for ten years. [It implies that the speaker is still living in Mumbai.]

We have known each other for the past ten years.

  1. To express a Future Perfect when such words as when, before, as soon as, till, after are used before it; as,

I shall go there after I have done my lessons.

I will attend to this business as soon as I have finished my letter [= as soon as I shall have finished].

The Present Perfect Continuous shows that the action that began in the past is continuing up to the present time; as,

I have been working for two hours.

NOTE: In the Present Perfect Continuous Tense, we use since to indicate point of time and for to indicate period of time; as,

Since morning, since last night, since Tuesday last since February last, since 1947, since eight o’clock, etc.

For a long time, for two days, for six months, for five years, etc.

Ali has been reading this book since January last.

We have been living here since 1947.

Sita has been singing since morning.

He has been suffering from fever since Wednesday last.

We have been waiting for you since eight o’clock.

The boys have been playing football for three hours.

She has been singing for half an hour.

Rama and Hari have been living in this town for the last ten years.

It has been raining for ten hours.

She has been staying with me for two weeks.

The Simple Past is used:

  1. To express that something was done or took place in past time; as,

I met him yesterday. He failed last year.

  1. To express a habitual action in the past; as

The Hindu widows burnt [= used to bum] themselves along with their husbands.

  1. To express an action actually going on at the time stated; as,

While they bathed [= were bathing], we fished [= were fishing].

The Past Continuous means that the action was still going on in the past time referred to; as,

When I called upon her, she was singing.

The Past Perfect is used to denote an action which had been completed at some point in the past time before another action was commenced;

First Action Completed (Past Perfect) Second Action Took Place (Simple Past)
The Train had Left (before) they reached the station
The Ship had Sunk (before) help could reach her
I had finished my work (when) Ali came to see me
The patient had died (before) the doctor came
The Rain had Stopped (when) she arrived
He had been Ill for two days (when) the doctor was sent for

The Past Perfect Continuous, ‘I had been writing for an hour when you came to see me,’ shows that the action of writing had continued for a certain time previous to the point of past time named.

She had been singing for two hours when you came.

The Simple Future denotes an action that is about to take place or an action that will take place in the future; as,

I shall see you tomorrow.

He will come here at six o’clock.

The Future Continuous denotes that an action going on at some point in future ‘.me; as,

She will be singing then.

The Future Perfect denotes that an action will be completed at some point of time in the future; as,

I shall have done my work before you come.

I shall have finished this exercise by ten o’clock.

You will have met your mother before I see you again.

Nobody will have taken anything from you when you go home this afternoon.

1 hope you will have washed your face before you come into the school again.

We shall all have written something in our notebooks by the time the school finishes.

The play will have begun when you get to the theatre.

We shall have reached the station before the train starts.

You will have heard this news already.

They will have spent all their money by then.

The Future Perfect Continuous, ‘I shall have been writing’, means that the action of writing, whether finished or unfinished, ‘will have been in progress for some time’.

We shall have been playing for three hours when you come here.

They will have been making preparations for the marriage for two months. I shall have been speaking to you for half an hour when this lesson ends. You will have been studying English for two years by the end of this year. Ashok will have been living in Jaipur for ten years by the end of this month.

Errors in the Uses of Tenses

The Simple Past is often used wrongly for the Present Perfect Tense;

Incorrect: I did not write the letter yet.

Correct: I have not written the letter yet.

Incorrect: I did not hear from her for a month.

Correct: I have not heard from her for a month. I lived in Chennai since 1952.

Incorrect: I have lived in Chennai since 1952.

The Present or Past Perfect is often used wrongly for the Simple Past, as,

Incorrect: Columbus has discovered America.

Correct: Columbus discovered America.

Incorrect: The Mughals have won the battle of Panipat.

Correct: The Mughals won the battle of Panipat.

Incorrect: The servant has not come when called.

Correct: The servant did not come when called.

The Present Perfect, since it denotes present time, cannot be connected with an adverb or any word that expresses past time generally or a definite point of past time; as,

Incorrect: I have written a letter to him yesterday.

Correct: I wrote a letter to him yesterday.

Incorrect: A new theatre has been started last Tuesday.

Correct: A new theatre was started last Tuesday.

Incorrect: I have finished my work last evening.

Correct: I finished my work last evening.

Incorrect: The old man has died of cold last night.

Correct: The old man died of cold last night.

Incorrect: A moment ago I have heard strange news.

Correct: A moment ago I heard strange news.

The Past Perfect is often used wrongly for the Simple Past, as,

Incorrect: I had written a letter to her yesterday.

Correct: I wrote a letter to her yesterday.

Incorrect: He had gone to Mumbai last week.

Correct: He went to Mumbai last week.

Incorrect: We had gone to the cinema last night.

Correct: We went to the cinema last night.

The Simple Past is often used wrongly for the Past Perfect-, as

Incorrect: The train left before we reached the station.

Correct: The train had left before we reached the station.

Incorrect: The patient died before the doctor arrived.

Correct: The patient had died before the doctor arrived.

Incorrect: I finished my work before he came to see me.

Correct: I had finished my work before he came to see me.

The Past Perfect or Perfect Continuous, and not the Simple Past or Past Continuous, is used to express something that continued up to a past time after beginning at a still earlier time; as,

Incorrect: He told me that she  was ill for six days.

Correct: He told me that she had been ill for six days.

Incorrect: He was fasting for six weeks when the doctor came.

Correct: He had been fasting for six weeks when the doctor came.

The Simple Future is often used wrongly for the Future Perfect; as,

Incorrect: He will reach home before the sun will set.

Correct: He will have reached home before the sun sets.

Incorrect: I shall leave this place by the time she will come.

Correct: I shall have left this place by the time she comes.

Exercise 1: Correct the following sentences :

  1. I lived in Kolkata since 1930.
  2. She died before her husband came.
  3. In olden times magicians were abusing their power.
  4. I have written a letter to her last Monday.
  5. I am reading Kalidasa for the last six days.
  6. We are working hard since last month.
  7. Mahatma Gandhi has written My Experiments with Truth.
  8. I was reading this book for six days before you arrived.
  9. When I finished my work, I shall take a rest.
  10. The guest had left last night.
  11. The rain has stopped yesterday.
  12. He had been born in 1938.
  13. He is suffering from fever since last night.
  14. Stephenson has invented the steam engine.
  15. He will reach home before the storm will come.
  16. I left Bihar before the earthquake occurred.
  17. She will reach the station before the train will go.
  18. The great reformer had died in 1980.
  19. I waited at home for her since 9 o’clock.
  20. She finished her dinner when I saw her.
  21. The servant has not answered when I called him.
  22. The exhibition has been over a week ago.
  23. I have seen my uncle last night.
  24. The new hotel has been opened last Sunday.
  25. He had gone to Chennai last week.

Exercise 2- Select the correct form of the Verb shown in brackets in each sentence and write it in the space opposite

She a.   went

       b.   has gone to Agra yesterday.

Exercise 3: Put the following mark (S) against the clause which correctly completes the sentence:

Exercise 4: Rewrite the sentence using correct form of verbs given in brackets.

  1. Cricket (play) in England for more than six hundred years now.
  2. They (not go) far yet.
  3. The first meet (hold) in Athens in 1896.
  4. I wish my men (come) quickly and find us.
  5. She (not visit) us since last Christmas.
  6. While he (cross) the road he (run) over by a speeding car.
  7. It (be) almost ten years since my brother (leave) for America.
  8. We (not see) her since we (leave) school.
  9. Her health (improve) greatly since she (go) to live in the country.
  10. Since her husband (die) she (be) very unhappy.
  11. It (rain) continuously since four o’clock this morning.
  12. She (go) out at eight o’clock, and (not yet return).
  13. We (come) to this house in 1975 and (live) here ever since.
  14. The train (leave) the station before I (reach) there.
  15. lam not at home now; I wish I (be).
  16. Mody (be) a hairdresser ever since her husband’s death.
  17. She (study) English for two years before she (come) to our school.
  18. Before she (know) what (happen) they (take) her brooch.
  19. While I (watch) the television she (cook) dinner in the kitchen.
  20. I only just (realise) what she (mean).
  21. By the time the brigade (arrive), the house (collapse).
  22. I (not meet) her since she (leave) this place two years ago.
  23. They (live) in Mumbai for ten years now.
  24. At the moment the baby (sleep) in the cradle.
  25. He (take) a bath when the telephone rang.
  26. I (tell) you several times that you should work hard.
  27. He (read) the newspaper when I came in.
  28. I (write) the letter before I went to school.
  29. Ever since I (leave) my home-town in 1975 I (live) in Delhi.
  30. Although the work (be) difficult, I (finish) it within the given time and (go) home.

Exercise 5: (Miscellaneous) Choose the correct form of the verb from those in brackets to -complete each sentence below:

  1. I shall telephone you when she_______ . (returns, returned, will return)
  2. We__________ our lunch half an hour ago. (finished, have finished, had finished)
  3. I___________ twenty next birthday, (am, shall be, would have been)
  4. The baby _____ all morning, (cries, is crying, has been crying)
  5. We______ English for two years, (learn, are learning, have been learning).
  6. I _________ a letter to her yesterday, (wrote, had written, have written)
  7. I _________ her for a long time, (know, am knowing, have known)
  8. He ___________ out ten minutes ago. (has gone, had gone, went)
  9. We thanked her for what she_______________ for us. (had done, would do, did)
  10. They _____________ here for the last ten years. (lived, are living, have been living)
  11. I _____________ his letter a week ago. (received, had received, have received).
  12. My uncle ______ for London tomorrow, (leaves, has left, will have been leaving)
  13. The train ______ before we reached the station, (left, had left, would leave)
  14. The train ______ before we reach the station, (left, has left, will have left)
  15. I ______ her since we met a year ago. (didn’t see, haven’t seen, hadn’t seen)
  16. I ______ of going to America. (think, am thinking, will think)
  17. They _______________ Since Four ‘O Clock (are playing, have been playing, played)
  18. He jumped off the bus while it_____________ . (moved, was moving, had moved)
  19. She _________ well last night.
  20. When he gets his degree, he______ at Oxford for Three years. (will have been studying, would have studied, had studied.

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