Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to give an introduction to English tenses. For this lesson, I'm going to give a short introduction to when to use each of the English tenses. I'm also going to share an example of what that tense looks like in a sentence or in a question. This is just a quick guide. If you want more information about any of these tenses, you can try searching the YouTube channel or our website for a video specifically about one of these tenses. I hope this is helpful for you.
Okay. Let's get started. The first group of tenses I want to look at is the present tense. For today's lesson, I've organized it into three categories; present, past, and future tenses. Let's begin with the present tense. In each category, I have four different tenses. I have simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous. You might know continuous as progressive. They mean the same thing. Continuous and progressive mean the same thing for this lesson.
Let's begin with the present simple tense. Present simple tense is a tense we use for general facts, for regular actions, and for schedules. This is stuff that doesn't change. Like, "He speaks English," for example. "She doesn't speak Spanish." That's a simple fact. For regular action, things you do every day or every week, for example. And schedule. That means like a bus or an airplane or maybe a car schedule, something that maintains a regular schedule. An example, two examples of using the present simple tense. First, "I work on Mondays." Here, "work" is my verb. "I work on Mondays." Simple present tense. A negative. "I don't eat lunch at two o'clock." These are simple present tense statements. In this case, they're just simple statements of fact, really.
Okay. Let's continue to the next one. The second tense is the present continuous tense. Present continuous tense, we use for continuing actions, and that means actions that are happening now. For example, I'm teaching, I'm standing, I'm speaking. Those are actions happening now. We use it for continuing actions now, like physical actions. We also use it for trends, things happening in your society right now, for example. Examples would be like, "That TV show is becoming popular," or, "The world is getting warmer," for example. These are things happening now also.
We can use it for one-time actions as well, and this relates a little bit to future tense, which I'm going to talk about later, too. But something happening just one time in the future, we can use the continuous form to describe that. For example, "I'm working this Saturday." Sometimes students ask, what's the difference? Why is it "I'm working this Saturday" and not "I work this Saturday"? Remember, we talked about the present simple tense. We use that for regular actions, for general facts. If you usually work on Saturdays, you should use the present simple tense. "I work on Saturdays." If, however, this Saturday is special and you don't usually work on Saturdays, you should use the continuous tense. "I'm working this Saturday." It sounds like that's not a typical thing for you. "I'm working this Saturday."
Okay. Let's go on to the third tense. The third tense is the present perfect tense. We use the present perfect tense for a general life experience or lack thereof. Lack thereof means no, no life experience, not having a life experience, something that you did in the past but not at a specific point in time. The specific point in time is not so important here, or maybe we don't know. Example, a negative example, "He has never been to Spain." In this case, no life experience of going to Spain is what this means. This is an example of present perfect tense. Here, we have, "he has." Remember, we need to attach "has" or "have" before our past participle verb form here. For more information about this tense, you can check the channel. There's more information there.
Let's continue on to the next tense now. The next tense is the present perfect continuous tense, present perfect continuous. We use this tense for actions that started in the past and continue to the present, something you started doing in the past, some point in the past. It's not always important when, but that action continues. You use this a lot to talk about your studies, for example. We use words like "for" and "since" and maybe "ago" with this as well. An example of this, "I've been studying English for two years." Here, we see, "I've been." This "I've" is the contracted, the reduced form of "I have." "I have been studying." This is the continuous or the progressive form.
In this case, I've used the word "for." I've used "for" because I'm using two years, which is a length of time. We can use "since." For example, "I've been studying English since 2016." We use "since" before a specific point in time. We can use "ago" as well. Usually, we pair it with "since." "I've been studying English since two years ago." You'll notice when we use "ago," however, we change from using, in my first example, 2016, to a length of time, "Since two years ago." There are a few different changes you need to make there. But you can check the other video on the channel for more information about that grammar point.
Okay. Let's move on to the second group for today, which is the past tense. Let's look at the four points in the past tense here. First one is the past simple or just simple past tense. Simple past tense is used for actions that started and finished in the past. For example, "I taught," simple present tense, "earlier." I used the past tense, "I taught," simple present tense, because the action started and finished in the past. Another example, "I worked all night." "Work" is my verb. I used simple past tense "worked" because the action started and finished in the past. Another example, a negative, "They didn't come. They didn't come to the party. They didn't come to the office." The action was in the past. It refers to something that did not happen in the past. There was no action in the past but it's over, it's finished. We use simple past tense to talk about these simple actions that started and finished in the past.
Okay. Let's go on to the past continuous tense then. Past continuous is for actions that were continuing in the past. This one is one we often use with a specific point in time along with it. Let's look at an example first. "We were listening to music. We were listening to music yesterday. Or, we were listening to music at 8:00 p.m." When were you listening to music? When was that action continuing? At 8:00 p.m. or yesterday. It's common to include a point in time with this grammar point.
Another example like, "I was doing something." Something "ing" form there. This is one that some people have questions about like, "Why should I use that? When should I use that?" It's typically used in response to someone's question like, "What were you doing last night?" for example. Or, "What were you doing this morning." You want to know someone's activities at a specific point in time. You can use this grammar point to respond to that question.
Okay. Let's move along to the past perfect tense, our next one. Past perfect tense is for actions that were completed or not completed at a nonspecific point in the past. This one is kind of difficult, and it's perhaps not used quite so much in everyday conversation. This is used a bit more in writing. This is a grammar point that's especially helpful when we want to show a timeline in our writing, to show that an action happened before another action in the past. We can use the past perfect tense. Here are a couple of examples. First one, "They hadn't departed yet." Here, "hadn't" is the reduced form of "had not." "They hadn't departed yet." And, "I had taken my lunch break."
We would use sentences like these if we're telling a story. We're telling a story about the past and we want to show that one action happened before another action. When we want to talk about the earlier action, so the thing that happened earlier like more in the past, we use the past perfect tense. Then we can use the simple past tense to explain the action that happened closer to the present. For example, "I had taken my lunch break when I saw the delivery man came," or something like that. You can see my second point there. That's kind of a strange example, but you see that my second point there it uses the simple past tense. "I saw the delivery man came." "I had taken my lunch break further in the past when I saw the delivery man came." That's simple past tense. This is probably more common in writing, but it is used in speaking as well, too. This is what we use a past perfect tense to do.
Okay. Let's move on then to another challenging point, past perfect continuous tense, past perfect continuous. These are sentences or questions for actions that started in the past and continued to like an unspecified point in the past. The action has finished as well. That's a key difference with the present perfect continuous. With present perfect continuous, the action is happening now still. That behavior still continues. Key point though with past perfect continuous is that the action started at some point in the past and then continued and finished as well, but at some unspecified points. Maybe we don't know exactly when the action finished, but it's done, it's complete.
Let's look at an example. "They had been waiting since 3:00 p.m." Here, "They had been waiting." This shows us that there was some waiting period. The waiting started at 3:00 p.m., and the waiting continued and continued and continued. We don't know when the waiting finished, but this grammar point shows us that the waiting has finished, were finished waiting. That's done. We wanted to talk only about this period of time the people were waiting in the past. This is the grammar point that we use to talk about things that were happening over a period of time in the past and then finished. This is something again we use when telling stories. We're showing a sequence of events, actually.
Okay. Let's move along then to the last group for today's lesson, the future tense. Let's start with the future simple tense. This is for actions that are planned or unplanned for the future. There are actually a lot of different things we can do to make the future simple tense. Some very common ways of making future simple are through using "will" and "won't" and "going to" and "not going to." And earlier in this lesson, I mentioned using the continuous tense, the present continuous tense, the "ing" form of a verb to make statements about the future also. There are many ways to make a simple future statement.
Let's look at a couple of examples. First, "I'll have a glass of wine." This uses "will," I'll. I'll is the reduced form of, "I will have a glass of wine." That's a future statement. Also, "He's going to cook dinner." In this one, I've used "going to" to express that. These are just simple things about planned, or perhaps unplanned, like, "He's not going to cook dinner" would be an unplanned action in the future, or something that's not going to happen in the future better.
Okay. Let's go on to the future continuous tense now. Future continuous tense, this is for actions you think will or will not be continuing in the future, something you think will be continuously happening in the future. Let's look at an example. "I'm not going to be working at company A." Here, you can see we have "going to." "I'm not going to," plus, we have a verb in the continuous tense. "I'm not going to be working at company A." Meaning, in other words, "I'm not going to have a job at company A," or, "I'm not going to continue my position at company A in the future." That's my thought now in the present about the future. At that time in the future, like in one year, for example, "I will not be working at that company," or, "I'm not going to be working at company A." That's the idea behind other future continuous tense.
Okay. Let's move along to the future perfect tense then. Future perfect tense refers to actions that you think will have started some point in the future. Remember, you're thinking in the present right now, but this grammar point is used to talk about something, something you imagine in the future that starts at some point and you think might be continuing into the future, maybe, something started and maybe continues. This is the idea here. Let's look at an example. "I will have lived in China for two years. I will have lived in China. Here, I'm using "will" to show it's a future tense statement, "I will," plus, "have lived." This is the same thing that we use for the present perfect tense that we talked about earlier, that past participle, plus "have" or "has," but we're attaching it to a future tense, "will." "I will have lived in China for two years."
When would we use this? If, for example, someone asks you a question about your future and they say like, "Where do you see yourself in 2020?" for example, or, "Where do you imagine you're going to live in 2020?" for example. You could say, "Oh, I will have lived in China for two years." Meaning, at that time in 2020, I will have lived in China for two years. That means not now but in the future. "At that point in time in the future, I will have started living in China and that will have continued for two years." That's what that means. That's a guess about the future time period, that something will have continued in the future. Again, quite a challenge in grammar point but something definitely to look into. Again, not used perhaps as much as the present perfect tense, but great for storytelling and for imagining your future, too.
Okay. Let's move on to the last point for today's lesson, the future perfect continuous tense, future perfect continuous. This is a tense that you use similar to the last one, but for actions, you think will or won't have started and will be continuing, something that's going to have started again in the future, something started, and the action will have continued into the future. Example, "I won't have been eating meat for three months." For this one, let's imagine that you decided last month to stop eating meat. That's fine, actually. For this for this sentence, that's okay. You made a decision last month to stop eating meat. Then someone asks you about your progress like, "How's it going?" Like, "What are you going to do next month?"
And you can say to yourself, "Hmm. Well, at that point next month, by next month in the future," you can use this sentence, "I won't," won't negative will not, "I won't have been eating meat for three months." That means from the point in time I started it in the past until this point in the future, so not present but into the future, this entire time, my behavior not eating meat, that's going to have continued. You're making a guess about the future. At this future point in time, that behavior I started in the past will have continued and continued and continued. And at this point, it will be three months, three months total for that behavior. We use this to talk about something, some future thing that will have continued, or will be continuing into the future. "Will have continued," meaning, something that started in the past and continues into the future, or will be continuing, meaning, it's still going into the future as well. There are a couple of very, very subtle grammar points to consider there, too.
Those are a couple of maybe tough grammar points, but there are really good for storytelling and for talking about your future as well. That's everything for this lesson. I hope that it was useful for you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below the video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye.