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Capítulo 1:

 Verb tenses. Tiempos verbales en inglés

1. Verb  tenses

English has 12 verb tenses. 

The action of the verb can be in the past, present or future

Each tense has its own formula and structure and word clues to help identify what kind of action is occurring.

Simple tenses occur either in a single moment, or as a repeated, habitual action. 

The simple past is formed by changing the verb in one of these two ways: either adding ‘ed’ to the end or using the past form of the verb.

A continuous or progressive tense (often referred to as the gerund) happens over a period of time.  This tense is always formed with a form of the verb ‘to be’, the main verb and the ending ‘-ing’.  Thus the formula could be written like this: (subject) + (be) + (main verb) + -ing.

The perfect tense is used to compare actions or when the time of the action is not clear.  This tense is always formed with the verb ‘have’ and a special part of the main verb in the past called the ‘past participle’. The formula would be: (subject) + (have) + (past participle of the main verb).

The perfect continuous or progressive tense is when we are thinking of an action that has happened over time in the past, before another action, or an action that begins in the past and continues into the present or future.  It is always formed by combining the formulas of the continuous and perfect tenses: (subject) + (have) + been + -ing.

If time was a line, then all the tenses would look something like this:


Have a look at the chart below to help you.


Activity 1
Identify what tense each sentence belongs to.

1.     I have been working all day.

2.     I went to the supermarket.

3.     I like making cakes.

4.     I have been to Scotland many times.

5.     I will have been studying for five years when I finish my degree.

6.     I had studied French before I went to Paris.

7.     I will go to the beach on Friday.

8.     I eat vegetables every day.

9.     I will have been to ten more cities by the time I leave Europe.

10.  I had been running for three kilometres when I had an accident.

11.  I will be cooking dinner at this time tomorrow.

12.  I was eating dinner when he arrived.


Activity 2
Make sentences using the following words in the tense given.

1.     I/be/walk/park (past continuous)

2.     We/arrive/last night (past simple)

3.     He/have/cook/three hours/when/she/come (past perfect continuous/past simple)

4.     We/be/watch/TV /when he/knock/on/the door (past continuous/past simple)

5.     I/be/Switzerland/next week (simple future)

6.     She/training/for five years before the next Olympic games (future perfect progressive)

7.     I/study/English/next year (Future continuous)


Activity 3
Fill in the gaps with the correct form of the tense.

1.  Look it’s____________ (snow)! It will be a white Christmas this year.

2.  I__________ (love) horses; they are such beautiful animals.

3. I will be___________ (have) dinner with my mum tomorrow.

4. Harold__________ (hate) avocadoes when he was a child.

5. I will have been_________ (live) in Barcelona for three years in December.

6. I was___________ (read) the paper when she___________ (arrive).

7. I have been_________ (live) here for three months.

8. I’ll_________ (buy) some more milk at the supermarket.

9. I had been________ (live) there for a year.

10. Shelly__________ (like) chocolate, so I’m__________ (make) her a cake for her birthday.


2. Irregular Verbs

Some of the verbs in the Simple past do not take ‘ed’.  These verbs have an irregular form.While some of these verbs follow similar patterns, the best way to learn them is through practice and repetition.


(This list is for guidance only, taken from “Grammar for First Certificate” Cambridge University Press 2008)

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