English Tenses : Formation et Cours Anglais à Lyon

Simple Present

It is used for general statements of facts or to express habitual or everyday activity.


  1. a) Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen.
  2. b) I study for two hours every night.


We use (s) to the verb if the subject of the sentence is singular.

ex. The boy plays basketball everyday. 

ex. The boys play basketball everyday. 

Present Progressive

It is used to express an activity that is in progress at the moment of speaking. Often the activity is of a general nature: something generally in progress this week, this month, this year.


  1. a) John is sleeping right now.
  2. b) I am taking five courses this semester.


We use one of the forms of verb (be) before the action verb, and we add –ing to the verb. 

ex. I am watching TV now.

ex. She is reading a book. 

ex. They are playing basketball. 

Non-progressive Verbs:

Some verbs are non-progressive: they are not used in any of the progressive tenses. These verbs describe states (i.e. conditions that exist); they do not describe activities that are in progress.

 Common Non-progressive Verbs

believe                  imagine            want                feel                  seem                taste                 taste

love                      mind                care                  envy                cost                  hear                 hear

possess                 own                 have                 own                 appear              see                   see

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Simple Past

It indicates that an activity or situation began and ended at a particular time in the past.


He lived in Paris for ten years, but now he is living in Rome.


We add (ed) to the regular verb. 

ex. They played basketball yesterday. 

If the verb is one of the irregular verbs, we use the second form of the verb in the table of irregular verbs.  

ex. We went to the movie last week. 

Past Progressive

It indicates continuing action, something that was happening, going on, at some point in the past. This tense is formed with the helping “to be” verb, in the past tense, plus the present participle of the verb (with an -ing ending).


I was riding my bike all day yesterday.


We use the past form of verb (be) before the verb, and then we add -ing to the verb. 

ex. I was watching TV.

ex. They were playing basketball. 

The past progressive indicates a limited duration of time and is thus a convenient way to indicate that something took place (in the simple past) while something else was happening:


Carlos lost his watch while he was running.


The past progressive can express incomplete action.


I was sleeping on the couch when Bertie smashed through the door.

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The present perfect expresses the idea that something happened (or never happened) before now, at an unspecified time in the past.


They have moved into a new apartment.

The present perfect also, when used with for or since, expresses a situation that began in the past and continues to the present.


  1. a) I have been here since seven o’clock.
  2. b) She has known him for many years.


We use the helping verb (have) before the main verb. The main verb must be in the past participle form. 

ex. The boy has finished his homework.

ex. The boys have finished their homework. 

In the following quiz, you have to distinguish between the present perfect and the past simple. When doing the quiz, remember the following:

a. We use a clear reference to the past with the past simple, but we do not use a reference to the past with the present perfect.

Ex. I have read a book. Present Perfect

ex. I read a book last week. Past Simple

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The past perfect is used to express an activity that was completed before another activity or time in the past.


  1. My parents ate.
  2. Then I got home. 

The action that happened first is in the past perfect, and the one that happened next is in the past simple. 

My parents had already eaten by the time I got home.

However, if either before or after is used in the sentence, the past perfect is often not necessary because the time relationship is already clear. The simple past may be used.


  1. a) After the guests had left, I went to bed.
  2. b) After the guests left, I went to bed.

In the following quiz, use either the past perfect or the simple past of the verbs in parentheses.

remember, the past perfect is the action that chronologically happened first. 

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Future Perfect

 The future perfect expresses an activity that will be completed before another time or event in the future.


Will + Have + Past Participle


I will have finished my homework by the time I go out on a date tonight.

In the following quiz, you have to pay attention to the fact that an action in the future must be done before a specific time. 

We usually use the expression ‘by …….’ 

* You have to use the simple present and the future perfect tin the same sentence. 

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