English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What are the perfect tenses? (with examples)

What are the perfect tenses? (with examples)

The perfect tense is a category of verb tense used to describe completed actions. It covers the past perfect tense, the present perfect tense, and the future perfect tense. Sometimes it is called the full time.

Examples of verbs in the perfect tense

These are some examples of verbs in the perfect tense:

The past perfect

  • I was gone.
  • He had seen.

The simple past perfect tense

  • I’m gone.
  • He has seen it.

The perfect future

  • I’ll be gone.
  • He will have seen.

Forming the Perfect Tenses

The perfect tenses are formed using a form of the auxiliary verb“to have“and the past participle. For example:

Forming the past perfect tense
“had“+ [past participle]

  • He had spoken.

Forming the present perfect tense
“has“ o “have“+ [past participle]

  • she has spoken
  • have spoken

Forming the Future Perfect Tense
“will have“+ [past participle]

  • will have spoken.

The Perfect Tenses in Past, Present and Future

Here are the 12 counts again. This time, the tenses are arranged under the headings of past tense, present tense, and future tense.

The 4 past tenses Example
past simple I went
past progressive tense was
past perfect I was gone
past perfect progressive I had been going
The 4 present tenses Example
Simple present tense I’m going
present progressive tense I’m going
preterite perfect I have gone
present perfect progressive been going
The 4 future tenses Example
simple future tense I’m going
future progressive I’ll be going
future perfect I will be gone
future perfect progressive I will have gone

The perfect look

The term perfect aspect is used to group all verbs (past, present and future) in the perfect tenses. (Remember that the aspect of a verb is determined by whether its action is in progress or complete.)

Why should I care about perfect tenses?

Native English speakers can use all twelve tenses without thinking twice about grammar. However, if you are learning or teaching English, you should spend time learning the tenses because expressing when something is happening is a fundamental communication skill. However, remember that verb tenses don’t just tell us whether something is a past, present, or future action. They also tell us whether the action is habitual, complete, or ongoing (called the aspects).

The trick to learning tenses is to master the following:

  • The verb“to be“in all its forms (am, is, are, was, were, will be)
  • The verb“to have“in all its forms (has, have, had, will have)
  • Present participles, i.e. the form“ing“of verbs (eg, play, think, eat)
  • Past participles (eg, played, thought, ate)

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