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What Are the Perfect Tenses? (with Examples)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. It is sometimes called the complete tense.
Table of Contents
- Examples of Verbs in a Perfect Tense
- Forming the Perfect Tenses
- The Perfect Tenses in the Past, Present, and Future
- Interactive Verb Conjugation Tables
- The Perfect Aspect
- Why Perfect Tenses Are Important
- Printable Test
Examples of Verbs in a Perfect TenseHere are some examples of verbs in a perfect tense:
The Past Perfect Tense
- I had gone.
- He had seen.
The Present Perfect Tense
- I have gone.
- He has seen.
The Future Perfect Tense
- I will have gone.
- He will have seen.
Forming the Perfect TensesThe perfect tenses are formed using a form of the auxiliary verb "to have" and the past participle. For example:
Forming the Past Perfect Tense
- He had spoken.
Forming the Present Perfect Tense
- She has spoken.
- They have spoken.
Forming the Future Perfect Tense
- He will have spoken.
The Perfect Tenses in the Past, Present, and FutureHere are the 12 tenses again. This time, the tenses are ordered under the headings past tense, present tense, and future tense. The perfect (or complete) tenses are shaded in yellow.
|The 4 Past Tenses||Example|
|simple past tense||I went|
|past progressive tense||I was going|
|past perfect tense||I had gone|
|past perfect progressive tense||I had been going|
|The 4 Present Tenses||Example|
|simple present tense||I go|
|present progressive tense||I am going|
|present perfect tense||I have gone|
|present perfect progressive tense||I have been going|
|The 4 Future Tenses||Example|
|simple future tense||I will go|
|future progressive tense||I will be going|
|future perfect tense||I will have gone|
|future perfect progressive tense||I will have been going|
Top 10 Regular Verbs
Top 10 Irregular Verbs
All 4 Past Tenses
|Person||Simple Past||Past Progressive Tense||Past Perfect Tense||Past Perfect Progressive Tense|
The simple past tense is for a completed activity that happened in the past.
The past progressive tense is for an ongoing activity in the past. Often, it is used to set the scene for another action.
The past perfect tense is for emphasizing that an action was completed before another took place.
The past perfect progressive tense is for showing that an ongoing action in the past has ended.
All 4 Present Tenses
|Person||Simple Present||Present Progressive Tense||Present Perfect Tense||Present Perfect Progressive Tense|
The simple present tense is mostly for a fact or a habit.
The present progressive tense is for an ongoing action in the present.
The present perfect tense is for an action that began in the past. (Often, the action continues into the present.)
The present perfect progressive tense is for a continuous activity that began in the past and continues into the present (or finished very recently).
All 4 Future Tenses
|Person||Simple Future||Future Progressive Tense||Future Perfect Tense||Future Perfect Progressive Tense|
The simple future tense is for an action that will occur in the future.
The future progressive tense is for an ongoing action that will occur in the future.
The future perfect tense is for an action that will have been completed at some point in the future.
The future perfect progressive tense is for an ongoing action that will be completed at some specified time in the future.
The Perfect AspectThe 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 ongoing or completed.)
The trick to learning tenses is mastering 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 "ing" form of verbs (e.g., playing, thinking, eating)
- Past participles (e.g., played, thought, eaten)
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