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Chart of English Tenses

Tense Use Signal Words

Frequency adverbs (always,

 Habitual actions
Simple Present A: He speaks. every …, never, normally, often,
N: He does not speak.  facts, general truths seldom, sometimes, usually)
Q: Does he speak? if sentences type I (If I talk, …)
 future meaning: a timetable
once a day, twice a month...
or schedule on Tuesdays

Present Continuous A: He is speaking. at the moment, just, just now,

 action taking place in the
N: He is not speaking. Listen!, Look!, now, right now,
Q: Is he speaking? moment of speaking at present
 action taking place only for today, tonight, tomorrow, next
a limited period of time
 action arranged for the
Simple Past A: He spoke. yesterday,
 action in the past taking
N: He did not speak. 2 minutes ago, in 1990, the other
Q: Did he speak? place once, never or several times day,
 actions taking place one last Friday
if sentence type II (If I
after another
talked, …)
 action taking place in the
middle of another action
Past Continuous A: He was speaking. when, while, as long as
 action going on at a certain
N: He was not speaking.
Q: Was he speaking? time in the past
 actions taking place at the
same time
 action in the past that is
interrupted by another action
Present Perfect Simple A: He has spoken. For + periods of time
putting emphasis on the result
N: He has not spoken. Since + points in time
Q: Has he spoken?  action that is still going on already, ever, just, never, yet, so
far, till now, up to now
 action that stopped recently
once, before
 finished action that has an recently, lately
influence on the present How long?
Today, this week, this year,this
 action that has taken place morning, this afternoon
once, never or several times before
the moment of speaking
Present Perfect Continuous A: He has been speaking. all day, for 4 years, since 1993,
 putting emphasis on the
N: He has not been speaking. how long?, the whole week
Q: Has he been speaking? course or duration (not the result)
 action that recently stopped
or is still going on
 finished action that
influenced the present
Past Perfect Simple A: He had spoken. already, just, never, not yet,
 action taking place before a
N: He had not spoken. once, until that day

Q: Had he spoken? if sentence type III (If I had
certain time in the past
talked, …)
 sometimes interchangeable
with past perfect progressive
 putting emphasis only on the
fact (not the duration)
Past Perfect Progressive A: He had been speaking. for, since, the whole day, all day
 action taking place before a
N: He had not been
speaking. certain time in the past
Q: Had he been speaking?  sometimes interchangeable
with past perfect simple
 putting emphasis on the
duration or course of an action
Future Simple A: He will speak. in a year, next …, tomorrow
 action in the future that
N: He will not speak. If-Sent. Type I (If you ask her,
Q: Will he speak? cannot be influenced (predictions) she will help you.)
Shall I/we in questions  spontaneous decision Time clauses (when, as soon as,
before, after, until..)
 assumption with regard to I think, I don’t think, I’m sure
the future promise, hope, expect, believe
suggestions, requests, offers probably, perhaps, maybe

A: He is going to speak. in one year, next week,

 decision made for the future
Be going to N: He is not going to speak. tomorrow
Q: Is he going to speak?  evidence with regard to the
Future Continuous A: He will be speaking. in one year, next week,
 action that is going on at a
N: He will not be speaking. tomorrow
Q: Will he be speaking? certain time in the future
 action that is sure to happen
in the near future
Future Perfect A: He will have spoken. by Monday, in a week
 action that will be finished
N: He will not have spoken.
Q: Will he have spoken? at a certain time in the future
Conditional Simple A: He would speak. if sentences type II
 action that might take place
N: He would not speak. (If I were you, I would go
Q: Would he speak? home.)
Condicional Perfect A: He would have spoken. if sentences type III
 action that might have taken
N: He would not have (If I had seen that, I would have
spoken. place in the past helped.)
Q: Would he have spoken?