Tense selector

This page will help you to choose the right tense (verb form) to convey various meanings.
Click the tense link for more information and examples.
  • express a simple truth (not limited in time)
present simple
  • She works very hard.
  • My friend speaks four languages
  • John lives in Berlin.
  • I don't like dogs.
  • Do you smoke?
  • express a world truth
present simple
  • Water freezes at 0 Celsius.
  • Trees lose their leaves in autumn.
  • Cats don't live as long as humans.
  • Does wealth bring happiness?
  • express an intention about the future
going to
  • I'm going to be a teacher when I grow up.
  • I'm going to try and learn 10 new words a day.
  • She's going to buy a new computer as soon as she has enough money.
  • What are you going to do tomorrow?
  • express an untrue or unlikely thought about the past (conditional 3)
past perfect
  • If I had known she was here, I would have called her.
  • If I had had enough money, I would have bought you a better mp3 player.
  • I wish I had studied for my exams.
  • I would have been in big trouble if you hadn't helped me.
  • express an untrue or unlikely thought about the present (conditional 2)
past simple
  • If I had a lot of money, I'd buy a new car.
  • If you bought an iPod, you wouldn't have to use mine.
  • It would be better if you didn't do that!
  • express annoyance at repeated actions
present continuous
  • You are always interrupting me when I'm talking.
  • My mother's always telling me to clean my room.
  • make a prediction about the future
will
  • The sun will rise at 6.30 tomorrow.
  • You will be in trouble if you do that again.
  • We will run out of oil by the end of the 21st century.
  • Will you be here next week?
  • I'm sure my parents won't let me go to the party.
  • refer to a future scheduled event
present simple
  • Hurry up! The train leaves in 10 minutes.
  • The meeting starts at 2.45.
  • My plane departs from Frankfurt at 5am and arrives in Seoul 14 hours later.
  • report words said in the present perfect
past perfect
  • I told her that I had never eaten sushi before.
  • He said that he hadn't done his homework.
  • I asked him if he had ever seen a ghost.
  • report words said in the present simple
past simple
  • She said she was 12 years old. ("I'm 12.")
  • He said he could speak 5 languages. ("I can speak 5 languages.")
  • summarize the plot of a book or film
present simple
  • Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead and he kills himself.
  • Frodo decides to leave his home and go in search of the ring.
  • talk about actions happening at some time in the past
past continuous
  • You phoned while I was having a bath.
  • Sorry, I wasn't listening. Can you say it again please?
  • What were you doing at 8 o'clock yesterday? .
  • How fast was she driving when she had the accident?
  • I threw my calculator away because it wasn't working properly
  • talk about future arrangements
present continuous
  • I'm meeting my sister in town tomorrow.
  • I can't go to the dance next week. I'm playing tennis with John.
  • I'm not going to the doctor after school today as planned. I feel much better.
  • talk about past events with a connection to the present
present perfect
  • I have lost my dictionary.
  • Mary has fixed my computer.
  • You haven't eaten very much. Don't you feel well?
  • Have you seen my calculator?
  • talk about the past in the past
past perfect
  • I arrived very late at the party. All my friends had already gone home.
  • As soon as she had done her homework, she went to bed.
  • I was very hungry because I hadn't eaten lunch.
  • Had you seen the film before?
  • talk about the past using a word of unfinished time
present perfect
  • I've lived in Germany since 1986.
  • He's had a lot of bad luck recently.
  • I haven't seen my mother for 2 months.
  • Have you ever seen a ghost?
  • Has she lived here all her life?
  • talk about things happening now
present continuous
  • I can't come now; I'm doing my homework.
  • Look! Someone is trying to break into your locker.
  • Your work is getting better and better.
  • It isn't raining any more.
  • Why are you talking? You should be listening to me?
  • talk about things that happen regularly/repeatedly
present simple
  • I always clean my teeth before breakfast.
  • Once a week I play golf with my brother.
  • talk about what happened in the past (finished time)
past simple
  • I came to Germany two years ago.
  • Italy won the World Cup in 2006.
  • I didn't see you in school yesterday.
  • Did you like the film?
  • Why didn't you do your homework?
  • tell a joke or retell past events in a such way as to make them seem more interesting
present simple
  • A man walks into a bar and orders 5 glasses of beer ..
  • So I go up to him and knock his hat off ..
  • use a verb of mental processes or senses
present simple
  • I know the answer.
  • I don't believe you.
  • This cheese tastes strange.
  • Do you smell something funny?