Verb Tenses: Active Voice

Simple Tenses

Simple Present

General facts, states of being, scheduled events in the future, and repeated actions
base form or –s form


  • Teachers often grade late into the night.
  • Water becomes ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Celebrities donate to hundreds of charities every year.
  • The plane departs tonight at 9:00 p.m.

Simple Past

Completed actions from the past that occurred at a specific time or facts/states of being that occurred in the past
base form + -ed/-d/irregular form


  • Their neighbors worked together to rebuild the house.
  • He drove across country to prove a point.
  • When she was young, my sister played with me all the time.

Simple Future

Future actions, predictions, or promises
will + base form


  • I will eat in a few minutes.
  • The rain will stop any second now.

Simple Progressive Forms

Present Progressive

Actions that are happening right now, but not happening forever or future actions
am, is, are + present participle


  • The teachers are meeting in the boardroom. Josie is meeting the principal.
  • We are baking cookies tomorrow.

Past Progressive

Actions that happened at a specific time in the past or past plans that didn’t happen
was, were/was going to, were going to + present participle


  • They were sailing when the hurricane hit.
  • I was going to fly out tonight, but couldn’t get a ticket.

Perfect Tenses

Present Perfect

Repetitive or constant actions that began in the past but are still happening or actions that happened at an unspecified time in the past
has, have + past participle


  • I have loved dogs since I was a child.
  • Alex has lived in the UK for over a year.
  • Stephanie has bought three cars in three years.

Past Perfect

Actions that occurred/began before something else in the past
had + past participle


  • He had just choked when the ambulance drove by.

Perfect Progressive Forms

Present Perfect Progressive

Continuous actions that began in the past but are still occurring
has, have + been + past participle


  • Ygritte has been trying to learn knitting for years.

Past Perfect Progressive

Actions that began and continued in the past until some other action in the past occurred
had + been + present participle


  • By the time I moved to Klamath Falls, I had been writing for ten years.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

About Writing: A Guide Copyright © 2015 by Robin Jeffrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.