Verb Tense

Verb tenses give information about when an action took place. Choose the right tense to indicate your meaning in your sentences. Change verb tenses only when there is a real change in time. When you are writing about an idea, stay with the same tense.

When I open the door, my dog greets me. (present tense)
Incorrect: When I open the door, my dog greeted me.
Correct: When I opened the door, my dog greeted me. (past tense)

Types of Verb Tenses:

See More Verb Rules

Present Tense

The present tense shows that an action is taking place in the present but does not indicate when the action will end.

Examples: We go to the store.
  They study at the university.

Special uses of the present tense:

Use the present tense to describe something that is universally true and not limited to a particular time.

Example: The boiling point of water is 100 degrees Celsius.

Use the present tense to discuss the contents of a book, a poem, or an essay even though the work might be written in the past.

Example: Julius Caesar is murdered by Brutus in Shakespeare's play.

Present Continuous Tense

The present continuous tense shows that something is happening in the present and will have a definite end.

Examples: We are going to the store now.
  They are studying at the university.

Past Tense

The past tense shows that something was completed in the past.

Examples: We went to the store yesterday.
  They studied at the university in 1980.

Past Participle Tense

The past participle tense shows that something was completed in the past before another action. Usually, the past participle and the past tense are used in the same sentence.

Examples:We had gone to the store when she arrived.
 They had studied at the university before they found jobs.

Future Tense

The future tense shows that something will happen in the future.

Examples:We will go to the store later today.
They will study at the university in the coming September.