Sergey Sulimov

Author:

Sergey Sulimov

 “How many tenses the English language has?” is a question that creates a lot of controversy. There are a few tenses that are used very often, some other ones not quite so. And there are even some tenses that are completely unknown to people who study the English language as foreign.  Relying on the knowledge provided by the teachers of our school EnglishPapa, in this article we will try to give you a definitive answer to this question. 

It is usually said that English has 16 tenses of the active voice. if we add 10 tenses of the passive voice, then we have 26 tenses in total. 

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Active tenses

There are 4 types of tenses of the active voice. But there is a catch, since the English language has a “Future in the past” tense. Lets take a look at those types and the tenses they include:

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  • Indefinite tenses

Past Indefinite. Used when talking about an action that was made in the past (and it’s a fact).

Present Indefinite. Description of an action that happens constantly with a certain frequency. 

Future Indefinite. Used when talking about an action that will happen in the future.

Future Indefinite in the Past.

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  • Continuous tenses. 

Past Continuous. Used when talking about an action that was performed in the past during a certain time.

Present Continuous. Action that is being performed right now.

Future Continuous. Action that will be porformed at a certain period.

Future Continuous in the Past.

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  • Perfect tense. 

Past Perfect. An action that has been performed before another action or event. 

Present Perfect. An action that has been performed in an unspecified moment, but its result is still noticeable in the present. 

Future Perfect. Used when talking about an action that will be finished only before another action or event in the future.

Future Perfect in the Past.

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  • Perfect continuous tenses. 

Past Perfect Continuous. Used when talking about an action that has been performed during a certain period of time, and has been finished before another action or event.

Present Perfect Continuous. An action taht started in the past, has been performed for a certain period and is still being performed in the present.

Future Perfect Continuous. An action that will begin in the future, will be performed during a certain period, and will be finished after another action or event is finished. 

Future Perfect Continuous in the Past.

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The passive voice has 10 tenses, and they can be classified in 3 main groups: 

  1. Present, Past, Future Indefinite, and Future Indefinite in the Past.
  2. Present and Past Continuous.
  3. Present, Past, Future Perfect, and Future Perfect in the Past. 

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