Grammar Lesson: Three types of tenses and how to use them

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Today I want to write about three types of tenses that many (even advanced students) struggle with.

Take a look at the following sentences and pay attention to the tenses:

  1. Simple present tense: As I write this, it is 10:30 am.
  2. Present continuous tense: It is raining here in Kuala Terengganu.
  3. Present perfect continuous tense: It has been raining since this morning.

Note that I’ve given you a specific time (10:30 am) which is the morning. The time I have specified is very important. To do that, I have used the simple present tense in the first sentence: “It is 10:30 am.”

In the second sentence, I talk about the state of the rain that is being experienced right now at 10:30 am, For that, I have used the is +”ing” verb: “It is raining”. The “ing” verb indicates that it is still ongoing (the rain has not stopped). To describe something that is still happening, you need to use the present continuous tense.

Next, I want to talk about the state of rain that began in the past and is happening for a period of time which includes now. For that, I need to use “has + been + v-ing”. “It has been raining since this morning.” This is called the present perfect continuous tense. I need to use “since” to describe when it started, which was this morning. As I write this, remember that it is still morning so I can use “since”.

Do you see how tenses play a role in describing an experience in relation to the time I am experiencing it?

Let’s look at some common mistakes people make in the tenses:

 As I write this, it 10:30 am. It rain here. It raining since morning.
As I write this, it was 10:30 am. It raining. It was raining since this morning.

Do you see any mistakes? Notice the errors and compare it to the correct examples.

We’ll talk to you in our next blog post!

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We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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