Are Tenses Important?

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Tenses are fundamental to the English language—they tell us when things happen.

You might know the main ones: past, present, and future. But if we look closer, there are actually a total of 12 tenses, which are grouped into four types: simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous.

Take a look at these:

  • Simple Tenses
    These straightforward forms express actions, events, or states without delving into the complexities of ongoing or completed aspects.

    • Simple Present Tense
    • Simple Past Tense
    • Simple Future Tense

  • Continuous (or Progressive) Tenses
    These emphasise the ongoing nature of actions or events.

    • Present Continuous Tense
    • Past Continuous Tense
    • Future Continuous Tense

  • Perfect Tenses
    These indicate the completion of an action or event at a point in time or before another action or event.

    • Present Perfect Tense
    • Past Perfect Tense
    • Future Perfect Tense

  • Perfect Continuous (or Perfect Progressive) Tenses
    These tenses combine the aspects of both perfect (indicating completion) and continuous (indicating ongoing action) tenses.

    • Present Perfect Continuous Tense
    • Past Perfect Continuous Tense
    • Future Perfect Continuous Tense

If you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic, we’ve discussed the importance of tenses in one of our podcast episodes. Listen to it here.

You can also listen to this episode on SpotifyApple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Now, is it important to remember the names of all these tenses to speak and write well?

Some may say yes.

Knowing the terms can help with clarity. It can also aid you in making sure that you’re using the right tense at the right time.

For language learners and educators, knowing the names of tenses facilitates instruction and learning by providing a common language for discussing grammar concepts.

But others say no.

You don’t need to know all the technical names to use English well. Many native English speakers just use what sounds right without knowing the names, relying instead on intuitive usage refined through exposure and practice.

Remember: in everyday conversations, it’s more important to get your message across than to worry about grammar terms.

So, whether you’re a fan of memorising names or not, the most important thing is to understand how tenses work. While knowing the names of tenses can be helpful, it’s not essential for linguistic proficiency.

We hope you’ll have a listen to the podcast episode and let us know what you think!

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Hi there!

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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