the loud bassoon guide to the english language

The 5 Best Verb Tenses
by Lewis Kidd

There are 9 main tenses in English, being a combination of the past, present, and future tenses, and the aspects of simple, perfect, and progressive. Add in the 3 perfect progressive tenses and it makes 12. Here is a list of the 5 best tenses and what makes them useful, advantageous, and fun. Try them on your teacher, and see what happens!

  1. Simple Past
    This is by far the most useful tense. The thing people talk about most is the past, and of all the possible past tenses, the simple is the most effective way of expressing it. For example, "I watched my cat cough up a pen cap."

  2. Present Progressive
    This tense is the most popular for talking about the present. Instead of saying things you do, or really basic actions, you use it to talk about what you are in the process of doing, which is the essence of the present tense. For example, "I am eating a muffin right now, can I call you back?" Strange as it may seem, you can use this tense to talk about the past, as in, "So I'm licking the window, right, and all of a sudden the glass is breaking and my tongue is bleeding all over the place!" *Note: an added bonus is that you can use this one to talk about the future, too, as in "I am going to the market today."

  3. Past Progressive
    Good for telling stories. For instance, how many times have you heard someone say, "So I was walking down the street" Although, most stories can be livened up by using #2, the present progressive.

  4. Simple Future
    This one is almost as good as the simple past, because people like to talk about things they are going to do, most of which will never be fulfilled. For example, "I will tape every episode of The Brian Benben Show, including re-runs."

  5. Present Perfect
    This is a tense that acts like both a past and present tense. It involves a completed action, but you're talking about it in the present. This one is good for talking about your past accomplishments. For example, "I have sailed the seven seas. I have thrown down unspeakable demons. I have invented the nine-passenger sports car!"

Honorable Mention:
Hybrid Tense
This is a slang tense, a mishmash of different tenses, or even tenses that don't exist. For example, "We is going to the waterfront to picks us up some women." This isn't really a tense, per se, being more of a subject-verb agreement conflict, but it deserves a mention anyway.