Poll: How many tenses are there in English?

How many tenses are there in English?

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 or more

Statistics Stats

This Poll:

  • Votes: 4,502
  • Comments: 56
  • Added: August 2003

All Polls:

  • Polls: 1,049
  • Votes: 555,329
  • Comments: 4,372

Comments:

willbut

Just goes to show there is no consensus on this.

willbut

I presume the votes for two would say there's a present and a past tense.
Those who chose three, believe there is a past, a present and a future tense.
The ten or more would include every progressive and perfect progressive form as a separate tense.

However, I'm not sure about those who voted for 6. Which tenses are they talking about?

nasir

where are two main tenses in english .present and past future is a tense but it is emiginative we do not know will an actin happens or not we are not sure about that and every one of them has four forms ?

MrTrilby

Future is just the present with modifiers.

Asim

The people who r saying that thr is no concept of future tense, its just an imaginary tense are absolutely wrong from my point of view because if v talk about present progressive so it also gives us the sense of future sometimes.....so according to this comment present progressive is also not a tense.....

ali sarýca

everything

Stryfe

People voting six are likely familiar with Latin or another Romance language with six tenses:
Present (I do)
Imperfect past (I was doing)
Future (I will do)
Perfect past (I did)
Pluperfect (I had done)
Future perfect (I will have done)

Jerry

Why is the imperfect past a tense and the other forms not? If that's a tense then shouldn't all the other progressive/imperfect forms be tenses?

muhammad shoaib

more than 10

EnglishTeacher

There are fourteen tenses used in English, most of which have an active and passive application.

Scooby

There are 16 tenses in english. I'll list them ...

1. Present Simple - I play
2. Present Continuous - I am playing
3. Present Perfect - I have played
4. Present Perfect Continuous - I have been playing
5. Past Simple - I played
6. Past Continuous - I was playing
7. Past Perfect - I had played
8. Past Perfect Continuous - I had been playing
9. Future Simple - I will play (including "be going to + infinitive" form) I am goint to play
10. Future Continuous - I will be playing
11. Future Perfect - I will have played
12. Future Perfect Continuous - I will have been playing
13. Future Simple in the past - I would play (including the "was/were going to + infinitive" form)
14. Future Continuous in the past - I would be bathing
15. Future Perfect in the past - I would have played
16. Future Perfect Continuous in the past - I would have been playing

Doo

Scooby,

Your list only shows two. The future is not a tense, and the present and past are the two, with different aspects.

Sean

there are four:
past (it was, it had been)
present (it is, they are)
conditional (it could be, it could...)
future (it will...)

wafaa

I agree with scooby that there are 16 tenses in English.... the future is a tense indeed....In Arabic for example the future is a tense....the same in English in terms of the future tense....

Lawrence

The comparison to Arabic is irrelevant. Different languages do things differently, so the existence of the future tense in Arabic doesn't prove anything about English.

12

IF YOU GIVE US THE COMPLETE IN FORMATION

agus hery

i think there are 16 tenses in english language. they are simple present,present continous,present perfect,present perfect continous,simple past,past continous,past perfect,past perfect continous,simple future,future continous,future perfect continous,simple past future,past future continous,past future perfect,and past future perfect continous.

Estella Eng

Wow! I did not noe tat there were so many tenses! Thank you!

neda

18

josef

i also agree that there are 16 tenses.. ^_^

anwar

i think english is very difficult,,,
i starting to like Japanese

hafidzs

i think it is good for the begenner

agus budiyono

Simple Past Tense
Simple Present Tense
Simple Future Tense
Simple Future Past Tense
Past Continuous Tense
Present Continuous Tense
Future Continuous Tense
Future Continuous Tense
Past Perfect Tense
Present Perfect Tense
Future Past Perfect Tense
Past Perfect Continuous Tense
Present Perfect Continuous Tense
Future Perfect Continuous Tense
Future Past Perfect Continuous Tense
There are sixteen tenses in English language.

Hind

I think there is only 3 tenes in English
past
present
future

razka gesya

I understand 16 tenses in english because I always read 16 tenses book.I'm very happy and I want you should buy panduan menguasai 16 tenses book in gramedia or book shops.forget my advice okey...

luciana

12

Mark

It doesn't really matter whether you say with differnt aspects, or count possible each aspect and tense combination as a tense. What is important is that you are able to identify them.

I believe that there are twelve tenses because the last four "tenses" I would see as structures that we use when we use conditionals. They don't add information about tense or aspect, but add the conditional concept. If these "tenses" then any expression or vocanulary that has unuual grammar associted with it would be a new tense, wouldn't it?
All the other tenses relect a time and a state (aspect). The last four do not add any information about tense or aspect.

Mark

It is true that different languages have differnet numbers of tenses. However, I am pretty sure all languages are able to tell us about the future.

When they do this through inflexion, or by adding a word or a group of words that mean "future" then I would consider that to be a future tense.

From my understanding, in Indonesian they might say something like:
"I play tennis now"
"I play tennis tomorrow"
I would say that this is not a future tense, because there is no set way to express the future, they add a time in the future to show it is the future.

In Japanese:
"I go to school every day."
"I am going to school now"
"I go to school tomorrow"

So in Japanese the future tense and the tense they would use for the habitual action are the same, but these are different from the tense that indicates things that are happening now.

Would it be fair to say there is no future tense? Well, if that means that there is no unique future tense then I would say that is correct.

In English if I say" I am going to go to...." then you know I am taling about the future.. If you wanted to say that I was using the progressive aspect of the present tense with "go" then that is fine, however, everyone will agree that this use of "be going to" marks the future. If it did not then how would you know I was talking about the future?

So, if you believe that a "tense" is a set of markers in a sentence which indicate a time, and possibly an aspect then surely this is a tense.

If it does not mean "future" then waht does it mean?

Whether it is based on the structures of the progressive aspect of the present tense or not is irrelevant. That combination marks the future.

If you disagree, then you are basically saying that markers that don't look like anything else can be tenses, or that tenses must be shown by inflexions on the verb, or some other rule that you have decided exists although noone else is aware of it.

If there is such a rule, what is it?

Otherwise "be going to +verb" is a future tense.

EON

English was very nice an make my self confidence when I am talking with my friends whether from England, Australia,America, India, Japan, and Korea. Really...by learning English I have got many new friends....and I am happy....Hajimemashite watashiwa Leona desu...Sayonara...

Heather

English has:

Two tenses: present and past
Four aspects: simple, progressive, perfect, perfect-progressive
Three moods: indicative, subjunctive, imperative
Two voices: active and passive

Lord Felipe

Heather is right.

kikih mulyanto

16 tenses

aspic

Since when has the 'simple' been an aspect. There are normally said to be two- prefect and progressive, you could argue that prefect-progressive is a third, but how dod simple get included?

soso

16

...^_^....

....really.....but my teacher said there's 6 verb tenses....i'm confused....

azhar

In english there are 12 tenses.

azhar

In english there are 12 tenses.

Damira

there are 16 tenses!!!!!

Alex

there are 14
simple present,past and future (3)
prefect present , past and future(3)
progressive present, past and future (3)
prefect progressive present, past and future (3)
conditional and conditional prefect (2)

Alex

I was wrong there are 16.

1. Present Simple - I play
2. Present Continuous - I am playing
3. Present Perfect - I have played
4. Present Perfect Continuous - I have been playing

5. Past Simple - I played
6. Past Continuous - I was playing
7. Past Perfect - I had played
8. Past Perfect Continuous - I had been playing

9. Future Simple - I will play (including "be going to + infinitive" form) I am goint to play
10. Future Continuous - I will be playing
11. Future Perfect - I will have played
12. Future Perfect Continuous - I will have been playing

13. Future Simple in the past - I would play (including the "was/were going to + infinitive" form)
14. Future Continuous in the past - I would be playing
15. Future Perfect in the past - I would have played
16. Future Perfect Continuous in the past - I would have been playing

Note the continous tense is also known as the Progressive tense
the future tense in the past is also known as the conditional tense
the Past Perfect is also known as the Pluperfect
the Past Continous is also known as the Imperfect past or Imperfect

Plus Playing is the present participle and played is the past participle

nafisa abbas

There only 2 main tenses,The present tense and the past tense, future tense is an extended present tense .it is not oroot tense as the other two.

Luigi

This shows you why teaching English is so difficult . Even English teachers don't know how many tenses there are, How do teachers go about teaching grammar tenses is a big problem causing much confusion in the minds of foreign language learners. The focus for English is on time, tense and one's perspective. Do not compare English to a tense based language, big mistake.

i.q.

:D i`ve just read the discussion and i find it hilarious! on the one hand there are people how try to prove their point (like mark did). and on the other hand there are people who simply comment "no, there are only two tenses" :D i speak russian and german and english and i am surprised that anyone is denying a future tense in english language. if there were no future tense, how could you express your mind about things that haven´t happened yet? there is definately a future tense in english, to me thats obvious..

sokhom

There are 24 tenses in English language, but I'm not sure to list it down

kaka

i think tenses in English are 12

udeme

they are 6 tenses in english

bill hamilton

At least 16 trenses in common use for everyday communications

chris

English has 2 tenses.

'will' is not an inflected form of the verb, nor is it compulsory in all situations where we express the future. It is actually a modal auxiliary verb, just like 'may, can, should' etc.

Continuous, simple, perfect etc are not tenses, they are aspects.

Verbs have only two inflected forms: past and non-past.
e.g eat / ate

Just because we can add extra words to express different aspects or futurity, does not mean we have more than two grammatical tenses.

Azeri

in english grammar exist 16 tense forms.its for sure.

Mohammed Baba Umar

English verb has three (3) main tenses thus; Past, Present and Future as well as four (4) of each of these tenses thus; Simple, Progressive, Perfect and Perfect Progressive.

amrit

10 or more

memey

i'm really confused with the tenses.. as far as i know from some books basically English has 12 tenses.. if it's stated 16 or more than 16, just make ppl like me and others confused to learn because my mother tongue isn't English., too complicated to learn..

Mark

It depends on what you define a tense to be. If it is how the verb can be inflected to indicate time without using an auxiliary verb then there are only two. If you include different constructions using auxiliary verbs then there can be a lot more with it still being difficult to put an exact number on. Also I've seen some people argue that any sentence referring to the future such as "I leave tomorrow" is the future tense even though it uses the present tense form.
There is no correct answer, it seems just to be an argument about terminology.

Ane

there r only 2 tenses: present and non-present

worddrink

I think there are 12 or 13 tenses in English. Am gonna investigate more.

Anonymous

Why do people not understand that English has two tenses?

THE "PERFECT TENSES" AND THE "PROGRESSIVE TENSES" ARE ACTUALLY ASPECTS--NOT TENSES! GO DO SOME SIMPLE WIKIPEDIA READING!

The conditional is not a tense either--it is formed with modal auxiliary verbs!

And as for the future tense--English has no grammatically inflected future tense! Old English actually used the present tense for both present and future. English has a way of expressing the future tense, but does not actually have the future tense itself. The auxiliary "will" actually originally indicated determination or "will" (as it does in the other sense of the word), but because of its function as an auxiliary, English has no future tense!

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