# How many tenses are there in English language?

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#### Anonymous

##### Guest
I would like to know how many tenses are there in English?. I don't know why but for me it's very difficult to understand about the tenses and all the changes I have to make in order to have a good structure of sentences when speaking. I believe that speaking isn't my real problem, the thing is that when I have to get into the grammar stuff I got confuse very easy. Many times, when talking or reading I notice that there is something wrong but I cannot explain what is it, to me sounds wrong, but how can I say what's wrong?... I would like to know about how many tenses are there in English?.

#### RonBee

##### Moderator
I'd say there are basically three tenses: past, present, and future. Then if you throw in the perfect tenses you get three more. Then if you throw in the progressive tenses you get three more. That is a total of nine. Then there are the conditionals. If you figure there are three conditonals then that gives you twelve tenses. That should be enough for anybody, right?

Staff member

#### Casiopea

##### VIP Member
RonBee said:
I'd say there are basically three tenses: past, present, and future. Then if you throw in the perfect tenses you get three more. Then if you throw in the progressive tenses you get three more. That is a total of nine. Then there are the conditionals. If you figure there are three conditonals then that gives you twelve tenses. That should be enough for anybody, right?

Theoretically, there are two tenses (temporal axis points): Present and Past. Perfect is an aspect (points on the axis that diverge from it), and the consensus is still not in yet on future and continuous, but they, too, are generally viewed as aspectual in function. As for what grammar text(book)s use, it's "tense", a misnomer in origin, though, perpetuated by a lack of a better term.

#### MikeNewYork

##### VIP Member
RonBee said:
Red5 said:
You could also take a look at our poll on this topic: https://www.usingenglish.com/poll/index.php?poll_id=26&l_page=96

Cas says there are only two tenses (as does Tdol), so I guess I had better vote that way.

:wink:

Hang on there! There are only two inflected tenses has somehow turned into there are only two tenses. I simply don't buy that.

There are differences of opinions about the perfect and progressive tenses. I tend to draw the line bewteen them. The perfect tenses involve time and are correctly called tenses in my opinion. The progrssive forms are about process and conditionals are about structures.

For me, there are 6 tenses. :idea:

#### RonBee

##### Moderator
Hm. Mike says there are six tenses. That would include:
• simple past
simple present
simple future
past perfect
present perfect
future perfect

Do I have that right?

#### MikeNewYork

##### VIP Member
RonBee said:
Hm. Mike says there are six tenses. That would include:
• simple past
simple present
simple future
past perfect
present perfect
future perfect

Do I have that right?

That's a fact, Jack! :roll:

#### Casiopea

##### VIP Member
MikeNewYork said:
RonBee said:
Hm. Mike says there are six tenses. That would include:
• simple past
simple present
simple future
past perfect
present perfect
future perfect

Do I have that right?

That's a fact, Jack! :roll:

There are six basic tenses, but only two of those are marked by verbs:

She goes (Present)
She went (Past)

In all, there are close to thirty tenses, in English, marked by auxiliaries.

#### MikeNewYork

##### VIP Member
Casiopea said:
MikeNewYork said:
RonBee said:
Hm. Mike says there are six tenses. That would include:
• simple past
simple present
simple future
past perfect
present perfect
future perfect

Do I have that right?

That's a fact, Jack! :roll:

There are six basic tenses, but only two of those are marked by verbs:

She goes (Present)
She went (Past)

In all, there are close to thirty tenses, in English, marked by auxiliaries.

I agree that only two tenses are marked by verb inflection (and that is not all verbs and not much of the present tense). I have never heard of the close to thirty. In addition to the standard (for some) 6, I know of progessive, and some people say conditional, and a few hold out for emphatic, but what are the rest?

#### Tdol

##### Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
I'm a two-tense chap. ;-)

#### Tdol

##### Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Casiopea said:
In all, there are close to thirty tenses, in English, marked by auxiliaries.

Are youincluding passives as separate tenses? If not, I'm not sure how you get that number. ;-)

#### scoobert

##### Member
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

)

#### Soup

##### VIP Member
There are just the two, actually.

1 Present Tense
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

2 Past Tense
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

Aspect
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

#### kiranlegend

##### Member
There are just the two, actually.

1 Present Tense
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

2 Past Tense
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

Aspect
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

There are only two :shock:

What about Future tense family then?

#### engee30

##### Key Member
There are only two :shock:

What about Future tense family then?

Look back at Soup's post. THERE ARE ONLY TWO TENSES AS SUCH IN ENGLISH; the other ways of talking about time are called the ASPECTS!

#### poorboy_9

##### Member
TDOL, thanks for putting in your two tense; hey....... that nun with the ruler in gradeschool has some 'splainn' to do!!
I agree with the two tenses, but three is the "norm" when most of my class was asked their response to the question(secret ballot-no mob theory). It's tough to teach "aspects" when they have Past, Present, Future in their heads from their own language.--Any ideas on how i might broach the subject, or "go along to get along"??
B.

#### Rafaella

##### New member
Guys, please, read it and maybe it'll make the learning of tenses easier.
There are 4 groups of tenses: Simple, Continuous, Perfect and Perfect Continuous.
Meanings.
Simple Tenses: simple regular actions, something that is always true.
Eg. I read books every day.
Continuous Tenses: action in progress, action that is happening at the moment of speaking.
Eg. I am reading a book now.
Perfect Tenses: actions which have results.
Eg. I have read three books this month.
Perfect Continuous Tenses: actions that combine result+action in process.
Eg. I have been reading a book from the moment I came home.

And: each of this tenses has forms of the present, past and future which makes altogether 12 tenses!!!

Hope it will help. It's fun to learn tenses. Good luck to everybody.

#### konungursvia

##### VIP Member
To me, there are five tenses and five aspects, for twenty-five total possibilities. However, some are logically impossible, so we only have a few, about half of those:

Here's my explanation in a pdf I made about 5 years ago:
www.chass.utoronto.ca/french/as-sa/timezonesfortenses.pdf

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