Common tenses: present, past, and future

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Common tenses: present, past, and future

How to express the main tenses in English:

•  The present:
- The present simple, for permanent truths, and habits:
Winter begins December 21st. This happens on the same date every year.
Icarus works from 8 to 6 every day. Icarus always works from 8 to 6.

- The present progressive (be + verb ending in -ing), if the action is in the process of being carried out:
The children are playing in the garden. They are playing in the garden at this moment.
What are you doing? What are you doing right now?

•  The past:
- The past simple (verb + -ed ending, for regular verbs) expresses a completed action:
I finished my homework five minutes ago. I don't have any more homework to do.
We went to France last summer. We went to France last summer, and then we came back home.

- In the past continuous, the action was in the process of being carried out:
When the boss arrived, I was sleeping on my desk. I was sleeping on my desk at the very moment my boss arrived.

•  The future:
- The future simple, with the auxiliary verb WILL:
Tomorrow I will go and buy stamps.
The train won't arrive on time.

- The future progressive expresses an ongoing action in the future:
At this time tomorrow, we will be surfing the waves of the Indian ocean.

- The near future, using the expression be going to, expresses an intention, or a conviction:
I am going to call him, I can't wait anymore. Pass me the telephone!


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