A tense may be defined as that form of a verb which indicates the time and the state of an action or event.
In this manner a verb may refer to:
(A) Time of an Action (Tense)
(i) He goes to school. (Present time of an action)
(ii) He went to school. (Past time of an action)
(iii) He will go to school. (Future time of an action)
From the above sentences, it will be clear to the students that there are three main tenses.
- The Present tense
- The Past tense
- The Future tense
(B) State of an Action (Function of Tenses)
(i) I write letters regularly. (Present tense, Habitual function)
(ii) I am writing a letter. (Present continuous, Progressive function)
(iii) I have just written a letter. (Present perfect, Preceding function)
(iv) I have been writing a letter for some time. (Present perfect continuous, Time expression)
(C) Time Frame of a Tense
We have following three time frames and in order to get a complete structure of tenses, we should know briefly all of them. These are as follows:
(i) Point of time is that time which denotes any specific /proper time. e.g., in 1947, on Monday etc.
(ii) Period of time is that time which denotes a specific duration of time. e.g., from 1930 to 1950, from Monday to Saturday etc.
(iii) Expression of time denotes the combination of both point and period of time. e.g., winter 1947, summer 1950 etc.