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Planning your own future

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Tenses and their aspects

herr-stritt 6. Juni 2023

There are three basic tenses:

The Past

The Present

The Future

These basic tenses can have three aspects:

The Simple Aspect

… is used to describe habits or facts – in past, present and future.

The Past Simple

The Present Simple

The Future Simple

“When Fido was still alive, we usually went on a walk three times a day.”

We always go on holiday to Brighton. We just love the open atmosphere there.”

“Friends will be friends.”

The Progressive Aspect

… is used to describe an action that is, was or will be ongoing / dynamic.

(lat. progressus => progredi = “moving forward”)

The Past Progressive

The Present Progressive

The Future Progressive

“I was walking down the street when she saw me.”

“Don’t disturb me! Can’t you see I am working?”

“I will be working in the garden by the time you arrive.”

The Perfect Aspect

… is used to describe an action that had, has or will have just been completed.

(lat. perfect => perficere = “finished”)

The Past Perfect

The Present Perfect

The Future Perfect

“What a shame – the plane had just left before we arrived at the airport.”

“I’m sorry I don’t have any food home.” – “That’s alright, we have just eaten.”

“By the time you move out, I will have lived in New York for three years.”

Also, a combination of perfect and progressive is possible:

The Perfect Progressive Aspect

… is used to describe the end of an action that is ongoing.

The Past Perfect Progressive

The Present Perfect Progressive

The Future Perfect Progressive

“I had been cooking for half an hour before Melinda rang at the door.”

“You don’t know Leicester Square?” – “I’m sorry, I have only been living here for three months.”

“I will have been working out for two hours by the time you arrive at the gym.”


Go to the website ego4u. There are lots of different simple and continuous exercises. Take one tense that you are not too familiar with, set yourself a time limit and practise with a few of these.

Speaking Card Sets

B1 Level (GER: Form 10)