Elementary Tenses Review – Present simple, Past simple; Present continuous, Past continuous; Future

Do not forget that verbs in the third person singular end in –s.

Alessandra works at Barilla. – FACT

Leonardo has lunch with his Grandmother every Sunday. FACT – habit


Stefano is taking notes on the lecture. – action in the present moment
I am listening to an amazing new song. – emphasizes that current action is temporary

– Formed with the auxillary verb “am/is/are” + present participle verb ending in -ing

Stative verbs can NOT be used in the present continuous:
to want
to need
to like
to love
to hate
to think
to believe
to imagine
to remember
to weigh
to smell
to taste

This cake tastes great, NOT this cake is tasting great.
You want to see me again, NOT you are wanting to see me again.


Regular past simple is formed by adding the ending –ed. There are many irregular exceptions to memorize.

Here is a link to a list of irregular verbs in the past: https://bit.ly/30GFFUM

I called my boss this morning. – single, completed action at a definite time in the past.

Did you call your boss this morning? – question regarding a single, completed action at a definite moment in the past.

He didn’t go to work yesterday because he had a cold. – negative statement regarding a single action at a definite moment in the past.


We use the past continuous to talk about things that were in the process of happening in the past.

– Formed with auxillary verb “was/were” + present participle ending in -ing.

We were preparing to negotiate (past continuous) when they decided to sign the contract (past simple). – action in progress in the past interrupted by one time event in the past

Mario was studying for his accounting exam when I saw him in the library yesterday. – temporary action in progress in the past

Bianca was speaking with the customer while I was completing the invoice.

  • two simultaneous past actions


(The future is not a tense in English, but it is a time period that we talk about.)

use “will
– for promises, threats, offers, refusals
– for spontaneous decisions
– for predictions made from unobserved data

Our team will finish the project by the deadline. – we promise this will happen

They say the weather will be beautiful this weekend. – unobservable prediction about the future from an outside source

use “going to
for organized planned events
for predictions based on observations
for things that are about to happen

Francesca is going to enroll in the Management Accounting course. – a planned event, not a spontaneous decision

I can see from his face that he is going to explode with anger. – observable event to predict the future

Use the present simple to speak about the future
– for time tables at the train station or airport or movie theater
– for things that are fixed in the future and we do not control

The movie starts at 2:30 PM.

Use the present continuous + a time element to speak about the future
– for near future events that are relatively certain

Nasser and Louisa are watching a film tonight at her house. -present continuous to discuss a planned future event with a defined time element.