How many Tenses are there in English?

I’ve spent all today trying to find out how many tenses there are in English.

So far I’ve come up with 12 main ones (3 Simple, 3 Progressive, 3 Perfect and 3 Perfect progressive.

I’ve also come up with 3 Emphatic, 1 Imperative, an Inperfect, “Going to” tenses, Conditionals, Repetitive tenses (would always, used to) and Future in the Past.

Is there anywhere I can find a complete list, with examples?

I’ve had so many students wanting to know more about all the different possible tenses and have been driving myself crazy trying to find them all or work them out for myself. Please help me keep my sanity!

Is there some way I can receive an email to show when a reply has come through?

As far as my knowledge goes, there are 16 tenses. But I cannot provide any more information.

Sorry… :frowning:

I have heard that there are only two tenses(Present, Past). The others are aspects (Perfect, Progressive, etc) and voices (Passive, Active). To be honest with you, I do not get it. It sounds weird. Many people believe in it, though.

I find your comment about there only being two tenses (past and present, with the others being different aspects and voices), interesting. After all, the word ‘tense’ comes from ‘tens’ meaning ‘time’. My dictionary, though, says that tenses are ‘the form taken by verb to indicate the time, also the continuance or completeness of the action’, and gives examples of some of the tenses by name. (Consice Oxford Dictionary). I guess it depends on how one looks at the meaning of the word ‘tense’.

Both tense and time (I think).


Some people will determine tense by the core (present, past, future) or include the form (ing, perfect and simple).

For analysis I break it down to grammar (tense + form), and then for application refer to the time frame. So present progressive although present can be used in the future time frame.

This is a nice overview;

And don´t get tense (stressed) about tenses ; )

The link does not work.

Nice one! :lol:


edited the link, try it again.

It works !

Thank you very much, Stew.

The link does work, although I had to use Control Enter to access it. Can anyone explain mood, aspect etc in regard to tenses?