Important tense rule in English grammar

Tense is the backbone of English grammar. It is very essential for every English learner to know the tense rule clearly to avoid any grammatical mistakes while speaking or writing, even for any competitive exams. In this article we will focus on tense rule, how and where to use verbs, according to their tenses appropriately. It will help you to grasp the correct form of tense and spotting errors which asks in competitive exams.

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now

What is tense?

The word tense comes from Latin word ‘tempus’ that means Time. Simply tense of a verb shows  time of an action or event, that has occurred. A verb that refers to present time is said to be in the present tense, as I write. I do. I love. I like.etc  And the verb that  refers to paste time is in the past tense, as, I wrote. I did. I loved. Etc. And the verb which refers to future time is said to be in the future tense, as, I shall write. I shall do. etc.

Simple present tense rule

Form: subject + present form of verb + object +other

*Remember:  present indefinite tense also called simple present tense. In present indefinite sentence, number and person of a subject play very important roles.

  1. When the subject of a sentence is a third person singular number then –s or –es must be add to the subject. For example
  • He works hard.
  • Ram writes a letter.

In this sentence, He and Ram is a third person singular number so –s is added to the end of the verb as works and writes.

* If the verb ends in –ss, -o, -x, -z, -sh and -ch. For example, pass, miss, do, whiz, catch, rush, etc. Then –es must be attached to the end of the verbs.

  •  Ram goes to market.
  • He catches the ball.

2. Present Indefinite Tense Rule

When the main verb of a sentence is in the future tense then use present indefinite tense in clauses with if,  till, as soon as, when, unless, before, until ,even if, in case, as.

  1. I shall wait till he comes.
  2. I shall not go out if it rains.

Here the main verb I shall’ is in future tense and clauses with if, till, become present indefinite tense.

3. Present indefinite tense must be use instead of present continuous tense with the verbs that we can’t not add -ing form. Such verbs are-

Feel, hear, smell, believe, know, think, hope, love, hate, resemble, and remember, etc. for examples

  1. We are seeing with our eyes. (Incorrect because we cannot use –ing’ with the verb ‘see’)
  2. We see with our eyes. (Correct)
  3. He is resembling his brother. (Incorrect)
  4. He resembles his brother. (Correct)
  5. I am remembering you. (Incorrect)
  6. I remember you. (Correct)

*Exceptions: these verbs can be used as a progressive form in the following way-

  1. I am seeing my teacher today.
  2. The doctor is feeling the pulse of the patient.
  3. They are thinking of going to America next month.

Past indefinite tense rule

form: subject + past form of verb + object + other

1.Use past indefinite tense in the sentence with adverbs of time like yesterday, last year, last month, last week, ago short while ago, etc. You must not use this adverb of time with present perfect tense. For examples

  1. He has completed his book yesterday. (Incorrect-used as past perfect tense)
  2. He completed his book yesterday. (Correct – present indefinite)
  4. He has left school last year. (Incorrect)
  5. He left school last year. (Correct)
  7. I have met him 2 days ago. (Incorrect)
  8. I met him 2 days ago. (Correct)
2. Past indefinite tense rule

The past indefinite tense is also used when ‘I wish, or ‘If only, shows unreal past or imaginary wish in the sentence. For example

  1. I wish, I were a bird (I am not a bird) it is an imaginary wish.
  2. If only I knew her (I don’t know her)

*In the same way, it is time, it is high time, also denotes unreal past and present time.

It is time, we went home. (It is time for us to go)
It is high time we left. (It is proper time for us to leave)
Past continuous tense rule

Form: subject +was/were +main verb + ing +object + other.

Past continuous tense is used to denote an action or event that was going on at some time in the past.

  1. It was getting darker.
  2.  I saw him, when he was playing.
  3. The light went out while I was reading.

As in the last two examples above, when and while is used, remember when and while is used in sentence when it refers to two actions in the past.

*Now question is that which action become simple past?

Remember: When a new action happened in between a longer action in the past. Then use the simple past tense for new action. You can notice in the sentence ‘I saw him when he was playing. In this sentence  ‘I saw him’ is a past tense and he was playing’ is a past continuous tense.

Here ‘playing’ is a longer action, that was going on and in the middle a new action happened so the new action ‘I saw him’ become simple past and longer action become past continuous.

  • When she arrived, her husband was sleeping.
Past perfect tense rule

Form: subject + had +verb past participle + object.

1.Past perfect tense describes an action that is completed before a certain moment in the past. Simply it refers to the action of the past of past.

  • I had seen him last five years before.

*Remember: If two actions happened in the past then it is necessary to show which action happened earlier than other. In this situation use past perfect tense.

  • She had completed her work before I reached there.
  • He had gone before I came
  • I went to market after he had finished his work.
Past perfect tense rule

Here is the simple trick to remember, if ‘before’ in a sentence then past perfect tense is use in the first clause and simple past tense is used in the second clause. And the sentences  with ‘after’, use past perfect tense in the second clause and simple past in the first clause.

For examples in the sentence

  1. They had gone before the sun set.
  2. He had gone before I came.
  3. I went to market after he had finished his work.

Past perfect continuous tense rule

here past perfect continuous tense is used for an action or event that began before a certain point in the past and continued up to that time.

  • At that time he had been writing a book for two months.

*In this sentence, at that time refers to pastime and the he was writing books continuously for two months in the past so, Past perfect continuous tense is used.

Future indefinite tense rule

* The future indefinite tense is use for an action that will take place in future and for habitual actions.

  1. I shall write a letter.
  2. He will go to Mumbai on next Monday.
  3. Everyone will die one day.
  4. I shall be twenty next Saturday.


  • > Parts of Speech
  • > English Grammar


Thus, English grammar is a component part of the syllabus, for competitive exams like Tet, ctet, kvs. Though there are so many rules related to tense. But some most common and important tense rule in English grammar has been discusse d here. Which will help you to speak, write and perform better in examination?

Please Do share
error: Content is protected !!