Discussion Practice for Verb Tenses
How many verb tenses are there in English? As few as two? Some say there are three verb tenses and four grammatical aspects.
I’ve seen teachers count sixteen tenses by including conditionals, and others count twenty-four by including both passive and active voices.
The confusing range of counts is what happens when a) trying to describe and analyze language meets b) trying to teach language. The first effort is exhaustive and detailed, the second, simplifying and prioritizing.
ESL textbooks and teachers usually teach twelve verb tenses in English, which, I think, is a practical number to settle on. I want to create at least one conversation question set for each of them. Let’s see how I’m doing.
The Simple Tenses
Simple Present ✔
Simple Past ✔, Irregular Simple Past ✔
Simple Future ✔
The Continuous Tenses (aka The Progressive Tenses)
Present Continuous ✔
Past Continuous ✔
Future Continuous ✔
The Perfect Tenses
Present Perfect ✔
Past Perfect ✔
Future Perfect ✔
The Perfect Continuous Tenses
Present Perfect Continuous ✔
Past Perfect Continuous ✘
Future Perfect Continuous ✘
I'm getting close, but I'm shy of a dozen. Because some of these tenses aren’t used especially often, it can be hard to imagine suitable discussion questions. Nevertheless, I will try, and I’ll update this blog post either way.
Lastly, I've tried to make a helpful verb tense reference chart. There's a black and white version below.