Overview of Perfect Progressive Tenses

What is the perfect progressive aspect

The perfect progressive aspect combines the perfect and progressive aspects. The progressive aspect allows the speaker to express an action that is unfinished or in progress. The perfect aspect refers to an an unfinished action that started in the past and is still happening in the present. Combining the two, the perfect progressive aspect expresses actions that started in the past, are still happening in the present and the focus is on the continuity of the action. For example, if you want to say that you started dating your boyfriend a long time ago and you’re still seeing him, that’s a perfect opportunity to use perfect progressive:

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a long time. focus is on the fact that they are still together

The same logic is true in past and future tenses. Past perfect usually expresses an action prior to another action. If you use Past Perfect Progressive, it will mean that something that started in the distant past was still happening when the other event happened. For example,

We had been dating for a long time when we go married. → focus is on the fact that dating started earlier and was still going on when they got married

Undisputedly, Future Perfect Progressive is not the most common tense, but it is not very complicated once you understand the logic behind. If you want to say that an action will start earlier but will still be going on when another event happens, that’s Future Perfect Progressive’s time to shine! Let’s look at an example.

I will have been dating him for 10 years when I’ll finally walk down the aisle. → focus is on the continuity of dating in the future at a given moment which is the wedding in this example

General structure of Perfect Progressive Tenses

The structure of Perfect Progressive Tenses combines the auxiliary verbs of both perfect and progressive tenses. The auxiliary verb ‘to have’ expresses perfection which is followed by ‘been’, the third form of ‘to be’, and the progressive participle of the main verb.

S + conjugated form of ‘to have’ + been + Progressive Participle of Main Verb + O

The auxiliary verb ‘to have’ needs to be modified according to which tense we need: present, past or future. Note that you only need to change ‘to have’; ‘been’ and the -ing form of the action verb always stay the same.

Take a look at the highlighted area to see the correct form of perfect progressive verbs in each tense:

For a detailed explanation and usage, check out the individual page of each Perfect Progressive Tense here:
Present Perfect Progressive Tense
Past Perfect Progressive Tense
Future Perfect Progressive Tense

Verbs that are usually not used in Progressive Tenses
(Non-continuous Verbs)

Some verbs that express states and not actions or processes cannot be used in Progressive Tenses. The easiest way to decide if you can use a verb in progressive form is to ask yourself if you can see somebody doing it. If you cannot see someone doing it, stick to Simple Tenses. The verbs usually express something abstract such as emotions, opinion or possession.

  • Senses / Perception: to feel, to hear, to see, to smell, to taste
  • Opinions / beliefs: to assume, to believe, to consider, to doubt, to feel (=to think), to find (=to consider), to suppose, to think*
    *‘To think’ cannot be used in a progressive tense if it expresses opinion. However, if it expresses the action of someone thinking about something without any result, it can be used in Progressive Tenses.
  • Mental states: to forget, to imagine, to know, to mean, to notice, to recognize, to remember, to understand
  • Emotions: to envy, to fear, to dislike, to hate, to hope, to like, to love, to mind, to prefer, to regret, to want, to wish
  • Measurement: to contain, to cost, to hold, to measure, to weigh
  • Others: to look (=to resemble), to seem, to be (in most cases), to have (=to own)

Exceptions
Some verbs have a different meaning in Progressive and Simple Tenses. Make sure to note these when forming sentences or translating them.

  • This massage feels nice. → perception of the massage’s quality
  • Franz is feeling sick from the salad. → his health is currently affected by the salad
  • My neighbor has 20 cats. → expressing ownership
  • I’m having a great time with you. → being entertained, feeling good
  • You can’t see the London Eye from here. → perception
  • I’m seeing my mom later during the week. → planning on meeting

 

Overview of Progressive Tenses

What is the progressive aspect

The progressive aspect allows the speaker to express an action that is unfinished or in progress. They generally refer to an action in a given moment, not regularity. The aim of the speaker is to refer to an action that is ongoing at a given moment. It can also be used to describe an action withing a given time frame.

For example:
She is playing with her phone during the break.
The professor was explaining the solution when the bell rang.
I was walking home when it started raining.

How to use the progressive aspect

If you have decided to use progressive aspect, the next step is to decide which tense to put the verb into. The progressive aspect can be used in all three tenses: present, past and future. In each tense, you must use the auxiliary verb of Progressive Tenses in the correct tense.

General structure of Progressive Tenses

S + conjugated form of ‘to be’ + Progressive Participle of Main Verb + O

Progressive Tenses use ‘to be’ as an auxiliary verb that must be followed by the progressive participle of the main verb. Remember that ‘to be’ needs to agree with the subject at all times. Note that ‘to be’ is always followed by the -progressive participle of the main verb in progressive tenses to express continuity. You may see ‘to be’ followed by the past participle of the verb which is used in Passive Voice that is not a tense.

Take a look at the highlighted area to see the correct form of progressive verbs in each tense:

progressive

For a detailed explanation and usage, check out the individual page of each Progressive Tense here:
Present Progressive
Past Progressive
Future Progressive

Verbs that are usually not used in Progressive Tenses
(Non-continuous Verbs)

Some verbs that express states and not actions or processes cannot be used in Progressive Tenses. The easiest way to decide if you can use a verb in progressive form is to ask yourself if you can see somebody doing it. If you cannot see someone doing it, stick to Simple Tenses. The verbs usually express something abstract such as emotions, opinion or possession.

  • Senses / Perception: to feel, to hear, to see, to smell, to taste
  • Opinions / beliefs: to assume, to believe, to consider, to doubt, to feel (=to think), to find (=to consider), to suppose, to think*
    *‘To think’ cannot be used in a progressive tense if it expresses opinion. However, if it expresses the action of someone thinking about something without any result, it can be used in Progressive Tenses.
  • Mental states: to forget, to imagine, to know, to mean, to notice, to recognize, to remember, to understand
  • Emotions: to envy, to fear, to dislike, to hate, to hope, to like, to love, to mind, to prefer, to regret, to want, to wish
  • Measurement: to contain, to cost, to hold, to measure, to weigh
  • Others: to look (=to resemble), to seem, to be (in most cases), to have (=to own)

Exceptions
Some verbs have a different meaning in Progressive and Simple Tenses. Make sure to note these when forming sentences or translating them.

  • This massage feels nice. → perception of the massage’s quality
  • Franz is feeling sick from the salad. → his health is currently affected by the salad
  • My neighbor has 20 cats. → expressing ownership
  • I’m having a great time with you. → being entertained, feeling good
  • You can’t see the London Eye from here. → perception
  • I’m seeing my mom later during the week. → planning on meeting

Overview of Simple Tenses

What is the Simple Aspect?

Simple tenses are used to express actions that are repeated, factual, normal, or always true.

In simple present tense, it often refers to a habitual, regular action or anything that is in occurrence but is not necessarily happening right now. These are usually timeless statements. It is used to express facts. The focus is on the occurrence, not the process or if the action is complete. For example,

Starbucks serves the best coffee in town.

This sentence clearly indicates that you can find the best coffee at Starbucks, but they might not be serving it right now. (They may be closed.)

Other examples:

She teaches English to elementary school kids.
The paper arrives at 7 am every day.
You need two tablespoon of sugar for this recipe.

Take a look at the Simple Tenses in the Verb Tenses Chart:

Simple Verb Tenses
The 12 English Verb Tenses

Verbs Usually Used in Simple Tenses (Non-continuous Verbs)

Some verbs that express states and not actions or processes are generally used in Simple Tenses. These can be called stative verbs or non-continuous verbs. The easiest way to identify such verbs is to examine if you can see someone performing the action. If you cannot see someone doing it, you should usually use Simple Tenses. The verbs usually express something abstract such as emotions, opinion or possession.

Senses / Perception: to feel, to hear, to see, to smell, to taste

Opinions / beliefs: to assume, to believe, to consider, to doubt, to feel (=to think), to find (=to consider), to suppose, to think*
* ‘To think’ cannot be used in a progressive tense if it expresses opinion. However, if it expresses the action of someone thinking about something without any result, it can be used in Progressive Tenses.

Mental states: to forget, to imagine, to know, to mean, to notice, to recognize, to remember, to understand

Emotions: to envy, to fear, to dislike, to hate, to hope, to like, to love, to mind, to prefer, to regret, to want, to wish

Measurement: to contain, to cost, to hold, to measure, to weigh

Others: to look (=to resemble), to seem, to be (in most cases), to have (=to own)

Exceptions

Some verbs have a different meaning in Progressive and Simple Tenses. Make sure to note these when forming sentences or translating them.

This massage feels nice. → perception of the massage’s quality

Franz is feeling sick from the salad. → his health is currently affected by the salad

My neighbor has 20 cats. → expressing ownership

I’m having a great time with you. → being entertained, feeling good

You can’t see the London Eye from here. → perception

I’m seeing my mom later during the week. → planning on meeting

How to Use the Simple Aspect

Once you have decided to use the simple aspect, verb formation is very easy. The simple aspect can be used in all three tenses: Simple Present, Simple Past and Simple Future. There is no auxiliary verb needed for affirmative sentences in simple present and simple past; we simply use the first form of the verb in the correct tense.

General Structure of Simple Tenses

subject

+

main verb

+

object / adverbs

I

 

live

 

in Bali.

Questions in Simple Tenses

To form questions or negative phrases, the auxiliary verb ‘to do’ is used in the correct form in present and past tenses. For example,

Do you know where my keys are? / Did you know where my keys are?
I don’t know. / I didn’t know.


For a detailed explanation and usage, check out the individual page of each Simple Tense here:

Simple Present Tense
Simple Past Tense
Simple Future Tense