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Basic tense chart




The tenses generally move backwards in this way (the tense on the left changes to the tense on the right):

 

present simple I'm a teacher. past simple He said he was a teacher.
present continuous I'm having lunch with my parents. past continuous. He said he was having lunch with his parents.
present perfect simple I've been to France three times. past perfect simple He said he had been to France three times.
present perfect continuous I've been working very hard. past perfect continuous He said he had been working very hard.
past simple I bought a new car. past perfect He said he had bought a new car.
past continuous It was raining earlier. past perfect continuous He said it had been raining earlier.
past perfect The play had started when I arrived. past perfect NO CHANGE POSSIBLE
past perfect continuous I'd already been living in London for 5 years. past perfect continuous NO CHANGE POSSIBLE

 

Other verb forms also sometimes change:

 

will I'll come and see you soon. would He said he would come and see me soon.
can I can swim under water for two minutes. could He said he could swim under water for two minutes.
must All tickets must be bought in advance. had to He said that all tickets had to be bought in advance.
shall What shall we do about it? should He asked what we should do about it.
may May I smoke? might He asked if he might smoke.

Things are slightly more complicated with imperatives:

positive imperative : Watch out! tell + infinitive He told me to watch out.
negative imperative: Don't do that again! tell + not + infinitive He told me not to do it again.
imperatives as requests: Please give me some money. ask + infinitive He asked me to give him some money.

Time and place references.They often have to change:

 

now then
today that day
here there
this that
this week that week
tomorrow the following day the next day the day after
next week the following week the next week the week after
yesterday the previous day the day before
last week the previous week the week before
ago previously before
2 weeks ago 2 weeks previously 2 weeks before
tonight that night
last Saturday the previous Saturday the Saturday before
next Saturday the following Saturday the next Saturday the Saturday after that Saturday

For example:

I went to the theatre last night.

He said he had gone to the theatre the night before.

 

I'm having a party next weekend.

He said he was having a party the next weekend.

 

I'm staying here until next week.

He said he was staying there until the following week.

 

I came over from London 3 years ago.

He said he had come over from London 3 years before.

 


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