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We usually describe verbs as an "action word", telling students that "a verb is something you do". However, verbs can also describe the state of something. All verbs fall under one of three tenses: past, present, or future. In addition, depending on how the verb is being used, it falls under the simple, progressive, perfect, or perfect progressive. These verb tenses can help us understand how one action relates to another. See the charts below to find an example of each verb tense and when to use each:
|English Verb Tense||Past||Present||Future|
|Simple||I looked yesterday. To describe an action that has been completed, usually including a finished time.||I look. To describe a routine action||I will look. To describe an action that will happen in the future.|
|Continuous||I was looking at the new car when it started raining. To describe an action at a specific moment in the past; it is often interrupted by another action.||I am looking. To describe what is happening right now.||I will be looking at the solar eclipse tomorrow at 10 am. To describe an ongoing action happening in the future, usually at a specific time.|
|Perfect||I had looked at the painting before we left the museum. To discuss two actions. Past perfect describes the first action being completed before the second action occurred.||I have looked. To describe an action that has been completed or discuss something that has changed.||I will have looked at the new house seven times before we buy it. To express an action that will be completed before a second action occurs.|
|Perfect Continuous||I had been looking for my dog for three hours before I found him. Similar to past perfect, it is used to describe two actions in the past. It often indicates how long the first action occurred or describes a first action that occurred for a longer period of time.||I have been looking. To discuss an action that started in the past and continues into the present.||I will have been looking for a new car for months by the time I buy one. To describe an action in the future that is occurring when interrupted by a second action.|