5 English tenses you can’t do without | English Time Ask Elo

by Jun 3, 2019English Grammar Tips, English Time Ask Elo


5 English tenses you can’t do without


Elo Kasia


English Time Ask Elo (02/06/2019)


Join English Time Community




English Time Ask Elo


⚠️ Do not wait and look for answers any further.

🤔 Ask all your English questions here and we will answer them for you FREE. 🎯

👉 Join now: English Time | What I Learned Today” The Best Free English Learning Community!



English Time Ask Elo

2 + 8 =

5 English tenses you can’t do without 


English Time Ask Elo


Asked by Dina Cehic and many other members (Community Moderator)


5 English tenses you can’t do without


English Time Ask Elo


Answered by Elo Kasia


Elo Kasia is the Facebook Group Mentor for “English Time | What I Learned Today” 


5 English tenses you can’t do without English Time Ask Elo

5 English tenses you can’t do without | English Time Ask Elo




🤔 Question Time. 5 English tenses you can’t do without


🙏 @Dina Cehic Thank you for your question.


😀 As usual, I will try to explain the difference using simple language and plenty of examples.



5 English tenses you can’t do without


I am asked a lot about differences between various tenses by students who are often confused which tense to use in a specific situation. Rather than answer individual questions, I decided to write this article on the essential tenses needed by English learners.


We are taught at school that English has 12 tenses and quite often we have to memorise a table of the different tenses and aspects. But do you know that in fact, the 5 main tenses account for 95% of all usage in spoken English! Can you guess which tenses are these? 

Of course, Present Simple, Past Simple, Future Simple, Present Perfect, Present Continuous. 

The Present Simple tense accounts for almost 60% of all usage with Past Simple at almost 20% and Future Simple at 8%. Also, 85% of the time we use verbs in “simple aspect”(rather than progressive, perfect, or perfect progressive). 

5 Most Common English Verb Tenses


  1. Simple Present 57.51%
  2. Simple Past 19.7%
  3. Simple Future 8.5%
  4. Present Perfect 6.0%
  5. Present Progressive 5.1%

(source www.ginsengenglish.com)


But if you are a beginner or never had any formal grammar training, you do not know what tense means (similar to many native speakers who are not familiar with this word or the names of tenses). This term is often used in grammar books and exercises, and that is why I include it here and explain it in a simple way.


So, first of all, what is a tense?

Tense is the form of a verb (verbs express action) that shows the time something happens. Tense can be shown by changing the spelling of a verb. For example, be can become am, is, and are in the present tense, and was and were in the past tense. The future tense is shown by adding will before the verb. For example, be becomes will be in the future tense.


Basically, in order to communicate, we need to be able to talk about the present, the past and the future. My advice is, master these tenses first: learn how to ask questions (yes/no and questions words), memorise short answers (remember – the clue is always in the question), practise as much as you can with different verbs, constructions and sentences before moving on to more difficult ones. Bear in mind that you are going to need them 95% of the time!


👉 Talking about the present. In English, there are two ways of talking about the present. 1. We talk about things which are always true (I live in the UK. I am a teacher. I love tomatoes.), and our routine activities, that is, things we do every day, always, usually, sometimes, rarely or never. 2. We talk about things happening now, at the moment of speaking or around now. 

1. Things which are generally true, facts, and things we do regularly in our lives. (This tense is called Present Simple)

  • I work in an office. 
  • BBC stands for British Broadcasting Corporation. 
  • What time does your sister usually get up?
  • We don’t read books anymore, we never have time.


2. Things happening NOW, or around now. (This tense is called Present Continuous or Present Progressive)

  • I’m sitting at my desk now. 
  • I’m not working this week, I’m on annual leave. 
  • Is Sandra finishing her exams this month?


👉Talking about the past. There are two main ways in which we talk about the past. 

1. To talk about a specified time in the past and the action is finished/ completed. (Past Simple)

  • I talked to him on the phone yesterday.
  • I went to the shop last Monday. 
  • Did he break the cup?

2. To talk about unspecified time in the past (there is usually some connection with now) or something that has just happened or finished. (Present Perfect)

  • I have never been to China. (up to now)
  • Has she ever eaten snails? (up to now)
  • I’ve finished my homework. Can I go to play now? (just completed)


👉Talking about the future. There are two main ways in which we talk about the future. 

1. To talk about plans and intentions. (Present Continuous – although it is a present tense, it is very often used for the future) 

  • We are going to the cinema tonight.
  • Is he driving to the shops this afternoon?


2. To talk about something decided at the moment of speaking or to predict the future.

  • I will go and talk to him now! I can’t believe he said that. 
  • People won’t live longer in 50 years’ time.


So these are the tenses you will need 95% of the time. There are only 5 of them, so make sure you know them well before you progress to the more demanding ones. Of course, you will become familiar with other tenses as you learn and that would allow you to express yourself better with time.

Elo Kasia is the English Community Mentor and Director at Eloquent Learning Online

Check my other articles here: English Time Ask Elo

If you are interested, below a complete breakdown of the usage of all tenses

Usage of Verb Tenses by Frequency in Spoken English


  1. Simple Present 57.51%
  2. Simple Past 19.7% 
  3. Simple Future 8.5% 
  4. Present Perfect 6.0% 
  5. Present Progressive 5.1% 
  6. Past Progressive 1.4% 
  7. Past Perfect 1.2% 
  8. Present Perfect Progressive 0.7% 
  9. Future Perfect 0.2% 
  10. Future Progressive >0.1% 
  11. Past Perfect Progressive >0.1% 
  12. Future Perfect Progressive >0.1%


5 English tenses you can’t do without English Time Ask Elo Elo Kasia is the Facebook Group Mentor for “English Time | What I Learned Today”  and Director at Eloquent Learning Online School. www.eloquentlearning.com


Elo Kasia

Director at Eloquent Learning - A Professional Education Company Located In UK. , Strategy Partner of Chatsifieds.com

If you think about it, our lives are an endless pursuit of answers and new questions. So how can YOU take action to ensure that your learning never comes to an end?


The featured image is powered by Pixabay. | Facebook Like icon and other icons are powered by Icons8.