Simple Tenses

What Are the Simple Tenses? (with Examples)

The simple tense is a category of verb tense. It covers the simple past tense, the simple present tense, and the simple future tense.

The three simple tenses are used to describe actions without specifically stating whether the actions are completed or ongoing.

Be aware that the simple present tense is an oddity. Despite its name, it is not always about activities in the present. The simple present tense can be used for activities that are not currently happening, and it can be used for future events.

Examples of Verbs in the Simple Tense

Here are some examples of verbs in the simple tense:

The Simple Past Tense
The simple past tense describes a completed activity that happened in the past. In other words, the activity started in the past and ended in the past. For example: The Simple Present Tense
The simple present tense is a complex tense. It is used:
(1) To describe facts and habits
  • Lee loves pies. (Fact)
  • I play chess on Tuesdays. (Habit)
(NB: These activities do not have to be happening right now.)
(2) To describe scheduled events in the future
  • The plane arrives at 7 o'clock.
  • The sun rises at 0530 tomorrow.
(I know! It's supposed to be the present tense!)
(3) To tell stories (particularly jokes) to make your listener or reader feel more engaged with the story
  • A skeleton walks into a bar and says "Give me a beer and a mop."

The Simple Future Tense
The simple future tense is used for an action that will occur in the future. For example:

The Simple Aspect

The term the simple aspect is used to group all verbs (past, present, and future) in the simple tenses. (Remember, the aspect of a verb is determined by whether its action is ongoing or completed. In the case of the simple aspect, however, neither of these traits is specified.

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See Also

What is verb tense? What is aspect? What is the simple aspect? What is the simple past tense? What is the simple present tense? What is the simple future tense? Glossary of grammatical terms