6.2 Tenses in English language

It's probably quite useful to have a look at the English tenses before we start with the Spanish one. So we have a chance to know what we are actually comparing.

The tenses give in general the time when something has happened, or more precise the relation between the point of time when somebody describes an action that happened. This action has different aspects that have influence on the tenses that are used.

Basically languages have present tenses, past tenses and future tenses.

English language describes the aspect of duration and whether things are done at the same time with the "continuous" forms.

   Present tenses

simple present present continuous
I write
you sleep
he runs
we think
you arrive
they read
I am writing
you are sleeping
he is running
we are thinking
you are arriving
they are reading

   Future tenses

future I future I continuous
I will write
you will sleep
he will run
we will think
you will arrive
they will read
I will be writing
you will be sleeping
he will be running
we will be thinking
you will be arriving
they will be reading

future II

future II continuous
I will have written
you will have slept
he will have run
we will have thought
you will have arrived
they will have read
I will have been writing
you will have been sleeping
he will have been running
we will have been thinking
you will have been arriving
they will have been reading

   Past tenses

simple past simple past continuous
I wrote
you slept
he ran
we thought
you arrived
they read
I was writing
you were sleeping
he was running
we were thinking
you were arriving
they were reading

present perfect*

present perfect continuous
I have written
you have slept
he has run
we have thought
you have arrived
they have read
I have been writing
you have been sleeping
he has been running
we have been thinking
you have been arriving
they have read

past perfect

past perfect continuous
I had written
you had slept
he had run
we had thought
you had arrived
they had read
I had been writing
you had been sleeping
we had been running
we had been thinking
you had been arriving
they had been reading

* actually the present perfect is a present tense but for the purpose of this overview it is put into the table of past tenses. To be exact it is the connecting link between the past and the present.

With the examples above you see there are - sometimes quite subtle - differences between the different tenses. The same applies also to the Spanish tenses even if it's unfortunately not possible to transfer them 1:1. One main difference is that Spanish has two past tenses (pretérito imperfecto and pretérito indefinido) where English has only one (simple past).

When having a look at the conjugations in Spanish we had the conjugation in the present tenses of verbs ending with -ar, -ir and -er, remember?

  Conjugation of verbs in present forms (Presente)

stem: com-

stem: recib-
stem: tom-
yo com-ía yo recib-ía yo tom-aba
tú com-ías tú recib-ías tú tom-abas
él com-ía él recib-ía él tom-aba
nosotros com-íamos nosotros recib-íamos nosotros tom-ábamos
vosotros com-íais vosotros recib-íais vosotros tom-abais
ellos com-ían ellos recib-ían ellos tom-aban

Now we'll have a look at the past tenses starting with the simple past, the pretérito imperfecto.

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