Tensed from Tenses 3

A Writer's Reference with Writing about LiteratureReference: A Writer’s Reference with Writing about Literature

Tenses with infinitives and participles

Use Present Infinitive

Show action at the same time or later than the main verb

  • The club had hoped to have raised raise $1000 by May.
    (“have hoped” happened before “raise”)

Use Perfect Infinitive

For an action occurring earlier than the main verb

  • Dan would like to join have joined the navy but he did not pass the physical. (“like” is now, “join” was in the past)

Use Past/Present Perfect Participle

For an action occurring before the main verb

  • Discovered off the coast of FL., the Atocha yielded many treasures.
  • Having worked her way though college, Lee graduated debt-free.


Use base from of verb and were is the only past-tense verb used

IF + Contrary-to-fact clauses

The verbs are for conditions that are not true

  • If I was were a member of Congress, I’d vote for that bill.
  • We could be less cautious if Jake was were more trustworthy.

But when the IF clauses is about something that exist or may exist, then don’t use subjective.

  • If Dana wins the contest, she’ll leave for Spain in June.

Wishing + Contrary-to-fact clauses

  • Formal: I wish he were my friend.
  • Informal: I wish he was my friend.

Clauses for request

Because the requests haven’t come true, subjunctive is used. Look for verb like: ask, insist, recommend, request, suggest.

  • Prof. Moore insists that her students are be on time.
  • We recommend that he files file this report.

Tensed from Tenses 1

Sitting in the library, with The Deluxe Transitive Vampire opened to the Tense section, I attempted understand when to use which tense by making a chart.

That didn’t help me much but these resources did: Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference, A Writer’s Reference with Writing about Literature, and EnglishPage.com.Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference

I am going to post as I make senses of all tenses and my tensed brain will have some relief.

Simple Tenses

Present, past, future

Perfect Tenses

Expresses an action that was/will be completed at the time of another action
A Writer's Reference with Writing about Literature

Present perfect

Action/event that began at sometime in the past and extended into the present

  • I’ve worked there for 6 months.
  • I’ve often gone to the park. (I’ve visited and may go again)

Past perfect

Action/event completed in the past BEFORE some other past action/event, used to show relationship between 2 or more past events

  • Once I had gotten over the fight, I called to apologize.

Future perfect

Action/event that will be completed in the future before some other action/event

  • At 4 o’clock, I will have practiced for 2 hours.

Progressive Tenses

Describes actions in progress

Present perfect progressive

  • I have been working for the last hour. (from past until now)
  • How have you been doing? (without duration, meaning time = recently, lately)

Past perfect progressive

Something started in past and continued up until another time in the past

  • I had been working late that night.
  • He had been partying before he came to the first class.

Future perfect progressive

Something has started and will end in a future time.

  • I will have been working 40 years come next spring.

Present progressive

Past progressive

Future progressive

“If” + Verb, Which Tense?

I am always confused about what verb tense to use with “if.” So, I am taking notes as I go. These are examples from Essentials of English.

Example: If she were to go, there might be trouble.
Expresses a future possibility. Unexpected past tense form is used.

Example: If he were talented, he could make money.
Meaning he is not talented now. Expressed an unreality, a contrary-to-fact situation.

Grammar and Tense Edited

Learning from my mistakes, one at the time.

Misplaced modifier
Clauses modify the noun closest to the comma. In this sentence, he is confued not “the comforting smell.”

  • Though confused at first, the comforting smell of the dungeon and coolness of the air settled his nerves.
    Though confused at first, he found that the comforting smell of the dungeon and coolness of the air settled his nerves.

In this one, the vegetables can’t scratch his head

  • He eyed her plate of stir-fried vegetables, scratching his head.
    Scratching his head, he eyed her plate of stir-fried vegetables.

Verbs and Tenses

  • She watched him inhaled…
    She watched him inhale
  • He heard someone came running.
    He heard someone come running

Bad spelling

  • snake is not a good snack
  • a steak tastes better than a stake

Tend to use too many “then”
Replace it with “and” or to start a sentence. (might a habit from the old programming days)

  • Then from his nightstand…
  • From his nightstand…