Differentiate between Perfect and Simple Tenses
Understanding verb tenses
Verb tenses can be divided into six categories: present, past, future, and present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect.
The first three tenses are known as simple tenses.
In general, the different verb tenses are used as follows:
- present: the action is occurring now, is recurring, or is always true ("I am tired"; "He is very smart.")
- past: the action occurred in the past, and is no longer occurring ("I ran home.")
- future: the action has not yet happened, but will happen ("She will visit us.")
- present perfect: the action began in the past and is still occurring, or the action is
- completed but its effects are still being felt in the present ("He has lost
- twenty pounds so far"; "He has lost twenty pounds.")
- past perfect: the action occurs before another action that is also the past ("Before I enrolled in the computer science program, I had taken several math classes.")
- future perfect: emphasizes that the action will be completed in the future ("This time next year, I will have graduated from high school.")
Helping verbs with simple tenses
The helping verbs used in verb phrases in the simple tenses are "do," "does," "did," and "will." The main verb will be in its infinitive form in verb phrases in the simple tenses.
In most statements in the present and past tense, the verb is alone and does not need a helping verb to convey the meaning or the tense.
So, if the helping verb in the verb phrase is "do," "does," "did," or "will," it is a simple tense. If there is no verb phrase, you also have a simple tense.
Helping verbs with perfect tenses
The helping verbs in the perfect tenses are forms of the verb "have" (have, has, had, will have). The main verb is in its past participle form. Perfect tenses require a verb phrase.
If the helping verb is a form of the verb "have," the sentence is in perfect tense. The tense of the form of "have" will tell you which of the perfect tenses the sentence is in. Watch out for "have" as a verb all by itself: in this case, it is an action verb, not a helping verb.
1. Tiger Woods has taken professional golf by storm.
Verb phrase: has taken
"Has" is the helping verb and indicates that this sentence is in present perfect tense. Remember that the helping verb carries the tense. Since "has" is in the present tense, the statement is present tense. "Taken" is the past participle form of the main verb.
2. Did he win the Masters?
Verb phrase: did win
"Did" is the helping verb and indicates that the verb phrase in the simple past tense. The main verb, "win," is in its infinitive form.
3. He won the Masters Tournament by twelve strokes.
Since this sentence is a statement in the simple past tense, the verb shows the tense without a helping verb.
Perfect tenses use the past participle form of the main verb. The main verb will always be in its past participle form, no matter what tense the helping verb is in.