The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide

english tenses grammar guide

“Phil Williams may have just released the most realistic approach to aide in understanding the English tenses.” – Meg, Amazon review

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Have you ever wanted to know why we say “I am reading this book now”, but “I am happy now!” and not “I am being happy now”? This guide explains these differences, and many more – giving a detailed study of how the simple rules for the English tenses can be expanded, compared and bent.

The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide fully explains the different aspects of the English tenses and their uses. Its flexible approach to English grammar explores how native English speakers commonly use each tense, comparing uses across different tenses. It is designed to help English learners, teachers and speakers alike, to better understand the structure of our language, and its adapted uses. It can be used as an aide alongside core texts, as a reference or a standalone self-study guide. It is available now in PDF from this website, or in paperback and electronic forms from Amazon.

What’s included in The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide?

The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide provides explanations of grammar construction, typical tense uses, and tense comparisons, all with many examples.

” I have yet to find a more approachable, intuitive, practical resource that delivers on its promise of tangible, palpable success.” – Stephen Thergesen, TESOL teacher

The 12 tenses explained in detail in this guide are:

  • Past Simple
  • Past Continuous
  • Past Perfect
  • Past Perfect Continuous
  • Present Simple
  • Present Continuous
  • Present Perfect
  • Present Perfect Continuous
  • Future Simple (will, “going to” and present simple and continuous uses)
  • Future Continuous
  • Future Perfect
  • Future Perfect Continuous
  • Time Clauses

It also provides a glossary of terms used, and an analysis of time clauses.

It demonstrates how to use bare infinitives, and past and present participles, then gives typical forms for the simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous tenses, whether in past, present or future. The guide then takes each tense, from past to present to future, and demonstrates use with examples in tables that show affirmative, question, negative, and negative question form. Then, perhaps most valuably, it explores the various uses each tense can be applied to.

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What’s different about this guide

Whilst other grammar guides, with simple rules, are vital to start learning English, it is a flexible language, and eventually you need to explore the less common uses of grammar, and to start asking why certain uses appear to bend the rules.

This grammar guide demonstrates all the ways that the English tenses can be used, as well as many areas where they might be confused. It shows why some tenses might be used in almost the same way, and how some tenses can be used to demonstrate specific emotions or emphasis, when another tense might seem appropriate.

For example, the book questions why an English speaker can say both I have cooked dinner and I cooked dinner to describe the same event – which is not simply a matter of time, but may also show emphasis. It also explores the many forms of the future simple tenses, discussing the difference between the present tenses with future meaning (I am watching the football this evening) and will or going to forms (I will watch the football this evening).

Parts of the advice offered in this book are already available on this site, in different articles, if you want a sample of the style and substance of what the guide offers. For example, read my introductions to choosing between the past simple and the past perfect, or the simplified instructions for using the perfect forms in future tenses.

The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide is available on this site in PDF form, or from Amazon in print or digital form. You can also sign up to my mailing list to receive a free preview of the book, The Past Tenses, and other free content updates.

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What have other readers said about the book?

“Good information, simply written, concise and easy to follow.” – Betty Yoder, Amazon review


“This book was easy for my brain to digest, I was able to follow a long and the author kept things very simple. I enjoy feeling smarter after reading a book, mission accomplished!” – Erik, Amazon review


“Phil has given great detail to help one gain a deeper understanding of the English tenses and how to use them properly.” – Pammysue, Amazon review


2 thoughts on “The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide

  1. Pingback: Disappearing down the grammar hole

  2. Pingback: An English grammar guide of 100 pages just to tell time... | Write Right NowWrite Right Now

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