I’ve got something special to share today, containing a wealth of information to help students and teachers in the classroom. Teacher Howat Labrum has been kind enough to share a presentation covering a system of English tenses timelines and matrices that he has been using for decades to help learners visualise the English tenses – available free to download below.

Though my own techniques tend to veer away from visualisations and graphics (for better or worse!), I appreciate that others have used some excellent techniques to help promote a rounded understanding of English. Actually, one of the most popular early articles on this website was my English tenses timeline, but I never felt it was adequate myself, so I tend to leave such areas to others!

And I’m more than happy to share what those with more experience than me have come up with.

In this case, Howat Labrum joined my incredible reading team to help put the final touches to The English Tenses Exercise Book, and during this time he showed me how he would apply his visual aids to a couple of the exercises from the book.

He has now gone beyond this to produce a presentation that shares matrices and timelines to help explain the uses of the tenses. And he has very generously said I could share the presentation, so that teachers and students might benefit from it.

Applying the English Tenses Matrices and Timelines

Howat has done a very thorough job of presenting his work in the file shared below, but to give a brief introduction, he has visualised the tenses using matrix grids. These can be used as a quick marker to place a tense as past, present or future in simple, progressive, perfect and perfect progressive.

Using this simple tool, he has presented various exercises and explained how they work in the classroom or for personal exercises.

He then goes further to show the matrix in action as used in two exercises from The English Tenses Exercise Book, starting with the prose exercise “Going to the Cinema”.

It’s a very thorough analysis that I am happy to share in full as a PDF which you can download free HERE.

Please do have a read and let us know your thoughts!

For more from Howat, you can find him on Twitter here or on YouTube here.


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