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Time Chart Explanations

To visualize time, we use time line charts. Past to Present to Future is indicated from left to right. A vertical line going through the time line indicates action. A horizontal arrow indicates that something is in progress. 1 and 2 indicate the order of events when the specific time is not important.

Verb Tense Continuum

Present Past Future

I will wait I will be waiting I will have waited I will have been waiting I wait I am waiting I have waited I have been waiting I waited I was waiting I had waited I had been waiting As you can see, the use of have as an auxiliary verb indicates action just before another time or event. The use of be and an -ing ending means in progress at that time. The use of have been -ing indicates both. The only English verb tenses that have exact French equivalents are the Past Perfect, which matches the plus-que-parfait tense and the Future Perfect, which matches the futur antérieur tense. For all other tenses, word for word translation is useless. It is the meaning that must be translated. Follow the diagrams. Remember: The verb be is ALWAYS an exception. There is no Conditional tense in English. We use Modal Auxiliaries (could, should, etc.) instead. These are not the only uses of these verb tenses, but only the main ones.

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A Visual Overview of Verb Tenses

PAST PRESENT SIMPLE S P E C I F I C T I M E FUTURE

She worked yesterday.

She works every day. PROGRESSIVE

She will work again tomorrow.

She was working at 9 AM this morning.

She is working right now.

She will be working at 6 PM tonight.

PERFECT U N S 1 P E C I F I E D

2 When she retired, she had worked all her life.

2 So far, she has worked all her life. PERFECT PROGRESSIVE

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1 2 When she retires, she will have worked all her life.

1 2 T I When she retired, M she had been working E for 40 years.

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2

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2

She has been working for 40 years.

When she retires, she will have been working for 40 years.

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