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What are Tenses and Their Function in Sentence Making ?

What are Tenses and Their Function in Sentence Making

What exactly are tenses? .....

Many people are still not familiar with this English grammar, among them is not understanding the meaning of tenses itself.

What exactly do we mean by tenses?

In the sense of the word, tenses mean tense. What kind of tense? That is the tense used in making English sentences, including past tense, present tense, future tense, and past tense that continues into the future (past-future).

In making English sentences using tenses, 2 categories of sentence types can be used in making sentences:

1. Non-verbal sentences (Nominal) are sentences that do not use predicate forms/verbs of action or actions that use auxiliary verbs in the form of Be, namely is, am, are,. Was, were, be, and been which are adjusted to each subject. In addition to the nominal form, the auxiliary verb Be can also be used in continuous and passive voice sentences.

2. Verbal Sentences are sentences that use action verbs derived from the main verb types (Main Verbs) of both Regular Verbs and Irregular Verbs.

By knowing what type of sentence we want to make from the two types of sentences, we can form sentences in several ways that are adjusted to the tense in which the sentence is made. The sentence forms that we can use include:

1. Simple sentence form. 

This is a simple sentence form. The meaning of 'simple' here is that the sentence does not use sentences that state being (continuous) or state already (perfect) in the sentence.

Subject+Verb1(irregular/regular)+Object+Adverb (verbal sentence)


Subject+ be (is/am/are/was/were)+Object+Adverb (nominal sentence)

I ate a portion of fried rice

➡This sentence is a simple present tense with a verbal sentence type.

I am a student at a senior high school in Jakarta

➡ This sentence is simple present tense but with nominal tense.

They were soldiers about five years ago.

➡ This sentence is a simple form in the past tense with a nominal sentence type.

They trained in a military camp

➡ This sentence is simple in the past tense with a verbal sentence type.

2. Continuous tense sentences
It is a sentence that states something is being done, executed, or completed.

 Subject+ be (is/am/are/was/were)+Verb1(irregular/regular)-ing+Object+Adverb (verbal sentence)

This form of sentence can be made in all tenses in an English sentence. These include:

Present Continuous Tense. The sentence states that something is happening in the present time.

Past Continuous Tense. Sentences express that something is being done in the past and will be completed in the present.

Future Continuous Tense. It is a sentence expressing that something is being done or is taking place in the future and will be completed in the future at a certain time.

Past Future Continuous form.
 This is a sentence that states something is happening in the past and is still continuing in the future.

This Continuous form sentence always uses the basic pattern rule:
 To be (is, am, were, were, be, and been) with the first Verb (V1) of the Main Verb.

3. Perfect tense sentence

Perfect tense sentences are sentences that state something that has happened or has been done according to the time told or conveyed.

Subject+have/has/had+Verb3(irregular/regular)+Object+Adverb (verbal sentence)


Subject+have/has/had+to be (been)+Object+Adverb (nominal sentence)

The rule in making this perfect sentence is to use the auxiliary verb forms of have, has, and had in the sentence. 


I have eaten at the canteen. (verbal tense)

I have been in the theater. (nominal tense)

She has been here with me.  (nominal sentence form)

The plants had grown up fast. (verbal sentence in past tense).

4. Sentence form perfect continuous
This is a combination of the perfect and continuous forms, which means a sentence that states something has already happened or is being done and is still ongoing until a certain time.

Pattern / formula:
Subject+have/has/had+been +Verb1(irregular/regular)-ing+Object+Adverb (verbal sentence)

The rule in using this tense is to use the auxiliary verb have/has/had + to be (been) + v1 -ing (of an irregular verb or regular verb type).

 Mr. Rico has been leaving for Jakarta. Mr. Rico has left and is still on his way to Jakarta.

They had been eating with us. They have been (and still are) eating with us.

Sometimes the meaning in Indonesian that shows the word being does not need to be interpreted but the meaning in the sentence still shows the meaning of being by using this form of sentence.


An English sentence basically uses tenses as the basic grammatical form in using the sentence. Creating a correct English sentence uses a variety of English grammar. But of all the different types of grammar used, tenses are the most basic. This is also why tenses have been taught since junior high school with the hope that students can make English sentences correctly and precisely.

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