1. The sun is setting.
2. The sun set yesterday.
8. The sun will set at six o'clock.
The uses of the verb set in the above sentences show us that the time of the setting of the sun is expressed as taking place at the present time, as having taken place in time past, and as something that will take place in future time. This use of the verb to denote time is called the tense of the verb.
Tense is the form of verbs that shows the divisions of time to which actions or states are referred, and also the completeness or incompleteness of such actions or states.
There are three primary divisions of time, present, past and future.
The present tense of the indicative mode is used for various purposes:
1. To express what is taking place at the present time:
I am reading my book. They are playing tag.
2. To express what is customary:
People attend church on Sunday. The sun rises in the morning.
3. To express what is always true:
Heat melts snow.
In Maine the winters are cold.
4. To express past or future events more vividly by representing them as immediately before the reader or hearer:
The guard never surrenders, it dies.
Where Caesar sits is the head of the table.
5. To express something of an author or his works as though he were now living or speaking:
Milton is sublime.
Tennyson says: "'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."
The present tense is the form of a verb that simply refers an act or state to the present time.
Write ten sentences using the present tense of the indicative mode in each of the ways indicated above.
The present perfect tense of the indicative mode expresses an action:
1. As just finished:
The boy has returned.
We have finished our lessons.
2. As finished in a portion of time that still continues:
I have read several books this year.
He has visited New York twice this month.
The present perfect tense is the form of a verb that refers an act or state to the present time, and represents it as completed.
The past tense is the form of a verb that represents an act or state as completed at some point of past time.
I wrote you a letter last week. Many citizens attended that meeting.
The past perfect tense is the form of a verb that refers an act or state to past time and represents it as completed:
We had returned before he came.
The train had started when I reached the station.
The future tense is the form of a verb that simply refers an act or state to future time:
I shall attend school next year. You will receive your just reward.
The future perfect tense is the form of a verb that represents an act or state as completed at some point of future time:
The house, when done, will have cost much money. I shall have been here three weeks next Saturday.
The tenses given above represent all the phases of time expressed by the verb. We observe that there are six tenses, the present, the present perfect, the past, the past perfect, the future, and the future perfect