I am trying to brush up on my grammar but I am confused on when to use the correct tense of the verb.

How/when should I use the correct tense?

a) I write the letter. b) I am writing the letter. c) I wrote the letter. d) I was writing the letter. e) I have wrote the letter. f) I have been writing the letter.


1 Answer 1


In e) it should be "have written" and not "have wrote". The rules:

The Present Simple Tense: (the indefinite present tense)

  • for something general, that is always true The earth turns round the sun.
  • for habitual, repeated actions Tom smokes. I get up at seven every day.
  • for future actions: A. if they are a part of a fixed plan, especially in connection with journeys (arrive, begin, leave, ...) When does the train for London leave? B. in adverbial clauses of time and condition (IF, WHEN) When Tom comes, I’ll be sleeping.
  • NOTE: sometimes Present Simple is also used for the real present = NOW a. with verbs that cannot be used in –ing form (=state verbs) I (can) see George in the street. b. in demonstrations for the audience I break the eggs into the cup, I mix them well, …

The Present Continuous Tense: (the progressive present tense)

  • for the real present We are learning the present continuous tense now.
  • for an action that is repeated over a limited period of time but is not habitual I usually go to work by car but this week I am walking because my car is broken.
  • if an activity annoys the speaker, especially with always and its synonyms John is always talking during my lessons.
  • for the arranged or planned actions for near future I am playing tennis with Tom tomorrow.
  • instead of going-to-future with COME and GO
  • I’m going to go to Paris this summer.  I’m going to Paris this summer.

The Past Simple Tense: (the indefinite past tense)

A. TEMPORAL FUNCTION - for actions that happened at a definite point or period of past time, no connection with present I had breakfast at 8 o’clock this morning. They lived in London during the war / for four years. - to express actions that happened one after another She woke up at 7, washed, had breakfast and went to school. - to ask about the time of a past action When did you get married? - when speaking of actions of dead people Sheakespeare wrote Hamlet.

B. MODAL FUNCTION In conditional clauses Type 2 and following expressions such as I WISH, IF ONLY, IT’S TIME… In this function it always something contrary to the fact and NOT past! I wish I had more time. I would go to the USA if I had enough money.

The Past Continuous Tense: (the progressive past tense)

  • for an action that was in progress at a definite past moment OR between two points in past (between…and – also Past Simple is possible here!) Yesterday at 7 o’clock I was having breakfast. (a bit earlier, a bit later) Compare: Yesterday at 7 o’clock I had breakfast. From seven to seven thirty I was walking to the factory.
  • for an action that was going on at a definite past moment and was interrupted by another past action I was just bathing the baby when the telephone rang.
  • for two continuous past actions that were happening simultaneously Last night I was reading and Betty was playing the piano.

The present perfect simple tense:

  • for unfinished past, actions that started in the past and continue up to the present I have lived in Ljubljana since1995.
  • for expressing experience Mary has already been in America, but I haven’t.
  • for present results of past events Tony has broken his leg that’s why he can’t play tennis.

The Present Perfect Continuous Tense

  • for activities that began in the past and may still be going on I have been learning English for 6 years.
  • for activities that began in the past, have just ended and have present consequences I am tired because I have been running

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