The past tense is most commonly used for writing stories. It gives the best sense of order to a situation because it lets people know when/how things happened. It also means that at the end of the paragraph that section of the story has been completed.

In past tense words that are conveying actions (verbs) usually do not end with “s”. (So for example you might write: “They ran to the store.” you would not write “They runs to the store.”)

You could also write “They had gone to the store” or “They were at the store” because “had” and “were” are the past tense forms of “have” and “be”.


Present tense is most commonly used for when people are talking to each other. The present is typically not used for story telling because present tense actions are things that are still happening. Nothing is finalized yet so it can be very hard to tell what has happened when. Plus people sometimes find that the present tense when used to tell a story is distracting and hard to read.

In present tense you will see words conveying actions end with “ing” and often see other helper words show that an action will be taking place (often using “is”). EX- “He is running to the store.” You may see some words conveying action end with “s”. EX- “He presses the big red button.”


Like present tense, the future tense is most commonly used when people are talking. Typically about things they want to do later (either at a known date or an unclear time in the future.)

In future tense you see the word “will” used to show that something is going to be occurring. Sometimes this will have a set date added. EX- “They will go to the store tomorrow.”

(Sample) Verb Comparison tables

Verb - To Run
Subject Past Present Future
I ran am running will run
you ran are running will run
He/She ran is running will run
We ran are running will run
They ran are running will run
Verb - To Jump
Subject Past Present Future
I jumped am jumping will jump
you jumped are jumping will jump
He/She jumped is jumping will jump
We jumped are jumping will jump
They jumped are jumping will jump
Verb - To Shoot
Subject Past Present Future
I shot shoot will shoot
you shot shoot will shoot
He/She shot shoots will shoot
We shot shoot will shoot
They shot shoot will shoot

Sample sentences in each tense

Here are some sentences in each tense showing how to use them.

Past Present Future
I came over earlier today I'm coming over. I will come over tomorrow
I shook the juice I'm shaking the juice I'll shake the juice later
I stood onto the ledge I'm standing on the ledge I'll stand on the ledge after a bit