Whenever I’m proofreading for a VA website content client, I always check for consistency in how they use tenses. Often, writers switch between past, present, and future tense without even realizing it. It’s easy to do by accident.

The 12 Type of Tenses in English

In the english language, there are actually 12 (yes, twelve types of tenses).

  • Simple Present: I paint my room often.
  • Present Progressive: I’m painting my room now.
  • Simple Past: I painted my room last week.
  • Past Progressive: I was painting my room all day.
  • Present Perfect: I have just painted my room.
  • Present Perfect Progressive: I have been painting my room for 2 hours.
  • Past Perfect: I had painted my room before taking a shower.
  • Past Perfect Progressive: I had been painting my room when you called.
  • Future – will: I will paint my room tomorrow.
  • Future – going to: I am going to paint my room later.
  • Future Progressive: I will be painting my room on Tuesday.
  • Future Perfect: I will have painted my room by Wednesday.

Although most native English speakers use these intuitively when they speak, they sometimes get mixed up in written communication. Often, auto-correction tools pick the wrong tense when they fix a typo (although these tools are getting smarter.)

It’s a quick area that you can check on any document to make sure your meaning is clear.

If you are struggling to pick the correct tense, mark out the actions on a quick timeline. I often do this when I’m proofreading something with a series of steps. If the timeline doesn’t match your meaning, you likely need to correct your tenses.

Writing Style Tips

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