Active Verb Tense

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What do they mean?

Active verb tenses identify the time of the action in your sentences. Make sure not to confuse active verb tenses with the active voice. While writing in the active voice requires the use of active verb tenses, tenses refer to the time of the action, and voice refers to how verbs function with respect to a sentence’s subject. Writing in the active voice is only accomplished through the use of active verb tenses, with each identifying when in time the active action takes place.

How are they created?

Active verb tenses do not have a uniform form of construction. Sometimes the base or main verb is used in its simplest form, sometimes the present or past participle form is used and sometimes “to be” verbs are used in addition to a form of the main verb. Each tense is different, so make sure you are using the proper tense and verb construction when writing with active tenses. When using active tense verbs, the subject of the verb is the person or thing doing the action.

Simple present active tense

Simple present tense signifies a current action that is habitual, a generalization or something that is a timeless fact. The base form of the verb by itself or with an “s” or “es” when writing in the third person forms the active form of this tense.

Example 1: Finding solutions to real-world problems teaches the students.

Example 2: The runner from the school’s biggest rival beat her.

Example 3: All citizens are equal under the U.S. Constitution.

Present perfect active tense

Present perfect tense shows an action that takes place in the past but is relevant to the present or flows into the present. “Has” or “have” followed by the past participle of the verb, ending in “ed” or “en” for regular verbs, forms the active form of this tense. Irregular verbs have endings based on the particular verb.

Example 4: The school has notified the dancers regarding their acceptance into the program.

Present progressive active tense

The present progressive tense shows an action that is temporary or an ongoing activity. “Am,” “is” or “are” followed by the present participle (ending in “ing”) forms the active form of this tense.

Example 5: The company is manufacturing the purses overseas.

Simple past active tense

The simple past tense shows a general or habitual action that occurred in the past, sometimes at a specific time. The base form of the verb with an “ed” ending or the irregular past tense verb is used to create an active form of this tense.

Example 6: The principal reprimanded the students for their actions.

Example 7: The principal taught the students a valuable lesson (irregular past tense verb).

Past perfect active tense

The past perfect tense signifies an action that happened prior to a certain time or prior to a separate action in the past. “Had” followed by the past participle form of the verb, usually ending in “ed” or “en,” is used to create the active form of this tense.

Example 8: The meeting had excited the students since the idea formed for it.

Past progressive active tense

The past progressive tense signifies an action that is ongoing in the past or one that continues through a certain time in the past. “Was” or “were” followed by the present participle form of the verb (ending in “ing”) creates the active form of this tense.

Example 9: The student meeting was excluding the teachers.

Simple future active tense

The simple future tense notates an action that is expected to take place at some point in the future. “Will” followed by the base form of the verb creates one active form of this tense. “Is going to,” “am going to” or “are going to” followed by the base form of the verb creates a second active form of this tense.

Example 10: Sarah’s professors will post her grades at the end of the semester.

Example 11: Sarah’s professors are going to post her grades at the end of the semester.

Future perfect active tense

The future perfect tense notates an action that is completed in the future prior to another future action or period in time. “Will have” followed by the past participle form of the verb, usually ending in “ed” or “en,” creates the active form of this tense.

Example 12: Careful lending practices will have improved the economy.

Future progressive active tense

The future progressive tense identifies an action that is going to occur in the future with an emphasis on an action that is continuing. “Will be” followed by the present participle form of the verb (ending in “ing”) creates the active form of this tense.

Example 13: You will be being washing your laundry when you go home over spring break.