Compound Tenses in English, What Are Compound Tenses and Example Sentences

Compound Tenses in English, What Are Compound Tenses and Example Sentences





Compound Tenses in English

As you are probably already aware of, there are several tenses in English that allow us to handle the language for our purposes. So to speak, compound tenses in English are one of them. However, in comparison to other tenses, compound tenses are considered slightly different because they allow us to precisely understand the timeline of the action. Perhaps this is the most important aspect of the compound tenses in English since they come from simple tenses but adjusted to the abovementioned conditions in grammatically sense.

The compound tenses in English can be summarized in three different categories. Let’s take a look at them.

The Present Perfect Tense

The first tense that we are going to examine is the present perfect. It also goes by just “the perfect”. It is a verb form that is used in the English language to explain any event in past, present and future. The present perfect tense is considered among these verb forms that are applied to explain an event which has already taken place before the current timing. The event may take a place more than one time.




The formula to make a sentence by using the present perfect tense is simple. You just have to use has/have + past participle.

  • To deliver a statement: I have eaten that food before.
  • To ask a question: Have you eaten that food before?
  • To make it negative: You have not eaten that food before.

It is important to note that the present perfect tense is used when the event took place in a time that is not stated. So, you can not say two weeks ago, last year, when I was a baby, etc. However, we can use when there is no clear indication of time. For instance: mostly, often, before, etc.

Here are some examples:

  • Have you seen the movie yet?
  • Nobody has ever used that technique.
  • There have been many wars in the world.

The Past Perfect Tense

Like the previous one, the past perfect tense is also a verb form. Its purpose is to explain an event which has occurred once or several times before the current time. However, when we use the past perfect tense, there is another event that took place. This is the most important point that you should not forget.




 The formula to make a sentence by using the past perfect tense is that you need to use had + past participle.

  • To deliver a statement: You had studied German before you reassigned to Berlin. 
  • To ask a question: Had you studied German before you reassigned to Berlin?
  • To make it negative: You had not studied German before you reassigned to Berlin.

You have to remember that there are two events that happened before now. This tense is used to explain an event but there was also another event which took place before the stated one.

Here are some examples:

  • Had you ever paid full price to a ticket before your visit to the Viennale in 2018?
  • Alex knew Vienna so well because he had visited the city several times.
  • I did not have my credit card because I had dropped my bag.

The Future Perfect Tense

Our last tense among compound tenses in English is the future perfect tense. Differently from the previous tense we explained, there are two different versions of this tense. First one is will have + past participle and the second one is going to have + past participle. Their use can be interchangeable for the situations and would not make a difference.




The future perfect tense means that an event will take place before a situation that will also take place in the future. It is also used to indicate that an event will be finished before a certain time in the future.

Here are some general examples for both forms:

  • You will have listened
  • You won’t have listened
  • Will you have listened?
  • I am going to have submitted the paper by the time when the deadline approaches.
  • I will have strengthened my muscles before the training.
  • John will have a ran by eight o’clock.
  • Will Dad have arrived at home?
  • Clara will not have eaten by then.

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