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perfect tense

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English

Noun

perfect tense, plural perfect tenses

  1. a verb form indicating that an action or state has been completed at the present time, in the past, or will be completed in the future. English has three perfect tenses:

Usage notes

English forms the perfect tenses with a verb phrase made up of the auxiliary verb have plus the past participle of the main verb (e.g., love).

Verb Present perfect Past perfect Future perfect
love has/have loved had loved will/shall have loved
go has/have gone had gone will/shall have gone

In addition to the regular perfect tenses, English can create other variations with various other auxiliary verbs. The verb phrase in the main clause of the first example could be called a conditional perfect tense:

  • "He would have ridden his bicycle if it had not rained."
  • "She was about to have gone home." (Or "She was going to have gone home.")
  • "They had been going for a swim every Thursday."

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