Writers Workshop: Writer Resources
Grammar Handbook: Perfect and Progressive Verb Forms
The perfect form is the verb tense used to indicate a completed, or "perfected," action or condition. Verbs can appear in any one of three perfect tenses: present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect.
Verbs in the perfect form use a form of "have" or "had" + the past participle. (It is the form of the helping verb that indicates the tense.)
- Present Perfect: I have finished my homework already.
- Past Perfect: He had watched TV for an hour before dinner.
- Future Perfect: Nancy will have finished by the time her parents return.
The progressive form is a verb tense used to show an ongoing action in progress at some point in time. It shows an action still in progress. Verbs can appear in any one of three progressive tenses: present progressive, past progressive, and future progressive.
The verbs in the progressive form use a form of "to be" + the present participle (an -ing verb). (It is the form of the helping verb that indicates the tense.)
- Present Progressive: The cake is baking slowly.
- Past Progressive: The trees were waving back and forth.
- Future Progressive: The children will be laughing.
Perfect + Progressive
The perfect and progressive forms can be combined, as in the following examples (again, the form of the helping verbs indicates the tense):
- Present Perfect Progressive: I have been running for an hour.
- Past Perfect Progressive: I had been running for an hour.
- Future Perfect Progressive: I will have been running for an hour.