Verb Tenses Quiz

This exercise tests your knowledge and usage of the twelve basic verb tenses. Pick the correct verb tense for each sentence from the two choices available. See if you can name the tenses as well. Check the end of the quiz for answers and explanations.


  1. It (rains, rained) last weekend.


  1. Stephen (is working, was working) right now.


  1. Carter and Courtney (will be watching, are going to watch) the game tomorrow.


  1. George (will already have exercised, will have been exercising) by the time Susan wakes up.


  1. Joey (has bought, buys) a cup of coffee every morning.


  1. Cassie (will have been painting, will have painted) the house for most of the day by the time her friends are free to help.


  1. Heather (was playing, had been playing) videogames when Joan left for work.


  1. Bob (had been waiting, had already waited) for over an hour before his date arrived.


  1. Ellen (will be ringing, will ring) sales when her friends arrive at the coffee shop.


  1. James (has been mowing, has already mowed) the yard.


  1. Steve’s boss (had already told, has already told) him about the merger before it was formally announced.


  1. Ashley (has been tutoring, has tutored) students in math and reading for ten years.



Answers and Explanations:


  1. Correct answer: rained. “Rained” is a simple past tense The action began at one particular time in the past and also ended in the past. It wouldn’t be the simple present tense “rains” because “last weekend” tells us that the action occurred in the past.


  1. Correct answer: is working. The present progressive verb “is working” indicates that an action that began in the past is in progress at the present time and will probably continue. “Was working” is past progressive tense and conflicts with “right now.”


  1. Correct answer: are going to watch. This simple future verb indicates something that will occur at one particular time in the future. It can’t be the future progressive “will be watching” because there is not a second event that will occur while the first is already in progress.


  1. Correct answer: will have finished cooking. The correct answer is a future perfect tense verb. It indicates that George will begin exercising at some point in the future. He will complete this action at some point before Susan awakens. The future perfect progressive “will have been exercising” will not work because the sentence lacks any indication of duration.


  1. Correct answer: buys. “Every morning” indicates that this sentence needs a simple present verb such as “buys.” Simple present actions are habitual. They have happened before, are happing now, and will probably continue to happen in the future. “Has bought” is present perfect, the verb tense used for actions that have already been completed sometime before the present.


  1. Correct answer: will have been painting. “Most of the day” expresses the amount of time that passes between Cassie beginning to paint and her friends being able to assist her. Because the sentence is expressing duration, it needs the future perfect progressive “will have been painting.” Future perfect verbs like “will have painted” cannot help express duration.


  1. Correct answer: was playing. Of the two choices, only the past progressive “was playing” makes sense in the context of the sentence as a whole. Heather was playing videogames when Joan left and presumably continued to play them. Since this sentence doesn’t indicate how long Heather was playing video games for, it can’t use the past perfect progressive tense “had been playing.”


  1. Correct answer: had been waiting. This sentence needs a perfect progressive tense verb because “over an hour” expresses duration. The past perfect progressive tense “had been waiting” is the only correct choice available. “Had already waited” is past perfect. While it does indicate that both Bob’s wait and his date’s arrival occurred in the past, it can’t express how long Bob had been waiting for his date to arrive.


  1. Correct answer: will be ringing. At some point in the future, Ellen will be in the process of ringing sales as part of her job at the coffee shop. While his is happening, her friends will also arrive at the shop. The future progressive “will be ringing” helps us to understand the relationship between these two future events. The simple future “will ring” would only work if the sentence included a specific future time instead of the second event.


  1. Correct answer: has already mowed. This sentence needs the present perfect “has already mowed” because James finished mowing the lawn at some point before I wrote this quiz. You can’t use the present perfect progressive “has been mowing” or any other perfect progressive tense verb here because the sentence offers no indication of how long it took James to mow the lawn.


  1. Correct answer: had already told. The presence of the second past event (the announcement) lets us know that we need the past perfect tense “had already told.” If you were to omit the second past event, then you would need to use the present perfect “has already told.”


  1. Correct answer: has been tutoring. Because this sentence includes the duration of Ashley’s tutoring career up until the present time, it needs the present perfect progressive verb “has been tutoring.” The simple past “has tutored” can’t help express duration and thus can’t be used here.