Verb Tenses and Timelines

When students (especially English Language Learners) move beyond the simple verb tenses, confusion can begin to set in. Using timelines helps students visualize and conceptualized the appropriate context for each verb aspect. The following anchor charts are perfect for illustrating each verb tense.

Simple Verb Tenses

This verb tense is used to express a completed action or a past state of being. If your students do not know the difference between action verbs and linking verbs, you may want to begin with this verbs unit before proceeding.
Adding an -ed ending will form most past tense verbs. However, your students will also need to be familiar with irregular verbs.

Progressive Verb Tenses

Progressive verb tenses express a continuous or ongoing action. Essentially, the progressive aspect expresses incomplete or ongoing actions at a specific time (past, present, or future). Just as with all grammar topics, teaching progressive verb tenses should be balanced between direct instruction and authentic language practice.

If you are teaching younger students or English language learners, you may want to read this blog post on simple verb tenses first. If your students are beyond the progressive verb tenses, check out this post on perfect verb tenses.

Perfect Verb Tenses

Perfect verb tenses are used to express completed actions that occurred before another point in time or event. Teaching perfect verb tenses can be a little tricky, so it’s important to find a balance between direct instruction and authentic language practice.

If you are working with limited English language learners or younger native speakers, you may want to begin by focusing on simple verb tenses and progressive verb tenses before proceeding.

It is helpful to use timelines, especially when teaching perfect verb tenses, which can be the most difficult for students to use correctly. The timelines provide excellent visual cues to help students conceptualize the correct context for using these verb forms.

Verb Tenses Mini-Books

In addition to these anchor charts, these free mini-books are handy reference tools for your students. Click on the images below to grab them from my blog.

  Fifth Grade Grammar