Top 10 Mixed Tenses Exercises

Are you looking for mixed tenses exercises that you can practice for English language class? Take a look at a few of the best exercises for verb tenses below.

Learning English tenses can be a challenge, even for native English speakers, let alone ESL students. While understanding past tenses, present tenses, and future tenses can be relatively straightforward, many people get confused when you introduce tenses such as past perfect, present perfect, past simple tense, and numerous other examples. Fortunately, there are many English grammar exercises and worksheets that both beginners and experienced English majors can practice.

If you are looking for an English lesson that can help you better understand English verb tenses, take a look at a few exercises below. 

1. Create Simple Present Tense Chart

You may want to start with a few simple verb tense exercises. For example, you can start by asking students to make a chart of simple present tense verb forms. this is one of the most straightforward English verb tenses to understand, and it can help you get students warmed up. 

Keep in mind that simple present expresses events or situations that exists always. For example, a student might come up with a sentence such as, “I watch television every day,” or, “I visit my Grandparents every Christmas.” You may want to ask students to read their sentences out loud. Or, if you are working on them yourself, consider reading them to someone else to make sure the examples make sense. 

2. Delve Into Past and Future Tense

After you have a grasp on simple present tense, move to simple past tense and simple future tense. Then, try to do the same thing.

You may even want to take the sentences from above and convert them into simple past tense and simple future tense. This will make it easier to see the differences.

For simple past tense, the sentences would be:

  • I watched television yesterday.
  • I visited my grandparents last Christmas.

For simple future tense, the sentences would be:

  • I will watch television today.
  • I will visit my grandparents this Christmas.

Using the same examples makes it much easier to spot the differences and pick the correct tense. 

3. Write Out Progressive Verb Tenses

Top Mixed Tenses Exercises: Write Out Progressive Verb Tenses
You can take the sentences above and convert them into all of the progressive verb tenses

Now, the lessons get a bit more complicated. You can take the sentences above and convert them into all of the progressive verb tenses. This includes present progressive tense, past progressive tense, and future progressive tense.

For past progressive tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I was watching television yesterday.
  • I was visiting my grandparents last Christmas.

For present progressive tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I am watching television today.
  • I am visiting my grandparents this Christmas.

For future progressive tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I will be watching television tomorrow.
  • I will be visiting my grandparents this Christmas.

Remember that using the same examples makes it easier to spot the differences between the tenses. 

4. Try Out Perfect Verb Tenses

As the lesson progresses, you can switch to perfect verb tenses next. As you work through the exercises, or as you work through them yourself, remember that it is helpful to read the sentences out loud. While you might get tired of working on the same sentences repeatedly, it is easier to spot the differences between the different tenses as you move forward. This time, you will be using past perfect tense, present perfect tense, and future perfect tense. 

For past perfect tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I had already watched television yesterday.
  • I had already visited my grandparents last Christmas.

For present perfect tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I have already watched television today.
  • I have already visited my grandparents this Christmas.

For future perfect tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I will have already watched television tomorrow.
  • I will have already visited my grandparents this Christmas.

See if you can spot the differences between the sentences above. 

5. Learn Perfect Progressive Verb Tenses

The last set to be completed is the perfect progressive verb tenses. This includes the past perfect progressive tense, the present perfect progressive tense, and the future perfect progressive tense.

Using the same examples, the sentences will be as follows: 

For past perfect progressive tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I had been watching television for several hours yesterday.
  • I had been visiting my grandparents last Christmas.

For present perfect progressive tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I have been watching television for several hours today.
  • I have been visiting my grandparents this Christmas.

For future perfect progressive tense, the sentences would be: 

  • I will have been watching television for several hours.
  • I will have been visiting my grandparents by Christmas.

Now, it is time to switch up the exercises just a bit. 

6. Fill In The Blank 

Now that you should have an understanding of the differences between the verb tenses, you may want to try an exercise that asks you to fill in the blank. You can start easy before getting harder. The verb you need to use correctly will be written next to the blank. Below, we will write the proper answer next to the end of the sentence. 

A few basic examples include:

  • Hi, I [ ] (be) John Smith, a friend of Mary’s. Am
  • Mary [ ] (mention) you yesterday, it is nice to meet you. Mentioned 
  • Tomorrow, I [ ] (go) to the restaurant uptown. Will go

These are relatively straightforward examples, but you can complete them before moving to a more challenging set. 

7. Fill In The Blank (Harder)

Now, you can repeat the exercise above, but with a more challenging set of examples below. 

They include:

  • Mary [ ] (never fall) in love until she [ ] (meet) John a few years back. Had never fallen, met
  • John [ ] (not stop) reviewing until he had [ ] (study) all of the quiz information. Did not stop, studied

These are a bit more challenging, but they are an excellent way to test yourself. 

8. Drag and Drop 

You may also want to complete a drag-and-drop exercise. There are different versions of this for people at different levels. Essentially, you will see several blanks and several possible answers, and you will match the verb past the blank. A few examples include:

  • John [ ] his grandparents yesterday
  • John [ ] his grandparents every day
  • John [ ] his grandparents tomorrow

End the exercise above; the answers should be visited, visits, and will visit. You will see these options displayed at the bottom of the page, and you have to match them to the correct sentence. 

9. Drag and Drop (Harder)

Then, you can complete the drag-and-drop exercise with slightly more complex examples. This time, the sentences might be as follows:

  • Ever since John got a credit card, he [ ] a lot of money.
  • Most families usually [ ] most of their time online on social media.
  • By the time I finish my vacation, I [ ] most of my paycheck.

In the examples above, the correct form for each would be has spent, spend, and will have spent. These answers would be displayed, and you would be asked to select the right one.

10. Compare and Contrast 

By the time you get to the bottom of these exercises, you should know which tenses are easy and which tenses are hard. Now, you can select the ones that are challenging for you, and you can compare them directly.

For example, if you are given a verb such as “watch,” and you know that you are struggling with the past and future tense, you can write the two versions, which would be “watched” and “will watch.” Then, you can repeat this exercise with various verbs until you feel like you adequately understand the differences.
If you still need help, our guide to grammar and syntax explains more.

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