Keywords and Verb Tense (Exercises)

English Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Focus: Keywords that match verb tenses

Grammar Worksheetkeywords-verb-tense-worksheet.docx  (scroll down to study the exercises online)

Some words that match certain verb tenses. These keywords can help you understand which verb tense to use, which will improve your English.

Here are the exercises. Keywords have been underlined for your convenience.  If you’d like to see a list of some common key words and verb tenses, scroll down (below) and read them first.

Match keywords and verb tenses

Exercises: English Verb Tense and Keywords

  1. The movie (end) one hour ago.
  2. The store manager (talk) on the phone right now.
  3. Roger (be) to Europe three times in his life. He wants to go again.
  4. It rarely (snow) in Vancouver, but it (snow) today.
  5. A: How long (you/live) here? / B: Since I was a teenager.


  1. Every year, the weather (become) colder in autumn. I prefer summer.
  2. A: Is it still raining? B: Yes. It (rain) all day.
  3. The boy usually (eat) the food his parents give him.
  4. The store (open) in 2010.
  5. This morning, I (take) a shower at 8:30 when my phone rang.
  6. By 2017, Johan (live) in five different countries. He  (live) in Australia now.



  1. A: Do you want to eat lunch with us? / B: I’m busy now. Maybe I (join) you later.
  2. By the time I finished my test, all of the other students (left).
  3. I (listening) to loud music when the phone rang, so I couldn’t hear it.
  4. Paula (work) in Germany for 5 years by the time she decided to move to Japan.
  5. John (be) late for school twice this month.
  6. The students  (make) a website for their project last night and then showed it to their classmates this morning.


Present Simple


  • for habits and regular actions. For example: I brush my teeth before I go to bed.
  • for truths (facts that do not change): For example: Ice melts when it is hot.


  • always, usually, normally, often, sometimes, rarely, seldom, never
  • every day, every week, every month, every year, daily, weekly, annually


Present Progressive (Present Continuous)

Usage & Form: BE + Verb in ~ing form (Detailed Explanation)

  • for actions happening at this moment. For example: You are reading this webpage.

Keywordsnow, right now, at this moment, presently, currently, today


Present Perfect Simple

Usage & Form: HAVE + Past Participle (Detailed Explanation)

  • for actions that happened in a period that started in the past and have not yet finished. For example: I have exercised twice this month. (This month has not finished)
  • for actions that happened at an unspecified time in the past (the speaker doesn’t say yesterday, or last month). In this case, the speaker is talking about their life experience. For example:
    • I have been to Japan. (Correct)
    • She has seen the movie. (Correct)
    • He has bought it yesterday. (Wrong — yesterday is a specific time in the past that is finished).

Keywords: for, yet, just already, since, once, twice, several times, lately, recently


Present Perfect Progressive (Present Perfect Continuous)

Usage & Form: Have + BEEN + Present Participle (Verb in ~ING form)

  • For actions that started in the past and continue until now. For example: You have been reading this webpage for 2 minutes.

Keywords: how long, for, since, all day


Past Simple

UsageFor actions that finished at a specific time in the past. E.g: The company started in 2003.

Keywordsyesterday, last week, last year, in 2017 (or any year before that), ago


Past Progressive (Past Continuous)

Usage & Form:  BE Verb + Present Participle (Verb in ~ING Form)

  • Used to focus on actions happening at a specific time in the past. E.g. I was driving my car at 9:20 p.m last night.

Keywords: while, when, at (a time)


Past Perfect

Usage & Form: Had + Past Participle

  • Used for past actions that occurred before another past action. E.g. I had met my wife before I graduated university. (Detailed Explanation)

Keywords: before [a past event], by the time


Future Simple (Will)

Form & Usage: Will + Verb

  • For future actions that are not 100% decided. E.g. I think I will go to the party.
  • To show that a future action is done voluntarily (the actor chooses to do it). E.g. I will help you tomorrow.

Keywords: probably, likely, maybe

There are other verb tenses and other keywords that are not listed above. However, an upper-intermediate English student should understand the above verb tenses and their keywords.

— Written by Matthew Barton of

Questions? Find a mistake? Leave a comment below.

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5 comments on “Keywords and Verb Tense (Exercises)

  1. Anonymous (Posted on 11-12-2019 at 04:23) Reply

    Very help full thanks

  2. Hannah (Posted on 6-3-2021 at 02:29) Reply

    Thank you

  3. Eleuterio Hernandez (Posted on 7-30-2021 at 22:46) Reply

    this is Very good to improve my English.
    Thank you

  4. muzaffar (Posted on 8-30-2021 at 20:49) Reply

    i like using this site for my purpuse and it is so help ful

  5. Somu (Posted on 9-6-2021 at 07:43) Reply

    Please send other uses and keywords for missed tenses

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