Why are time expressions and adverbs important magic words?

Why are time expressions and adverbs important magic words?

Time expressions and adverbs can help you to determine the verb tenses especially when there are multiple tenses used together. It can get confusing when trying to understand the meaning and the time frame of actions and events. So we have written this article to help you to understand why time expressions and adverbs are important magic words.

time expressions and time words

We recommend using a three step method to help you. Firstly, we should identify the time expressions, also known as time words, and the adverbs in a sentence. When you find a time expression you should have a look at which tenses it is used in. Be careful though, as some time words can be used in multiple tenses.

Top Tip

You could number the events in the order they happen or draw a timeline.

Secondly, remember the purpose of the verb tense, why is the tense used?  There may or may not be any time words used however last but not least you should look at the sentences before and after as these sentences can help you to understand the meaning.   Sometimes the context can be more informative overall. 

Verb TenseTime Words
Present SimpleEvery + day, month, week, year.
Always, sometimes, never, frequently
Past simpleYesterday, # years, weeks, months, days, hours ago, in (past year), last (month, week, year)

Future simpleTomorrow, in (future year, month, week), on (future day), next (month, week, year, name of day), # days, months, weeks, years from now, this month, week, afternoon, year; someday

Present ContinuousNow, right now, at this moment, at the moment.

Future ContinuousAt this time tomorrow

Present PerfectFor, since, yet, never, always, so far, # times, many times, lately, recently, already

Present Perfect Continuous For; since; lately; recently

To make things really easy we have highlighted the time words in purple.

Present Simple Examples

Every day we go to the gym because every month we have a local competition. Therefore, we need to be really fit.

Once a week, I go swimming in order to keep fit.    I never smoke, however sometimes I like to drink socially.

Every year, I travel to France for an international competition, I always travel first class. 

Past simple Examples

Last month, we went to Disneyland, Paris. Although, it was not as good as Disneyland, Florida 10 years ago

Yesterday, we went to watch a movie at the cinema.

Future simple Examples

Tomorrow, we will learn how to use time expressions.

In March 2022, we will go to Ukraine. (future year, month, week)

On Friday, I will review time expressions with Learn English Mate. (future day)

Next week we will tell you the sales results. (next month, week, year, name of day)

Present Continuous Examples

Now, I am writing this blog on time expressions.

Right now, I am talking to you on the telephone.

At the moment, we are working from home.

Future Continuous Examples

At this time tomorrow, we will be having a barbeque.

Present Perfect Examples

John has emailed the clients already.

So far this week, Dan has completed 20 reports.

Present Perfect Continuous Examples

Lately, I have been commuting from Moscow.

Recently, we have been having English lessons at work.

Task 1

Write in the comments section some time words which we have deliberately not mentioned in this article. 

But remember to tell us which tense(s) and please write an example.

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