Chicago Style Workout 70: Verb Tenses

Wooden signpost featuring three boards: Future, Present, and Past

It’s about Time

Verb tenses are all about establishing the time that something happened: past, present, or future. They can also specify whether an action has been completed or is ongoing.

You don’t have to know all the verb tenses to write or even to edit. But knowing what they’re called can help us to understand how things happen relative to a given point in time, which can be useful in adjusting the meaning of a sentence to suit its context.

Before you take the quiz, you may want to review CMOS 5.117–43 in the section on verbs (tenses start at 5.128). Note especially the terms perfect and progressive. Hint: Something that is perfect is considered complete relative to something else; if it’s progressive, it’s ongoing. Also take note of the word indicative, a grammatical term for something that is stated as true.

When you’re ready, take the quiz.

Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual (cited in the answers). (We also offer a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online.)

Note: Style guides sometimes disagree. Except for a few details that can be readily verified in standard dictionaries and encyclopedias, the answers in this quiz rely on the information in the 17th edition of CMOS.

Chicago Style Workout 70: Verb Tenses

1. “The air is fresh.” What tense is “is”?
2. “The scene takes place aboard the Titanic.” What tense is “takes”?
3. “The auction ended yesterday.” What tense is “ended”?
4. Most verbs express the future tense with the help of will.
5. “I have played golf there before.” What tense is “have played”?
6. “By the time we arrived, the movie had already ended.” What tense is “had ended?”
7. “The court will have adjourned by five o’clock.” What tense is “will have adjourned”?
8. “Shh! I’m editing!” What tense is “am editing”?
9. “I’ve been editing practically nonstop for the last ten hours.” What tense is “have been editing”?
10. “I was being edited by others long before I learned to edit for myself.” What tense is “was being edited”?


Top image: Past, Present, and Future, by Jon Anders Wiken / Adobe Stock.

Ready for another quiz? Click here for the full list.

Please see our commenting policy.