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Use of Time Expressions

Time expressions are often the key to understanding and planning written work. Students can improve their written and spoken accuracy by having a good grasp of the relationship between time expressions and tenses. This lesson includes an identification and matching exercise and is followed by a longer sentence construction exercise to give students practice in correct sentence structure.

Aim: Increased awareness and/or review of relationship between time expressions and tenses

Activity: Identification and matching exercise, followed by sentence completion

Level: Intermediate to Upper Intermediate


  • Write a number of time expressions on the board and ask students to identify which tenses can be used with the various time expressions.
  • Shortly review the more difficult time expressions with the class.
  • Distribute worksheet.
  • Have students work together in small groups to complete the first exercise.
  • Correct the exercise in class, making sure to review problem areas.
  • Have students complete the written work by themselves.
  • Ask students to exchange the exercise and check each other's work - this helps students further inductively improve their skills by seeing how other students have used the time expressions.
  • Finish with a follow up discussion of any problematic areas.
  • Have students write an autobiography or biography of a famous person employing the time expressions employed in the lesson.
Time Expressions

Matching and Identifying Time Expressions

Draw a line to the time expression with the sentence fragment. Complete by drawing a line to the correct tense identification.

Sentence Fragment Time Expression Tense Used
John will have completed the fourth grade...

We are studying Roman history...

They haven't finished their homework...

Jack gets up early...

...I will give you a ring.

I began skiing...

...she was reading a book.

He had been waiting...

I used to play tennis every day...

Maria has been living in Pisa...

I will be sleeping...

We've been to Paris ...

I'm going to visit Germany...

....she had already eaten dinner.

...at the moment.

As soon as I arrive,...

...when I was a child.

...for two hours when you arrived.

When I arrived,...

...three times this year.

...by next June.

at this time tomorrow.

...since 1997.

When we arrived,...

...on Saturdays.


...five years ago.

...in April.

future intention

present perfect continuous

present simple

past simple

future perfect

future time clause

present perfect

present continuous

past perfect

future continuous

past continuous

present perfect continuous

past perfect continuous

past simple

Complete the Sentences

  • ...when I was younger.
  • ...for many years.
  • ...this time next week.
  • ...at(on) weekends.
  • After he finishes his homework,...
  • By the time you receive this letter,...
  • ...three years ago.
  • ...this week.
  • ...since 1996.
  • ...while I was watching TV.
  • ...next year.
  • ...yet.
  • ...yet?
  • Usually,...
  • ...in June.

Worksheet Printing Page

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