Signal words and English Tenses

What are signal words?

Signal words help you to put in the correct tense. You can easily put in the correct form of the verb if you know the signal word and which tense it demands. The following table is for beginners. You have to keep in mind that in more complex structures it is important to have a look at the action in a sentence rather than spotting a signal word.

Signal words Tenses
  • every ... (day)
  • often
  • seldom
  • sometimes
  • usually
Simple Present
  • at the moment
  • Look!
  • Listen!
  • now
Present Progressive
  • ... ago
  • last ...
  • in 2010
  • yesterday
Simple Past
  • already
  • ever
  • so far
  • up to now
  • yet
Present Perfect