Easy games to teach tenses

past future now post-it notes

Today’s question is on how to use games to teach tenses. For a student to use tenses correctly, they need to:

– understand them

– learn them by heart and

– practise them in context

Learning by rote can be tedious, but it needs to be done. So why not try doing all this by disguising the boring bits.  Here’s how!

Introducing the tense

First, the teacher can explain a tense using translation and comparison with the native language, timelines, pictures, actions, and examples.  Then, students can do a treasure hunt, searching for examples of the tense by reading pre-prepared passages.  Finally, ask students to make up a sentence that uses the tense and one other word, such as “red” or “angrily.”  While this activity is more of a challenge, it’s more fun than simply making up a sentence that uses the tense.

Two games to teach tenses


Next, students have to learn the tense by heart, including irregular forms, and be able to fill in blanks correctly.  Here are two games to teach tenses that are perfect for introducing a new one.

Game One is specially designed for adults. 

Game Two is to practice writing a new tense.


Since the aim is for students to incorporate this tense into their daily use of English, it needs practising endlessly, both in class and out of the classroom.  Therefore, to encourage this, ask the students to create quiz questions for each other using the tense and play board and quiz games.

Next, give students the chance to use the tense in context using fluency activities such as debates, role-plays, and creative writing tasks. However, if you see many errors revert to drill games to get back to basics.

Games to teach tenses in class and online

You’ll find a host of those in my classroom activities book for teens and adults.  So, order your downloadable copy today in my shop. Alternatively, click here if you prefer a paperback, but if you want to see hundreds of reviews, you’ll find the most on

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