A reference to the point in time at which an action takes place from the perspective of the speaker.

Three common tenses which are frequently distinguished are

  • past – happened at some time before the current time of speaking
  • present – happening at the time of speaking
  • future – not yet happened at the time of speaking

Many languages use different forms of the verb depending on the tense

  • e.g. English – I saw (past), I see (present), I will see (future)

Australian Indigenous languages may indicate tense in different ways, and may have different ways of splitting up time, such as remote past or a distant future.

Tense is sometimes considered in contrast or comparison with aspect and mood.