Simple tenses are the most common. If you’re not sure which tense to use, try a simple tense and you’ll probably be right.
Perfect tenses emphasize the result of an action. I have lived in Toronto = I don’t live there now, but I remember life in Toronto.
Continuous tenses emphasize the action.I am dancing = We don’t know when I started or when I will stop, but right now, my action is dancing.
Perfect continuous tenses emphasize an interruption. I had been studying for five hours before my sister called = For five hours, I study. I stopped this action to answer the phone.
What verb tense to use?
English has twelve verb tenses, which we can divide into three times (past, present, and future) and into four forms (simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous.) How can we know which one to use?
Obviously, the best form is the one that most closely fits what we want to talk about. Sometimes, though, we can use more than one tense correctly. If you can, use the simple form. If the simple form doesn’t work, use the continuous. If the continuous doesn’t work, try the perfect. If the perfect doesn’t work, then you must use the perfect continuous.
If you have a choice, use the simple form.