Tense is the grammaticalisation of time reference. Hilinqwo is concerned with the three basic categories of "before now", i.e. the past; "now", i.e. the present; and "after now", i.e. the future.

The tenses have characteristic vowels: i indicates the present tense, a the past, and u the future.1

In all cases, one can replace the final t with s, m or n to make an adjective for the subject, direct object and indirect object respectively.

Indicative Active participle Passive participle Infinitive Subject Adjective Object Adjective
Present -it ("it does") -isit ("it is doing")
-isat ("it was doing")
-isut ("will be doing")
-istit ("it is done")
-istat ("it was done")
-istut ("it will be done")
-ir -is -im
Past -at ("it did") -asit ("it has done")
-asat ("it had done")
-asut ("it will have done")
-astit ("it has been done")
-astat ("it had been done")
-astut ("it will have been done")
-ar -as -am
Future -ut ("it will do") -usit ("it is going to do")
-usat ("it was going to do")
-usut ("it will be going to do")
-ustit ("it is going to be done")
-ustat ("it was going to be done")
-ustut ("it will be going to be done")
-ur -us -um