Quick revision of all present tenses

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In the article "Popular Grammar Myths You Probably Do not Know" we have already discussed the fact that English grammar is quite confusing and difficult to learn. It is necessary to master the knowledge about tense forms in order to communicate in English properly. Basically, there are twelve tenses, four forms in each tense (future, present and past). As we remember, when choosing the required tense in the English language we should also take into account completeness of the action or its continuance. The following article will be the first in the series devoted to the Tenses in English. We'll talk more about each of them, and analyze each tense from the ground up. Let's start with the Present Tense.

How to express present tense in English?

Present Tense in the English language can be expressed by the following four forms:

  • Present Indefinite / Simple,
  • Present Continuous / Progressive,
  • Present Perfect
  • Present Perfect Continuous / Progressive.

Let's talk briefly about the grammatical categories mentioned above.

The easiest form of Present tense in English is Present Simple. This form does not indicate the character of the action. We use it when we want to express the ordinary, everyday, habitual actions, which are not happening at the moment of speaking. We use the present simple tense to talk about permanent phenomena, laws of nature, scientific findings, facts, observations, instructions, directions, etc. We use present simple when we want to describe the emotions and feelings of people. If we want to tell something (a story, anecdote, etc.) and aim to present events in more realistic way, we should also opt for Present Simple.

We also use Present Simple when:

  • We see often, seldom, always, never, usually, sometimes in a sentence;
  • It is a conditional sentence with when if, before, after, until, as soon as;
  • We see verbs that describe emotions and feelings, such as love, feel, desire, like, remember, know, etc.

          Present Simple form:

The present simple tense is created by using basic form of the verb:

I live in New York. I play piano.

We add ending -s in third person (she/he/it):

He lives in New York. She plays piano.

Side by side with the previous tense goes Present Continuous. It is used when the action takes place at the particular moment.

We use present continuous when:

  • we speak about something that is happening at the moment;
  • we speak about long-lasting or not finished action;
  • we express temporary action;
  • we see adverbs such as now, at this moment;

Present Continuous can express a long lasting action that is happening at the moment. We can also express the future tense if the action has already been planned (scheduled).

For example:

Please, calm down. I am studying.

I am listening to music now.

What time are you leaving tomorrow?

Present Continuous form:

We form Present Continuous using the present tense of the verb be (am, is, are) + present participle (-ing).

I am dancing in the dark. The birds are singing.

The next tense that we are going to discuss is Present Perfect. It is used when action has started in the past and continues up to the present. That's the main difference between Present Perfect and Past Simple (expresses the action in the past, unrelated to the present). Present Perfect is used when the action happened quite recently (for example, this morning, and the day is not over yet). Such adverbs as yet, already, just, or today, this month, this week, this year are often used in Present Perfect sentences.

For example:

They’ve been dating for 2 years.

She has worked at school all her life.

We also use Present Perfect when:

  • We describe an action we have done several times in the past and continue to do:

I’ve played the violin ever since I was a child.

  • We use Present Perfect in the sentences with since clause:

I’ve played the violin since I was six years old.

  • When we talk about something that occurred in the past but is significant at the moment of speaking:

I can’t drive my car. I’ve lost my keys.

My mother isn’t at work. I think she has gone shopping.

Present Perfect form:

The present tense of the verb have + the past participle of a verb:

Have/has + worked/moved/done etc.

Present Perfect Continuous differs from Present Continuous, because it is used when we speak about long-lasting action that began in the past and continues up to the present.

Present Perfect Continuous markers: for an hour, since yesterday, for a month, since 8 o’clock.

If you do not know exact time of the action and its duration, you should better use Present Continuous.

For example:

We have been studying since 9 o’clock.

She has been driving home for an hour.

Present Perfect Continuous form:

Have/has + been + verb ing.

Verb tenses sample

After getting acquainted with the Present tenses, GetEssayEditor recommends you to pass several tests to reinforce your knowledge.

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