TENSE Present Tense

She is reading a book. Photo by Arthur Krijgsman

Tense of a verb tells us about the time of action or event. It is a form of verb, which is used to show the state and time of an event. Tense helps us to show whether we are referring to the past, present or future.

In English tense must be expressed in all finite verb phrases.

But, most English full verbs have only two tense related forms.

  1. The simple Present  –   find,       look,        live,      leave,    write
  2. The simple past        –    found,   looked,    lived,   left,        wrote

The other tense forms are made with the auxiliary verbs mainly ‘Be’ and ‘Have’ telling us whether the action is in progress or complete.

Auxiliary verbsPastPresentFuture
BeWas/wereIs/am/areWill be/shall be
HaveHadHas/haveWill have/ shall have


 (used in simple present and in future tense with ‘will/shall’)(used in simple past tense)(used in perfect tense with ‘has/have’ verb)(used in continuous tense with ‘ be’ verb) (used with he/she/it)


Tenses are divided on the basis of time as follows:

Tense chart for the word ‘Write’:

SIMPLE/ INDEFINITE  I write.I wrote.I shall write.
CONTINUOUS/ PROGRESSIVE  I am writing.I was writing.I shall be writing.
PERFECT  I have written.I had written.I shall have written.
PERFECT CONTINUOUSI have been writing.I had been writing.I shall have been writing.

Before studying forms and usage of each group we must remember that a type of tense form may represent different time situations.

 For example Present continuous tense may represent:

  1. Things going on at the present- I am writing an essay.
  2. Developing and changing situations – The world is getting hotter.
  3. Future activity – I am visiting Paris next week.


Present tense may be divided into.

  1. Simple Present Tense / Present Indefinite Tense
  2. Present Continuous Tense / Present Progressive Tense
  3. Present Perfect Tense
  4. Present Perfect Continuous / Present Perfect Progressive Tense


SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + V1 + Object I like ice-cream.
InterrogativeDo/Does + Subject + V1 + Object?Do I like ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + do not/ does not + V1 + Object I do not like ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express a habitual action – I go for a walk everyday.
  2. To express general statement or universal facts – The Earth revolves around the sun.
  3. To express an event taking place at the given moment- Here comes the bride.
  4. To express a permanent situation – Everest is the highest peak in the world.
  5. To express a future action that is planned – The plane departs at 6:00 p.m.
  6. To express series of events – We take two cups of milk and boil it.
  7. To express conditional future – I shall go out if it stops raining.
  8. For quotations – The Bible says, ‘Love thy neighbour’.
  9. For imperative sentences – Do your work.
  10. With Non- Progressive Verbs – I like this cake very much.
  11. With Adverbs and Adverbials – He always speaks the truth.
  12. Historical present or graphic present – Alexander invades India.

(In simple present tense Third Person Singular take –s or –es with full verbs. E.g. plays, goes)


Simple Present Tense is used in the following real life activities:

  1. Story Telling – She holds her mother and breaks down.
  2. TV./ Radio Commentaries – Ronaldo passes to Rivaldo, Rivaldo to Carlos and Carlos shoots.
  3. Formal Expressions in Letters – I enclose herewith.
  4. Newspaper Headings – Blind girl climbs Everest.


SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject +is/am/are + V4(-ing form of verb) + Object I am eating ice-cream.
InterrogativeIs/am/are + Subject + V4 + Object?Am I eating ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + is/am/are+ not + V4 + Object I am not eating ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express an action going on at the time of speaking. – It is raining.
  2. To express repeated action – My sister is writing a book.
  3. To indicate an action that is likely to happen. – I am meeting her tomorrow.
  4. To indicate changes. – The earth is getting warmer.
  5. To indicate things which happen very often. – I am always losing my pen.
  6. To indicate distancing /less definite things–I am hoping that the economy will revive.

( when a verb ends with ‘e’ we remove ‘e’ and add ‘ing’. – come – coming:

when a verb ends with ‘ie’ we remove ‘ie’ and add ‘y’. – tie – tying:

when a verb ends with a consonant except ‘r’, w, y’  with a vowel before it we add the consonant twice. – cut – cutting)


I have done it.

You have done a lot for me.

They have missed the bus.

He has left for home.

He has broken his pencil.

Have you ever seen a ghost?

I have lived here for ten years.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + has/have + V3(past participle) + Object I have eaten ice-cream.
InterrogativeHas/ have + Subject + V3 + Object? Have I eaten ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + has/have + V3 + Object I have not eaten ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express an action that has just been completed. – The sun has set.
  2. To express past action the effect of which still continues. – Lily has won a prize.
  3. For habits leading to the present – I have studied hard for years.
  4. For finished events with certain time adverbs – I have already spoken to him.

(Time adverbs- lately, recently, already, never, ever, before, yet)


The Perfect Tense refers to an event in the Past with Present or current relevance. When we use simple Past the focus is on the person, thing or circumstances while present perfect refers to a situation or event.

[ Has – used with – He/she/ it:  Have – used with – I/You /we/they ]


SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject +has/ have+ been + V4(-ing form of verb) + Obj I have been eating ice-cream.
InterrogativeHas/ have + Subject+been + V4 + Object?Have I been eating ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + has/have+ not +been+ V4 + Object I have not been eating ice-cream.

Situational use

  1. For an activity that continued from past and has just been completed.–You have been fighting.
  2. For an action began in the past and is still going on.- She has been working since 9am.
  3. For repeated actions – I have been playing tennis a lot recently.
  4. For expressing actions in sentences beginning with ‘For how long’ or ‘Since when’For how long has she been suffering from the viral infection?
  5. For expressing temporary activities- He has been living here for a month.

( for expressing permanent activities we use Present perfect tense.-He has lived here for thirty years.)


For and Since

The Present perfect continuous tense is often used with ‘for’ and ‘since’. There is a difference between their use.


‘For’ is used to denote a period of time ( time span or duration)

It has been raining for six hours.

He has been working here for twenty years.

He has been suffering for a long time.


‘Since’ is used to denote an action starting from a point of time in the past.

She has been painting since 8 o’clock.

He has been looking for his glasses since he got up.

It has been raining since Sunday.

Present perfect continuous tense is generally used with verbs denoting continuity.

E.g.  rain,    study,    work,      live,      wait,      build.

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