Present Tense

Verbs have forms called tenses that tell you when the action happens.

1. Simple Present Tense

1.1 If the action happens regularly, sometimes or never, use the simple present tense.

  • We always wash our hands before meals.
  • Joe sometimes lends me his bike.
  • Dad jogs in the park every day.
  • We often go to the movies on Saturday.
  • Mr. Ross takes a train to work.

1.2 The simple present tense is also used to state facts.

  • The sun rises every morning.
  • Penguins live in the Antarctica.
  • Dogs love playing in water.
  • The earth goes around the sun.
  • Australia is an island.

1.3 Use the simple present tense to tell the events of a story that is happening now.

  • I arrive at school. I see another girl crying. I ask her why she is sad. She says she hasn’t got any friends to play with. I tell her that she can play with me.

1.4 Use the simple present tense to talk about things that will happen in the future.

  • My little sister starts school tomorrow.
  • The new supermarket opens this Friday.
  • Next week I go on holiday to Japan.
  • We fly to London on Sunday.
  • The train leaves in five minutes.
  • My family moves to a new house next month.

2. Present Progressive Tense

Make the present progressive tense by using am, is or are with a verb that ends in -ing. The ing form of a verb is called the present participle. You use the present participle with am, is or are to make the present progressive tense.

Form the present progressive tense like this:

  • am + present participle
  • is + present participle
  • are + present participle

The present participle is the form of a verb ending with -ing. For example:

  • show + ing = showing
  • come + ing = coming

You have to double the last letter of some verbs before you add -ing. For example:

  • get + ing = getting
  • rob + ing = robbing
  • nod + ing = nodding
  • stop + ing = stopping
  • jog + ing = jogging
  • swim + ing = swimming

The verbs above are all short verbs of just one syllable. They all end with a consonant such as b, d, g, m, p, t and have only one vowel before the consonant.

If a verb ends in e, you usually have to drop the e before you add -ing. For example:

  • chase + ing = chasing
  • cycle + ing = cycling
  • drive + ing = driving
  • smile + ing = smiling

2.1 The present progressive tense is used to talk about things that are continuing to happen. To talk about actions in the present, or things that are still going on or happening now.

  • I am writing a letter.
  • Mom is knitting a sweater for Sally.
  • The phone is ringing.
  • I’m playing chess with my friend.
  • She's riding a horse.
  • He’s taking a walk in the park.
  • The man’s counting the money.
  • They are practicing tai chi.
  • We’re rushing to the airport to meet Mr. Smith.
  • They are still sleeping.
  • They are swimming in the sea.
  • What are they doing?
  • What’s happening?
  • Why aren’t you doing your homework?
  • Aren’t I sitting up straight?

2.2 Use the present progressive tense to talk about things you have planned to do, or things that are going to happen in the future. To form the present progressive tense, use am, is and are as helping verbs or auxiliary verbs.

  • When are you taking me to the zoo?
  • We are having a barbecue later this evening.
  • We are going camping tomorrow.
  • I’m starting piano lessons soon.
  • Jim’s parents are taking him to Texas next week.
  • My favorite TV program is starting in a minute.
  • All our friends are coming.
  • Who’s bringing salad for the barbecue? I am.
  • I am visiting Joe next week.
  • Where are you going for your vacation?
  • What are we eating for dinner?

3. Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense shows action in the indefinite past. The present perfect tense is also used to show action begun in the past and continuing into the present.

The verbs have and has are used as "helping" or auxiliary verbs to form the present perfect tense.

  • Sam has scored two goals.
  • I’ve just finished my shower.
  • Uncle Tom has lost his wallet.
  • John has gone out.
  • The Lees have moved to Ohio.
  • It has not rained for months.
  • Have you found your keys yet?
  • Tim has made two spelling mistakes.
  • They have opened a new shop.
  • It’s been very wet today.

To form the present perfect tense, join have or has to the past participle of the verb:

  • have + past participle
  • has + past participle

The past participle of a regular verb usually ends in -ed, just like the simple past tense. But the past participles of irregular verbs don't follow this rule.