What Is the Present Tense? (with Examples)

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What Is the Present Tense? (with Examples)

The present tense predominantly describes a current event or state of being. However, somewhat unusually, the present tense can also be used to describe past and future events (more on this below). For example:
  • I jump in the lake every Saturday.
  • (present event)
  • I am happy.
  • (present state of being)
  • The meeting ends at 6 o'clock.
  • (future event)
    (See "Uses" for Simple Present Tense in the table below.)
  • A man walks into a bar. Ouch!
  • (past event)
    (See "Uses" for Simple Present Tense in the table below.)
The tense of a verb is determined by when the action took place. The three main tenses are:

Examples of the Types of Present Tense

The present tense is categorised further depending on whether the action is in progress or completed. The four present tenses are:

The 4 Present Tenses Examples Uses
simple present tense
  • I go.
  • I like chocolate.
  • The train gets in at 5 o'clock.
  • A horse walks into a bar, and the barman says, "why the long face?"
The simple present tense is used:

(1) To describe facts and habits.
(2) To describe scheduled events in the future.
(3) To tell stories to make your listener or reader feel more engaged with the story.
present_progressive tense
  • I am going.
  • Barny is looking for the latest brochure.
The present progressive tense is used for an on-going action in the present.
present perfect tense
  • I have gone.
  • David has worked alongside two of the world's finest scientists in the field of entomology.
The present perfect tense is used to describe actions that began in the past and are still continuing into the present.
present perfect progressive
  • I have been going.
  • Amanda has been relying on a pay rise to pay her student loan.
The present perfect progressive tense is used for:

(1) a continuous activity that began in the past and continues into the present, or
(2) a continuous activity that began in past but has now finished (usually very recently).

Diagrams for the Four Present Tenses

The infographics below show how each present tense is formed and a quick overview of how each one is used:

Simple Present Tense

For example:
  • I play every Tuesday

Present Progressive Tense

For example:
  • I am playing at the moment.

Present Perfect Tense

For example:
  • I have played for his team before.

Present Perfect Progressive Tense

For example:
  • I have been playing for a year.
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