Present Tense

Introduction

In an effort to populate the “Grammar Roadmap” nodes in the “Helpful Links” section on the right side of most LEWWWP pages, I am presenting this lesson on present tense. Only active voice will be covered in this lesson.

The present tense talks about the “here and now”, the present time, the current state of existence. This tense is generally used to express these kinds of circumstances:

  1. To describe a present action or condition. (I hear you. Here comes the bus.)
  2. To state a general truth. (The sky is blue. September has 30 days.)
  3. To describe a non-action, routine, or habitual action. (I like music. I run every Tuesday.)
  4. To express a future time. (The train leaves at 4:00 pm.)

Context is very important.

We cannot simply say “The train leaves.” The meaning is not complete to fully describe the present circumstance.

To use #1 (present action), we must say:

“The train is leaving.”

To use #2 (general truth) or #3 (habitual action), we must say

“The train leaves here every day at 4:00 pm”.

To use #4 (future time), we must say

“The trains leaves at 4:00 pm today.” (a time after now must be used)

“The train leaves tomorrow morning.”

Forms of the Present Tense

There are three forms of the present tense, and each has a specific purpose or usage.

For example, for “to have”, its three forms would be:

  • I have
  • I am having
  • I do have

Simple Present Tense

This is the bare infinitive of a verb (i.e., omit the “to” from the infinitive). Its four usages have been described above in the Introduction section. Some examples:

  • She sees you.
  • A year normally has four seasons: spring, summer, autumn/fall, and winter.
  • I know him.
  • I travel to work every day.
  • We leave at daybreak.

Progressive Present Tense

This tense is formed by using the verb “to be” (is/am/are) and the present participle of a verb — the -ing form of the verb. It is used when it is necessary to emphasize that an action is in progress at the moment of speaking. This form of the present tense could be used for Usage #1 in the Introduction section (present action or condition). Some examples:

  • I am hearing a ringing noise in my ear. (patient talking to the doctor)
  • The bus is coming.
  • The train is leaving.

Emphatic Present Tense

This tense is formed by using the verb “to do” (do/does) and the bare infinitive of the verb. It is used for emphasis, especially when refuting or correcting a previous statement. Also, when the verb must express a negative condition (not), this form of the present tense must be used.

Some examples:

  • You said I don’t hear you, but I do hear you.
  • You said the bus doesn’t stop here, but it does stop here.
  • The train does not leave at 2:00 pm. It leaves at 4:00 pm.

Understanding the Nuances of Usage of the Present Tense

Which of the following stand-alone sentences (without any context) are correct?
(Explain your answer.)

  1. I leave.
  2. I am leaving.
  3. I do leave.

Answer

Which of the following stand-alone sentences (without any context) are correct?
(Explain your answer.)

  1. I marry Susan.
  2. I marry Susan tomorrow.
  3. I marry Susan at 2:00 today.

Answer

Which of the following stand-alone sentences (without any context) are correct?
(Explain your answer.)

  1. The train leaves.
  2. The train leaves at 4:00 pm today.
  3. The train is leaving at 4:00 pm today.
  4. The train does not leave at 1:00 pm; it leaves at 4:00 pm.

Answer

Self-Assessment (What Did You Learn?)

Mark the following stand-alone sentences as right or wrong regarding their usage of the present tense.

  1. He is eating apples every morning.
  2. She works every day.
  3. They are walking to the park in a few minutes.
  4. The dog is barking and disturbing the neighbors.
  5. I do love you so much.
  6. The bus comes now.
  7. The bus comes here every day.
  8. I love apples, but I don’t like peaches.
  9. You don’t understand; it does have a purpose.
  10. I play games here every day; in fact, I am playing here now. (talking on a phone)

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Let me know if I omitted anything about present tense that you would like to see included here.

One comment

  1. I have a few questions.

     

    1. What is the difference between:

    The train leaves tomorrow morning. and

    The train will leave tomorrow morning.

    I guess the train is certain to leave tomorrow morning and the present tense states a fact.

     

    2. I heard somewhere that the present participle can be used to express near future events. For example, “We are leaving soon.” Is it the correct usage?

     

    1. He is eating apples every morning. ❌
    2. She works every day. ✅
    3. They are walking to the park in a few minutes. ❌
    4. The dog is barking and disturbing the neighbors. ✅
    5. I do love you so much. ✅
    6. The bus comes now. ❌
    7. The bus comes here every day. ✅
    8. I love apples, but I don’t like peaches. ✅
    9. You don’t understand; it does have a purpose. ✅
    10. I play games here every day; in fact, I am playing here now. (talking on a phone) ✅

     

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