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Learning English as a Foreign Language - The Present Tenses

Updated on January 17, 2014
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Are you learning English as a foreign language or teaching it?

This article will help you understand the present tenses in English grammar. It will show you in what situations to use which tense and how they are formed.

The Present Simple


1. Facts – Storks migrate every year.

2. Routines – I drink water every day.

3. Present story narrative – So I cover up the present just as she is walking through the door.

4. Directions – Take the first right at the T-junction.

5. Articles in the media – Jack the Ripper strikes again!

6. Commentaries – Ronaldo snatches the ball right from under their noses and sends it flying into the back of the net.

7.Habits – He always sings in the shower.


Affirmative: Subject + base form

Negative: Subject + auxiliary verb do not/does not + base form

Interrogative: Auxiliary verb do/does + subject + base form


Contractions

You can contract the auxiliary verbs. People usually contract when speaking.

Does not - doesn’t

Do not – don’t


Third Person Singular Spelling Rules

With 3rd person singular add ‘s’ to the base form – It eats meat

If the verb ends in ‘y’, remove the ‘y’ and add ‘ies’ – He studies English

If the verb ends in ‘ch, sh, s, x, z, o’ add ‘es’ – She watches TV

Irregular verbs: To Have, To Be.

How to form the present simple

Subject
Affirmative
Negative
Interrogative
I
go
don't go
Do I go?
You
go
don't go
Do you go?
He/She/It
goes
doesn't go
Does he/she/it go?
We
go
don't go
Do we go?
They
go
don't go
Do they go?
Source

Present Continuous

1. Actions happening at the time of speaking – I’m doing my homework now, call I call you back later?

2. Temporary actions, continuing for limited period of time but not necessarily happening at the time of speaking – I am doing a TESOL course at the moment

3. Future Arrangements – We’re going to the mountains this weekend

4. Trends – The developing countries are finding it more difficult to cope.

5. Very frequent actions – They are always arguing.


Affirmative: Subject + auxiliary verb To Be + verb +ing

Negative: Subject + auxiliary verb To Be + not + verb +ing

Interrogative: Auxiliary verb To Be + subject + verb +ing


Contractions

In spoken English people contract the verb To Be in this way:

I am - I’m

You are - You’re

He is - He’s

She is - She’s

It is - It’s

We are - We’re

They are - They’re


*Remember! We don't normally use state verbs in the continuous form -

I'm preferring wine to beer - Wrong

I prefer wine to beer - Right

How to form the present continuous

Subject
Auxiliary Affirmative / Negative
Main Verb + ing
I
am / am not
walking
You
are / are not
dreaming
She
is / is not
watching
He
is / is not
having
It
is / is not
doing
We
are / are not
playing
They
are / not
listening
 
 
 
Auxiliary - Interrogative
Subject
Main Verb
Am
I
going?
Are
you
shouting?
Is
she
speaking?
Is
he
arguing?
Is
it
barking?
Are
we
working?
Are
they
finishing?

The Present Tenses - Learning English as a Foreign Language

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Present Perfect

1. To describe something that happened recently – She’s just had a baby.

2. Something that started in the past and has a connection with the present – I’ve lost my keys (I still can’t find them).

3. Unfinished time period – Avalanches have killed many people on Mount Everest (and will continue to kill many more).

4. Time period being described is not of importance – I’ve been to France.


Affirmative: Subject + auxiliary verb Have/Has + past participle

Negative: Subject + auxiliary verb Have/Has + not + past participle

Interrogative: Auxiliary verb Have/Has + subject + past participle


The Past Participle

With regular verbs we form the past participle by adding ‘ed’ to the base verb, much the same way as the past simple. With irregular verbs you must simply learn the past participle as they do not follow the same rules.

Contractions

In spoken English native speakers contract the auxiliary verb To Have in this way:

I have - I’ve

You have - You’ve

She has - She’s

He has - He’s

It has - It’s

We have - We’ve

You have - You’ve

They have - They’ve


Subject
Auxiliary Affirmative / Negative
Main Verb
I
have / haven't
been
You
have / haven't
gone
He
has / hasn't
walked
She
has / hasn't
looked
It
has / hasn't
run
We
have / haven't
done
They
have / haven't
flown
 
 
 
Auxiliary Interrogative
Subject
Main Verb
Have
I
made
Have
you
seen
Has
he
climbed
Has
she
heard
Has
it
learned
Have
we
spoken
Have
they
asked
Source

Present Perfect Continuous

1. To describe something ongoing that has stopped or recently stopped – Your clothes are dirty, have you been working in the garden?

2. To describe an action that happened repeatedly over a period of time, and is likely to continue – They are going to that beach; they’ve been going there for years.


Affirmative: Subject + auxiliary verb Have/Has + been + verb + ing

Negative: Subject + auxiliary verb Have/Has + not + verb + ing

Interrogative: Auxiliary verb Have/Has + subject + been + verb + ing


Contractions

You can contract the auxiliary verb Have/Has in the same way as the present perfect mentioned above. Past participles follow the same rules as above.

How to form the present perfect continuous

Subject
Auxiliary Affirmative / Negative
Been
Verb + ing
I
have / haven't
been
studying
You
have / haven't
been
visiting
She
has / hasn't
been
running
He
has / hasn't
been
jumping
It
has / hasn't
been
eating
We
have / haven't
been
swimming
They
have / haven't
been
crying
 
 
 
 
Auxiliary Interrogative
Subject
Been
Verb + ing
Have
I
been
writing?
Have
you
been
fighting?
Has
she
been
cleaning?
Has
he
been
trying?
Has
it
been
drinking?
Have
we
been
thinking?
Have
they
been
laughing?

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    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 3 years ago from Pune, India

      Well explained Hub, it is useful for many. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Muttface profile image
      Author

      Muttface 3 years ago from Portugal

      Thanks for reading Jainismus!

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