How Do We Use The Present Simple Tense?

subject + auxiliary verb + main verb
do base

There are three important exceptions to remember about this rule:

  • Do not use the auxiliary verb for positive sentences.
  • Add -s to the main verb or -es to the auxiliary when you are using third person singular (he, she, it, etc).
  • Do not ever use an auxiliary when the verb “to be” is used.

Take a look at this table:

subject auxiliary verb main verb
+ I, You, We, They read a book.
He, She, It reads a book.
I, You, We, They do not read a book.
He, She, It does not read a book.
? Do(auxiliary verb) I, you, we, they(subject) read a book?
Does(auxiliary verb) he, she, it(subject) read a book?

Take a look at the examples in the following table of the verb “to be” in the present simple tense. There is no auxiliary.

subject main verb
+ I am hungry.
You, We, They are hungry.
He, She, It is hungry.
I am not scared.
You, We, They are not scared.
He, She, It is not scared.
? Am(main verb) I(subject) fun?
Are(main verb) you, we, they(subject) fun?
Is(main verb) he, she, it(subject) fun?

When Do We Use The Present Simple Tense?

Here are some times when we use the present tense:

  • If the action is broad
  • If the action happens frequently in the past, present and future
  • If the action is not just happening now
  • If the statement is always true
Gabby studies for a test.
past present future
______________________________________________
Gabby needs to study for a test in order to get a good grade. She does it in the past, the present, and the future.

Take a look at the following examples:

  • I wake up early in the morning.
  • My tooth hurts.
  • Do you work today?
  • The bird flies over the trees.
  • The rabbit climbs in its burrow.
  • The compass points north.

The verb “to be” can be used to make the present simple tense more specific. By using the present simple tense, we can talk about the present, or what is happening now. Take a look at the following examples of the verb “to be” being used. Some statements are happening now and some are general statements.

Does he work?

The drink is cold.

I bite into the pizza.

past present future
_________________
These sentences are happening now.
Why do you always make me mad?

He is a hard worker.

The dog is man’s best friend.

past present future
_________________________________________________
These sentences are general in the past, present, and future.

 

How Do We Create The Present Continuous Tense?

subject + auxiliary verb + main verb
be base + ing

Take a look at the following table:

subject auxiliary verb main verb
+ I am listening to music.
+ They are going to a concert.
She is not working today.
I am not drawing a picture.
? Is(auxiliary verb) she(subject) studying for a test?
? Are(auxiliary verb) we(subject) playing together?

 

How Do We Make The Present Perfect Tense?

Take a look at the following table:

subject + auxiliary verb + main verb
have past participle

 

subject auxiliary verb main verb
+ I have been to England.
+ You have given back.
He has not stopped fighting.
We have not visited our family.
? Have(auxiliary verb) I(subject) succeeded?
? Have(auxiliary verb) we(subject) finished studying?

Contractions With The Present Perfect Tense

When we speak using present perfect tenses, we usually connect the subject and auxiliary verb with a contraction. We also do this when we write.

I have I’ve
You have You’ve
He has He’s
She has She’s
It has It’s
Myranda has Myranda’s
The dog has dog’s
We have We’ve
They have They’ve

Take a look at the following examples:

  • He’s finished his work for today.
  • Myranda’s graduated from college.
  • We’ve watched a show at the theater.

How do we use the Present Perfect Tense?

When we use the present perfect tense, there is always a connect with the past and the present. There are three different uses for this tense:

  • experience
  • change
  • continuing situation

For Experience

We sometimes use present perfect tense when we refer to our experiences from the past.Take a look at the following examples and table:

I have finished my homework.

He has written a book.

Michael has drank a soda.

past present future
___________________
The action or statement took place in the past. I have gone to sleep.

The event is connected with the past when it happened in the past.

The event is connected with the present when your experience happened in the past, and you are talking about it in the present. If you have a memory of it, then it is connected to the past.

For Change

We use present perfect tense when we are talking about a change or have new information:

He has gone to the doctor.
past present future
+
He did not go to the doctor yesterday. Now he has gone to the doctor.

 

Isabel has a new job.
past present future
+
Last week Isabel had no job. Now she has a new job.

 

When are you going to finish?
past present future
+
Did you finish earlier? Are you finished now?

 

The rabbit was given a carrot.
past present future
+
Yesterday the rabbit did not have a carrot. Now it has a carrot.

Connection with past: the past is the opposite of the present.

Connection with present: the present is the opposite of the past.

For A Continuing Situation

We use the present perfect tense when we talk about a continuing situation. This is when an event started in the past, continues in the present, and will continue into the future. This is not an actionable event, it is a state of something. When we refer to a state, we use the words “for” or “since”.

I have been studying for hours.

He has been there since last week.

How long has she been away?

past present future
________________ ________________ ________________
The situation began in the past. It continues to the present. It will continue into the future.

Connection with past: the situation started in the past.

Connection with present: the situation continues in the present.

For And Since With Present Perfect Tense

We often use the words “for” and “since” with the present perfect tense. We use “for” when referring to a certain period of time, such as: 5 minutes, 3 days, 7 weeks, 5 months, and 8 years. We use “since” when we refer a certain period of time that took place or started in the past, such as: Tuesday, May 5th, and 8:00 am.

for since
a period of time a point in past time
______________ ____X____
5 minutes 5:00 pm
2 days Saturday
5 months May
3 decades 2010
1 century 1999

Take a look at the following examples:

  • He has worked since 7:00 am.
  • It has been many years since I’ve seen my parents.
  • Myranda has been an actress for four years.
  • I have not heard from my boyfriend for five days.
  • That has been my favorite song since I was a teenager.
  • I have been waiting for three hours.

Constructing the Present Perfect Continuous Tense

subject + auxiliary verb + auxiliary verb + main verb
have/has been base + ing

Take a look at the following table of present perfect continuous tense:

subject auxiliary verb auxiliary verb main verb
+ I have been reading.
+ He has been playing video games.
We have not been asleep today.
She has not been working.
? Have

(auxiliary verb)

you

(subject)

been traveling lately?
? Has

(auxiliary verb)

she been baking cookies?

 

Using the Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous tense can be used in two ways. It usually connects with the present, or now.

For Something That Has Stopped Just Now Or Recently

We use the present perfect continuous tense when we want to show the result of an action that started in the past and stopped in the present.

We have been studying hard for our exam.
past present future
______________________________________
Recent action. Result now.

Take a look at these examples:

  • We are not hungry because we had dinner.
  • Her painting is complete because she has been working on it all day.
  • He made a bad grade because he did not study for his test.

Action Continuing Up To Now

We also use the present perfect continuous tense when we talk about an event that happened in the past and is continued now.

He has been petting his dog for ten minutes.
past present future
______________________________________
Action started in past. Action is continuing now.

Take a look at these examples:

  • You have been on vacation for more than a week.
  • She has been cooking Thanksgiving Day dinner all day.
  • They have been playing video games all night.
  • What have you been doing all day?

Present Perfect Continuous Tense Using For and Since

We use the words “for” and “since” when we use present perfect tense.

  • We use “since” when we talk about a certain point of time in the past: 11pm, September 3rd, August
  • We use “for” when we talk about a certain period of time: 6 days, 2 months, 5 years
for since
a period of time a point of time in the past
_____________ ____X___
two days 2:00 pm
five weeks January 15th
six months yesterday
fifteen years 1989
millenia last century
decades last night
seven minutes we had dinner
etc etc

Take a look at the following examples:

  • We have known one another for two decades.
  • She has been eating since we had dinner.
  • Katie has been home for five minutes.
  • The baby has been asleep since last night.
  • They have been planning on getting married for seven months.
  • His family has owned that house since last century.

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