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The term “tense” originated from the Latin word “Tempus.” In the English Language, “tense” is applied to indicate the time. Tense is referred as a form taken by a verb to show time of action. It can be primarily categorized into three key groups- Present, Past, and Future.
Past tense is used to indicate things that have already occurred or happened.
Future tense refers to things that will occur in the future and actions yet to take place.
Present tense is used to describe things and actions that are currently happening. It is also referred in terms of actions which are continuous or usually performed. It is also described as a state that currently exists. Read through this article to know all about present tense and its types.
A Verb which indicates the current time is called as present tense. The principal use of present tense is to describe a situation or event happening at present. It is represented by either the base form or by adding “-s” inflection in the ending of the third-person singular. However, sometimes the present tense is used to refer to the past and future events, based on the context in which it is used. Usually, a present tense is used to describe past events or actions when it is closely related to the present. It is also used by writers to describe or narrate a story more dramatically. It is sometimes used to describe a historical fact (referred as historical presents). So, present tense is also represented as being “unmarked of time.”
Different Functions of present tense
As described in the previous paragraph, present tense can be used in mainly six different ways to express actions or events. The most common among them is to describe an event that is happening at the time of writing or speaking. For example “she lives in an apartment” or “she is working at TCS.” Present tense is also used to indicate habitual actions like “I go to the book club every alternate evening” or “I cook every day.” Sometimes present tense is used to state facts, such as scientific knowledge or general truths of how certain things exists in a certain pattern or behaves in a certain manner. For example “earth revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit” or “time passes rapidly.” It is also used when referring to famous quotes or lines written by a particular author. For example (Heraclitus says, “No one steps into the same river twice”). Present tense is also used to express future and past events. According to the “The Scribner Handbook for Writers 3rd edition” by Robert DiYanni and Pat C. Hoy II, the present tense is used as special cases to indicate future time, where it is specifically used in the time-based expressions. During recent times in modern literature, the literary scholars and authors are using present tense for a more dramatic impact and to convey urgency and relevance whereas the past great works were written in past tense.
The examples below describe present tense in different contexts:
- I go to the market every Saturday. He works at the nearby Cafe Shop. (Present event)
- I am angry. (present state of being)
- My flight leaves tomorrow afternoon. He’s meeting a client this evening.(Present tense to describe future event)
- I have just come back from a concert. (Past event)
Different types of present tense
Present tense in further sub divided into four categories
- Simple Present Tense
- Present Continuous Tense
- Present Perfect Tense
- Present Perfect Continuous Tense
Positive: Subject + First form or base form of Verb + object
Negative: Subject +do not/ does not + First form of Verb + object
Interrogative Do / Does + Subject + First form of Verb + object + ?
The base form of verb is used with I, You and other plural objects. In negative and interrogative “do” is added with I, You and other plural objects. However, if the subject is singular then an s/es is added with first form of verb. In negative and interrogative cases “does” is used with singular subjects but s/es is not used in the first form of verb.For e.g
- She understands French
- She does not understand French.
Simple Present Tense is used
To indicate an event in present time
- Here comes the train
To state general fact or universal truth
- Sugar is sweet
- Sun rises in the east
To express habitual, general or regular actions
- He drinks coffee every morning
- I sleep at 10 PM every night
- I brush my teeth twice daily
To indicate present time
- He works in a food joint.
- She has a sports car
To describe a future scheduled event
- The flight lands at 5 AM
- We start the Europe trip next week
- Our holiday begins tomorrow.
To narrate a simple past event
- So I go to the mall yesterday, and the store manager says “The sale is closed”
To use with time clauses when it is present with conjunction of time such as when, then until, no sooner, as soon as etc.
- We shall wait till you join us.
- When you reach there I shall meet you.
In Conditional clauses where the meaning of the sentences remains unchanged even if the sentence is rearranged.
- We will go, when she arrives
- Unless she eat, she will die
- If it does not rain, the crops will not grow
To refer to a famous quote
- Shakespeare says “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”
In exclamatory sentences when used with here, there and so on.
- Here comes the driver!
It describes an action ongoing or continuing at present time which happens while speaking.
Positive: Subject + present tense of “to be” (is/am/are) + Base/First form of Verb with ing + object
Negative: Subject + present tense of “to be” (is/am/are) + not + Base/First form of Verb with ing + object
Interrogative: present tense of “to be” (is/am/are) is/am/are + Subject + Base/First form of Verb with ing + object + ?
- I am standing right now
- She is not studying biology.
- Are they going to the market?
Present Continuous Tense Is used
to express an action going on at the time of speaking
- I am writing an article.
- I am working
To express a temporary action that is not happening at the time of speaking
- I am taking German classes this semester.
For an event planned for the near future.
- I am going out of station tomorrow.
- She is being interrogated
To describe habitual action used with adverbs such as constantly, always, very, constantly etc.
- He is constantly lying
- He is always coming late to school.
It is used to describe an action or an event which has happened in the near past. In this sub division of present tense auxiliary verb Has / Have is added to the third form of verb (past participle), which is used as main verb in this context
Positive: Subject + Has / Have + 3rd form of Verb + object
Negative: Subject + Has/ Have + not + 3rd form of Verb + object
Interrogative Has/ Have + Subject + 3rd form of Verb + object + ?
Has is used with Singular subjects such as he, she, it, name, etc.
Have is used with I and you and other Plural subject such as men, animals
Present perfect tense is used
To describe and action that has been completed shortly
- She has just finished her breakfast
To describe past action that has just been completed
- She has just finished her meeting
To express past event without certain defined time.
- Ganesh has been to Europe several times.
- Have you learnt your lesson?
- She has been in an accident.
To express an action that has happened in the past. However, the effect of which still is ongoing
- She has lived in USA for twenty years.
- I have finished my report.
- She has left her job.
To express an event or an action that has happened at sometime in the past and is still continuing in the present.
- He has endured mental trauma for 10 years.
It is also used with “since” or “for.”
- She has been helping the poor children for two years.
- I have I have lived here since 2000.
This subdivision of present tense is used to express a continuous action which has started in the past and is still ongoing. In this auxiliary verb ‘has been’ or ‘have been’ is used with first form of verb + ing. In addition to this “since” or “for” is applied before time reference.
Positive: Subject + Has / Have been + First form of Verb (ing) + object + since/for
Negative: Subject + Has/ Have + not + been+ First form of Verb (ing) + since/for
Interrogative Has/ Have + Subject +been+ First form of Verb (ing) + object + since/for ?
In present perfect continuous tense
- “Has been” is used withSingular subjects
- “Have been”is used applied with I and you and other Plural subject
- “Since” is usedwith definite time such as since last night , since Monday
- “For”is used with indefinite time
- She has been feeling sick ever since she ate dinner.
- He has been flying jets for 5 years
- I have not been feeling well since morning.
Present Perfect Continuous Tense is applied
To describe an action that has started in the past and is still ongoing.
- They have been writing exam since 9 o’ clock.
To express an unfinished action
- She has been working in this IT firm for ten years
- I have been building the boat.
To draw conclusions
- He is tired, he has been constantly studying.