The Many Manifestations of the Present Tense

bride_of_frankenstein_by_abigaillarson-d5mm0b5Goodness! September is proving to be a very busy month, brimming with change.

Before I get to the topic of today’s post, I’d like to let you know that I have a new ultra-secret project in the works. I can’t say too much, but I can tell you that it will be a unique space for writers—and for readers too. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I will unveil my secret project here, as well as announcing it to my email list. Keep your eye on this space for some exciting news!

Okay, moving on to today’s topic. Recently, I gave you an overview of verb tenses. And I promised to delve into each one in more detail. Today, we’re going to look at the Present Tense and its different forms.

Simple Present I ooze.
Present Progressive I am oozing.
Present Perfect I have oozed.
Present Perfect Progressive I have been oozing.

Simple Present

The simple present tense is typically used to express one of the following things:

  1. Regular or repeated actions in the present.
  2. Facts and general truths.
  3. Habitual actions.
  4. Scheduled events.

However, you’ll notice that we also used the simple present to express actions that happened in the past when we talk to each other (Amy says you snuck out last night; Franz tells us you howled at the moon).

Present Progressive

The present progressive tense is used to express an ongoing action that is happening right now. It is formed by combining the helping verb “be” (am, is, are) with the present participle (verb ending in –ing) of the action verb.

  • Steve! Your ghoul is oozing all over my clean floors!

Note: Typically, only action verbs (and not stative verbs) use the present progressive form.

Present Perfect

The present perfect tense is used to express an action that finished (or was perfected) at an unspecified time in the past, or an action that started in the past and continued to the present.

  • The zombies have eaten six brains.

It’s confusing, right? The tense is present perfect, but sometimes the action it describes takes place only in the past. Well, I didn’t name the tenses. But, for the record, we generally use present perfect to express past actions that have happened more recently (George has transmogrified at every full moon this year.), while we use simple past for events that happened in the more distant past (George’s father transmogrified one hundred years ago.).

Present Perfect Progressive

The present perfect progressive tense is used to express an ongoing action that started in the past, continues in the present, and may continue into the future. It is formed by combining has been/have been with the present participle (verb ending in –ing) of the action verb.

  • Frankenstein’s bride has been primping for hours.

As with present perfect, the present perfect progressive form is often used to express past actions that happened more recently—and this use is often indicated by adding just (Igor has just been cleaning cobwebs from the bridal suite.).

Note: Typically, only action verbs (and not stative verbs) use the present perfect progressive form.

Okay, so that is the present tense and all its forms. We’ll look at past tense in the not-too-distant future.


Image credit: AbigailLarson @ deviantART

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8 thoughts on “The Many Manifestations of the Present Tense

  1. can you write a short book of these tenses and vocabulary you have given us in the past, i’d love to have it. I t will be a great book for my shelf. Thank you Suzanne. Of course I’d love to buy it.

    1. Thanks for a great idea, Ranu! I will definitely put together a booklet about the verb tenses and their forms. And I’d be happy to put one together for my Vocabulary Series too. Thanks so much for your ongoing support – it means the world to me. 🙂

  2. IHello, I’ve just read your lesson about present simple and the present continuous, but the present continuous is quite wrong it is not about progressive aspect at all, grammarian are wrong since the begining have you ever studied it thoroughly, it doesn’t add up at all.

    Manuel

  3. The tenses are confusing to me… It does give me much more admiration for those who tackle learning English as a second language, though! Great post. One that I will visit again so it can all sink in 🙂

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