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Guide to Present Tenses

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The Basics: Present Tenses:

There are two present tenses: The present simple and the present continuous. The two tenses are quite different. Generally, the present simple is used to refer to everyday habits that you have.

Use the present simple to talk about activities or routines which take place on a regular basis.

Tom takes the A train to work every day.
Peter usually gets home at seven in the evening.

The present continuous is usually used to refer to events happening at the present moment in time.

They're doing their homework at the moment.
Mary's playing tennis with Tom at the club right now.

Present Simple Structure:

Positive

Subject + Verb + Objects

I, You, We, They -> eat lunch at noon.

Subject + Verb + s + Objects

He, She, It -> works well in any situation.

Negative

S + do not (don't) + Verb + Objects

I, You, We, They -> don't enjoy opera.

S + does not (doesn't) + Verb + Objects

He, She, It -> doesn't belong to the club.

Questions

(Why, What, etc.) + do + S + Verb + Objects?

Do -> I, you, we, they -> work in this town?

(Why, What, etc.) + does + S + Verb + Objects?

Does -> he, she, it -> live in this city?

Present Continuous Structure:

Positive

Subject + conjugate the helping verb "be" + verb + -ing.

I'm, You're, He's, She's, We're, You're, They're -> working today.

Negative

Subject + conjugate the helping verb "be" + not + verb + -ing.

I'm not, You aren't, He isn't, She isn't, We aren't, You aren't, They aren't -> coming this evening.

Questions

Question word + conjugate the helping verb 'be' + subject + verb + -ing

What -> are you, they -> doing this afternoon?
What -> is he, she -> doing this afternoon?

Study Present Tenses in Depth:

Here are detailed guides to the present simple and the present continuous tenses. Each guide provides situations, common time expressions used with the tense, as well as examples.

These guides were prepared especially for beginners and include dialogues and a short quiz.

Present Simple for Beginners
Present Continuous for Beginners

It's also important to know how to use adverbs of frequency with the present simple. Adverbs of frequency such as usually, often, etc. are used to tell how often you do something.

I often go out on Saturday nights.
They usually take the bus to work.

Test Your Knowledge of Present Tenses:

Once you've studied the rules - or if you already know the rules - test your knowledge:

Present Simple Quiz
Present Continuous Quiz
Present Simple vs. Present Continuous Quiz
Adverbs of Frequency Quiz

Teach a Lesson about the Present Tenses:

There are five absolute beginner lessons related to the present simple on the site:

Lesson for the present simple positive form
Lesson for the present simple negative form
Lesson on present simple question form
Lesson on using adverbs of frequency with the present simple
Lesson on talking about daily habits with the present simple

These lessons are great for helping students learn by rote, rather than through grammar exercises and serve as a good introduction to the tenses for false beginners.

For the present continuous, here is a descriptive activity helping learners use the present continuous.

Activities Concerning Present Tenses:

Here are some fun classroom games that you can use in class, or on your own which will help you with giving instructions.

Simon Says
Colored Lego Blocks

Finally, this grammar chant will help you practice the present simple - especially the third person singular (he, she, it)

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