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Present tense

From Teflpedia
For the verb form often referred to as the "present tense (of a verb)" see base form.

The present tense (/ˈprezənʔ ˈtens/) is an inflected tense found in many languages. In English it is one of two tenses, along with the past tense.

Meaning[edit | edit source]

The present tense is used to indicate closeness or proximity.

There is an important distinction to be made between time and inflected tense - the time-tense distinction. The present tense can describe events that occur in past time, present time or future time. This is contrary to its name; more logical suggestions such as "unmarked tense" or “close tense" have been suggested but are unlikely to catch on.

Form[edit | edit source]

Aspect[edit | edit source]

The present tense may be used without aspect (present simple) or may be used with either or both of the perfect and progressive aspects. This results in four aspectual tenses:

Aspect(s) Name(s) Example
Simple (i.e. none) Present simple I do something.
Perfect Present perfect I have done something.
Progressive Present continuous / present progressive I am doing something.
Perfect and progressive Present perfect continuous / present perfect progressive I have been doing something.

Modality[edit | edit source]

Distinct from aspect, the present tense may express modality using modal verbs.

Aspect and modality[edit | edit source]

Aspectual tense Amodal Modal
Present simple Amodal present simple
e.g. I do something
Modal present simple
e.g. I will do something
Present perfect Amodal present perfect
e.g. I have done something
Modal present perfect
e.g. I will have done something
Present progressive Amodal present progressive
e.g. I am doing something
Modal present progressive
e.g. I will be doing something
Present perfect progressive Amodal present perfect progressive
e.g. I have been doing something
Modal present perfect progressive
e.g. I will have been doing something.

Verbs[edit | edit source]

The verb be can be used by itself; all other forms require one or two auxiliary verbs.

The present tense auxiliary verbs are do, be, have; the full modal verbs are “can,” “may,” “must,” “ought (to)", “shall” and “will.” “Dare” and “need” can also be used.

In the case of do, the auxiliary may be hidden (see hidden do).

Pedagogy[edit | edit source]

Learners typically study and acquire the present tense before they start to acquire the past tense. It’s a little complicated though, as the past simple usually precedes the present perfect.