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Overview of Present Tenses

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How do you form the four present tenses in English, and when do you use them? Find out in this ESL lesson.

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Overview of Present Tenses

  1. 1. Divide a piece of paper into four sections. Draw a picture in each quarter according to the following instructions: 1. Something you do every day. 2. Something you are doing right now. 3. Something you did in the past at an unspecified time. 4. Something you started in the past which continues until now.
  2. 2. Now tell your partner about each picture using just one sentence.
  3. 3. 1.I eat breakfast every day. 2.I’m teaching a class right now. 3.I have swum with sharks. 4.I have been living in China for several years. These are the present tenses in English.
  4. 4. Beginning to Master English Tenses
  5. 5. Tenses – an overview  There are 12 tenses in English  3 times: ○ Past, present, future  4 aspects: ○ Simple, continuous, perfect, perfect continuous  It is important to know how and when to use tenses.  This will help your speaking, writing, listening, and reading.
  6. 6. Present Simple Form Positive Negative Question I talk. I do not talk. Do I talk? You talk. You do not talk. Do you talk? We talk. We do not talk. Do we talk? They talk. They do not talk. Do they talk? He talks. He does not talk. Does he talk? She talks. She does not talk. Does she talk? It talks. It does not talk. Does it talk?
  7. 7. Present Simple - Form Affirmative: (subject + base form [+s/es])  I work We work  You work You work  He/she/it works They work Negative: (subject + aux. verb ‘do’ + not + base form) (Note that don’t and doesn’t often appear as do not and does not in written text)  I don’t work We don’t work  You don’t work You don’t work  He/she/it doesn’t work They don’t work Question: (aux. verb ‘do’ + subject + base form)  Do I work? Do we work?  Do you work? Do you work?  Does he/she/it work? Do they work?
  8. 8. Now study these examples of third person singular (he/she/it) forms and think about the rules for forming them. watches does bats preys mixes tries looks goes thinks takes tosses fishes
  9. 9. Present Simple - Form How to form the third person singular Most verbs  Add s to the base form of the verb – sits, walks Verbs ending in a consonant plus y, change y to i and add es  Try – tries  Hurry – hurries Verbs ending in o, s ,z, x, ch, and sh, add es  Miss – misses  Fix - fixes  Wash - washes  Watch - watches
  10. 10. Present Simple - Form In the negative form, the auxiliary verb doesn’t has the s so the main verb doesn’t need an s – e.g. She doesn’t work. The same applies with does in questions.  Does he walks?  Does he walk?  He doesn’t walks.  He doesn’t walk.
  11. 11. Present Simple - Use 1. Habitual or routine actions 􀂾 He goes to the market every weekend. 2. Permanent situations, general truth, and facts 􀂾 The sun rises in the east. 3. Directions and instructions 􀂾 Turn right at the corner and walk for fifty meters. 4. Newspaper headlines 􀂾 Stock market falls to all time low. 5. Present stories 􀂾 So I open the door and what do I see but a policeman in a pink uniform.
  12. 12. Present Simple - Use Most common use is general or permanent situations  What do frogs eat? (not what are frogs eating?)  The sky is blue.  Karen works in a supermarket.  Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
  13. 13. Present Simple - Use The other most common use is repeated actions.  I play golf every Wednesday.  She goes home on weekends.  We meet on Tuesdays.
  14. 14. Test Typical mistakes/errors Here are some examples of the most common problems that students have with the present simple. Correct them and make note of the error or mistake. 􀂾 She walk to school everyday. 􀂾 He no(t) like to watch TV. 􀂾 Where lives your father? 􀂾 She go often to Paris. 􀂾 She doesn’t likes football. 􀂾 I’m go to the post office tomorrow.
  15. 15. Answers 􀂾 She walks to school everyday. 􀂾 He doesn’t like to watch TV. 􀂾 Where does your father live? 􀂾 She often goes to Paris. 􀂾 She doesn’t like football. 􀂾 I’m going to the post office tomorrow. (not present simple!)
  16. 16. Present Continuous - Form Form The present continuous tense is made with the present simple tense of the auxiliary verb to be and the present participle (verb plus ing – working) of the main verb. Affirmative: (subject + aux. verb ‘be’ + verb+ing)  I am learning. Negative: (subject + aux. verb ‘be’ + not + verb+ing)  He isn’t learning. Question: (aux. verb ‘be’ + subject + verb+ing)  Are they learning?
  17. 17. Present Continuous - Form Positive Negative Question I am singing. I am not singing. Am I singing? You are singing. You are not singing. Are you singing? We are singing. We are not singing. Are we singing? They are singing. They are not singing. Are they singing? He is singing. He is not singing. Is he singing? She is singing. She is not singing. Is she singing? It is singing. It is not singing. Is it singing?
  18. 18. Present Continuous - Uses 1. To talk about an action that is in progress at the time of speaking – I’m doing some housework. 2. To talk about a temporary action that is not necessarily in progress at the time of speaking – I am reading a good book at the moment. 3. To emphasize very frequent actions (often with always) – She is always biting her nails. 4. To describe developing situations – The weather is turning cold. 5. To refer to a regular action around a point of time – He’s usually working at this time.
  19. 19. Present Continuous - Uses Most common use: Something is happening (or not happening) right now. Examples: You are not swimming now. Are you sleeping? I am sitting. I am not standing. They are reading their books. What are you doing? Why aren't you doing your homework?
  20. 20. Present Continuous - Uses Next common use: Something we’re doing, but not right now. Examples: (All of these sentences can be said while eating dinner in a restaurant.)  I’m not studying to be a vet anymore.  I changed my major and now I’m studying to be a dentist!  My brother is going to night school to train for a new position at his job.  I’m reading a really wonderful self-help book.
  21. 21. Non-Progressive Verbs Most non-action verbs are not normally used in the continuous forms, we usually use the simple form instead. Following are some of the most common: Like, love, hate, understand, want, believe, hear, own, owe, seem, appear, wish, mean, remember.  She is loving this chocolate ice cream. Not Correct  She loves this chocolate ice cream. Correct
  22. 22. Test Typical student errors/mistakes Make a note of the nature of each of the following errors/mistakes: 􀂾 He watching T.V. 􀂾 We are have a meeting. 􀂾 Do you not coming to the cinema? 􀂾 I’m working hard every day. 􀂾 I’m believing in God.
  23. 23. Answers 􀂾 He is watching T.V. 􀂾 We are having a meeting. 􀂾 Are you not coming to the cinema? 􀂾 I work hard every day. (repeated action) 􀂾 I believe in God.
  24. 24. Present Perfect Form Subject + have/has + past participle (with regular verbs the past participle is verb plus ed – worked. There are however many irregular verbs such as write – written) Affirmative: (subject + aux. verb ‘have’ + past participle) Negative: (subject + aux. verb ‘have’ + not + past participle) Question: (aux. verb ‘have’ + subject + past participle)
  25. 25. Positive Negative Question I have visited Paris. I have not visited Paris. Have I visited Paris? You have visited Paris. You have not visited Paris. Have you visited Paris? We have visited Paris. We have not visited Paris. Have we visited Paris? They have visited Paris They have not visited Paris. Have they visited Paris? He has visited Paris. He has not visited Paris. Has he visited Paris? She has visited Paris. She has not visited Paris. Has she visited Paris? It has visited Paris. It has not visited Paris. Has it visited Paris?
  26. 26. Present Perfect - Uses 1. Finished actions/states that happened at an indefinite time. It refers to general experience without specific detail.  She has eaten sushi. 2. Completed past actions carried out in an unfinished time period at the time of speaking.  She has had four coffees this morning.  They have been to the office twice today.
  27. 27. Present Perfect - Uses 3. Something which began in the past and is still true now, at the time of speaking. We don’t know if this is likely to continue or not.  We’ve lived in Beijing for six years.  They’ve been a couple since 2012.  I’ve worked in finance for almost a decade. 4. When we describe past actions with present results.  Oh no! I’ve left my purse at home.  Can you help me? I’ve lost one of my contact lenses.
  28. 28. Contractions
  29. 29. Present Perfect - Uses For/Since Since or for with the present perfect  We’ve lived here for five years.  I haven’t slept for 48 hours.  They’ve been at home since 8 o’clock.  She has been a doctor since September. The rule with for or since:  We use for with periods of time. (e.g. a week, 6 months)  We use since with points of time. (e.g. Monday, 1984) to really mean ‘from’.
  30. 30. Test 􀂾 I am a secretary for five years. 􀂾 I have seen him yesterday. 􀂾 She’s liked him since six months. 􀂾 He has eated all the pizza.
  31. 31. Answers 􀂾 I have been a secretary for five years. 􀂾 I saw him yesterday. (change tense) 􀂾 She’s liked him for six months. 􀂾 He has eaten all the pizza.
  32. 32. Present Perfect Continuous Form Affirmative: (subject + aux. verb ‘have’ + been + verb+ing) Negative: (subject + aux. verb ‘have’ + not + been + verb+ing) Question: (aux. verb ‘have’ + subject + been + verb+ing)
  33. 33. Positive Negative Question I have been studying. I have not been studying. Have I been studying? You have been studying. You have not been studying. Have you been studying? We have been studying. We have not been studying. Have we been studying? They have been studying. They have not been studying. Have they been studying? He has been studying. He has not been studying. Has he been studying? She has been studying. She has not been studying. Has she been studying? It has been studying. It has not been studying. Has it been studying?
  34. 34. Present Perfect Continuous Usages 1. For describing an ongoing activity and the length of time that it has continued.  I’ve been learning Spanish for six months.  They’ve been caring for that sick dog since last Monday. 2. To describe a recently finished, uninterrupted activity which has a present result  She’s hungry because she’s been dieting recently.
  35. 35. Test  1. We …………………….. in this street for twenty years. (live)  2. He …………………… in the garden since morning. (work)  3. It ……………………. (rain) since yesterday.  4. I ………………… this laptop for three years. (use)  5. The workers ………………….. higher wages for a long time. (demand)
  36. 36. Answers  1. We have been living in this street for twenty years.  2. He has been working in the garden since morning.  3. It has been raining since yesterday.  4. I have been using this laptop for three years.  5. The workers have been demanding higher wages for a long time.
  37. 37.  Get a full guide to the present tenses at TED-IELTS.

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