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Present tense

For other uses, see Present tense (disambiguation).

The present tense is a grammatical tense whose principal function is to locate a situation or event in present time.[1] The term "present tense" is usually used in descriptions of specific languages to refer to a particular grammatical form or set of forms; these may have a variety of uses, not all of which will necessarily refer to present time. For example, in the English sentence My train leaves tomorrow morning, the verb form leaves is said to be in the present tense, even though in this particular context it refers to an event in future time. Similarly, in the historical present, the present tense is used to narrate events that occurred in the past.

There are two common types of present tense form in most Indo-European languages: the present indicative (the combination of present tense and indicative mood) and the present subjunctive (the combination of present tense and subjunctive mood).

Present tense may be denoted by the glossing abbreviation PRES or PRS.


The present indicative of most verbs in modern English has the same form as the infinitive, except for the third-person singular form, which takes the ending -[e]s. The verb be has the forms am, is, are. For details see English verbs. For the present subjunctive, see English subjunctive.

A number of multi-word constructions exist to express combinations of present tense with aspect. The basic form of the present tense is called the simple present; there are also constructions known as the present progressive (or present continuous) (e.g. am writing), the present perfect (e.g. have written), and the present perfect progressive (e.g. have been writing).

Use of the present tense does not always imply present time. In particular, the present tense is often used to refer to future events (I am seeing James tomorrow; My train leaves at 3 o'clock this afternoon). This is particularly the case in condition clauses and many other adverbial subordinate clauses: If you see him,...; As soon as they arrive... There is also the historical present, in which the present tense is used to narrate past events.

For details of the uses of present tense constructions in English, see Uses of English verb forms. The formula: Positive: S + V1 (s / es) Negative: S + DO / DOES + NOT + V1 Question: DO / DOES + S + V1

It is used to express an action in present time, habitual or usual actions, a daily event or a universal fact. It is used to express an action in present time which is usually performed on a regular basis. For example a student says, "I go to school." It is a daily activity of a student to go to school, so such actions are expressed by the present simple tense.

Positive Sentence

    • Subject + Main verb + Object
    • Subject + 1st form of verb (or base verb) + Object

Note: If the subject in a sentence is he, she, it, or a singular noun, then “s” or “es” is added to the base form of the verb. Examples:

        I write a letter. 
        He gets up early in the morning.
        The Sun rises in the east.

Negative Sentences

  • Subject + auxiliary verb +NOT + Main verb +object
  • Subject + Do not/Does not + 1st form of verb (or base form) + object


        I do not write a letter.
        He does not get up early in the morning.
        The Sun does not rise in the north.

Note: In a negative sentence the auxiliary verb "do" or "does", along with "not", is used. If the subject in a sentence is he, she, it, or a singular noun, then “Does not” is used after the subject in the sentence. Otherwise, “Do not” is used after subject in sentence. “s” or “es” is not added to the main verb in a negative sentence.

Interrogative Sentence

  • Auxiliary verb + Subject + Main verb + Object
  • Do/Does + Subject + 1st for of verb (or base verb) + Object


        Does he get up early in the morning?
        Does the Sun rise in the east?

Positive Sentences

         I sing a song.
         He drinks water.
         They read lessons.
         Birds chirp.
         John reaches home in time.
         Water maintains its surface level.

Negative Sentences

         He does not drink water.
         They do not read lessons.
         Birds do not chirp.
         John does not reach home in time.
         Water does not maintain its surface level.

Interrogative Sentences

       Does he drink water?
       Do they read lessons?
       Do birds chirp?
       Does John reach home in time?
       Does water maintain its surface level?

Hellenic Languages

Modern Greek present indicative tense

In Modern Greek, the present tense is used in a similar way to the present tense in English, and can also represent the present continuous. As with some other conjugations in Greek, some verbs in the present tense accept different (but equivalent) forms of use for the same person. What follows are examples of present tense conjugation in Greek for the verbs βλέπω (see), τρώω (eat) and αγαπώ (love).

  βλέπω τρώω, τρώγω αγαπώ, αγαπάω
εγώ I βλέπω τρώω, τρώγω αγαπώ, αγαπάω
εσύ thou βλέπεις τρως, τρώεις αγαπάς
αυτός/αυτή/αυτό he/she/it βλέπει τρώει, τρώγει αγαπά(ει)
εμείς we βλέπουμε τρώμε, τρώγομε, τρώγουμε αγαπάμε, αγαπούμε
εσείς you (pl.) βλέπετε τρώτε, τρώγετε αγαπάτε
αυτοί/αυτές/αυτά they βλέπουν(ε) τρών(ε), τρώγουν(ε) αγαπούν(ε), αγαπάν(ε)

Romance languages

The Romance languages are derived from Latin, and in particular western Vulgar Latin. As a result, their usages and forms are similar.

Latin present indicative tense

The Latin present tense can be translated as progressive or simple present. Here are examples of the present indicative tense conjugation in Latin.

  plicāre debēre dicere cupere scīre
conjugation 1st 2nd 3rd 3rd 4th
ego plicō debeō dīcō cupiō sciō
tu plicās debēs dīcis cupis scīs
is, ea, id plicat debet dicit cupit scit
nos plicāmus debēmus dīcimus cupimus scīmus
vos plicātis debētis dīcitis cupitis scītis
ei, eae, ea plicant debent dīcunt cupiunt sciunt

French present indicative tense

In French, the present tense is used similarly to that of English. Below is an example of present tense conjugation in French.

  parler perdre finir partir
je parle perds finis pars
tu parles perds finis pars
il/elle/on parle perd finit part
nous parlons perdons finissons partons
vous parlez perdez finissez partez
ils/elles parlent perdent finissent partent

To express (and emphasise) the present continuous, expressions such as "en train de" or "en cours de" may be used. For example, Jean est en train de manger, may be translated as John is eating, John is in the middle of eating. On est en train de chercher un nouvel appartement may be translated as We are looking for a new apartment, we are in the process of finding a new apartment.

Italian present indicative tense

In Italian, the present tense is used similarly to that of English. What follows is an example of present indicative tense conjugation in Italian.

  parlare vedere sentire
io parlo vedo sento
tu parli vedi senti
egli/ella parla vede sente
noi parliamo vediamo sentiamo
voi parlate vedete sentite
essi/esse parlano vedono sentono

Portuguese and Spanish present indicative tense

The present tenses of Portuguese and Spanish are similar in form, and are used in similar ways. What follows are examples of the present indicative conjugation in Portuguese.

  falar comer insistir
eu falo como insisto
tu falas comes insistes
ele/ela/você fala come insiste
nós falamos comemos insistimos
vós falais comeis insisteis
eles/elas falam comem insistem

There follow examples of the corresponding conjugation in Spanish.

  hablar comer insistir
yo hablo como insisto
hablas comes insistes
él / ella / usted habla come insiste
nosotros hablamos comemos insistimos
vosotros habláis coméis insistís
ellos / ellas / ustedes hablan comen insisten

Slavic languages

Bulgarian present indicative tense

In Bulgarian, the present indicative tense of imperfective verbs is used in a very similar way to the present indicative in English. It can also be used as present progressive. Below is an example of present indicative tense conjugation in Bulgarian.

  писати* говорити* искати* отваряти*
аз пиша
ти пишеш
той, тя, то пише
ние пишем
вие пишете
те пишат

*Archaic, no infinitive in the modern language.

Macedonian present tense

The present tense of the Macedonian language is made of the imperfective verbs. The following table shows the conjugation of the verbs write (пишува/pišuva), speak (зборува/zboruva), want (сака/saka) and open (отвaра/otvara).

  пишува зборува сака отвaрa
јас пишувам зборувам сакам отвaрам
ти пишуваш зборуваш сакаш отвaраш
тој, таа, тоа пишува зборува сака отвaра
ние пишуваме зборуваме сакаме отвaраме
вие пишувате зборувате сакате отвaрате
тие пишуваат зборуваат сакаат отвaраат

See also


  1. ^ Comrie, Bernard, Tense, Cambridge University Press, 1985.

External links

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