Present Tenses in English – contrasted

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1. Use

Simple Present Present Progressive Present Perfect Present Perfect Progressive
  • repeated actions
  • sequence of actions in the present
  • things in general
action happening at the moment of speaking
  • result of an action in the past is important in the present
  • recently completed action
  • state beginning in the past and still continuing
action beginning in the past and still continuing (focus is on the action)

2. Signal words

Simple Present Present Progressive Present Perfect Present Perfect Progressive
  • every day
  • sometimes
  • always
  • often
  • usually
  • seldom
  • never
  • first ... then
  • now
  • at the moment
  • Look!
  • Listen!
  • just
  • yet
  • never
  • ever
  • already
  • so far
  • up to now
  • since
  • for
  • recently
  • all day
  • the whole day
  • how long
  • since
  • for

3. Form

Simple Present Present Progressive Present Perfect Present Perfect Progressive
infinitive
3rd person singular (he, she, it) infinitive + -s
to be (am, are, is) + infinitive + -ing have/has + past participle* have/has + been + infinitive + -ing

* past participle:

  • regular verbs → infinitive + -ed
  • irregular verbs → 3rd column of the table of the irregular verbs

4. Examples

4.1. Affirmative sentences

Simple Present Present Progressive Present Perfect Present Perfect Progressive
They often play computer games. They are playing computer games now. They have just played computer games. They have been playing computer games for 4 hours.

4.2. Negative sentences

Simple Present Present Progressive Present Perfect Present Perfect Progressive
They do not play computer games very often. They are not playing computer games now. They have notplayed computer games. They have not been playing computer games for 4 hours.

4.3. Questions

Simple Present Present Progressive Present Perfect Present Perfect Progressive
Do they play computer games very often? Are they playing computer games now? Have they played computer games? Have they been playing computer games for 4 hours?

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