The Present Tense

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    Introduction

    We certainly cannot manage English without the present tense. We need it to tell others what we do in our free time, or to say what we are doing right now. Be assured the Presentn tense isn’t too tricky, we sure that once you’ve studied this chapter it will be a breeze for you to use it. The Present Tense has two forms: the Present Simple tense and the Present Simple Continuous tense.

    1 Present simple

    Imagine that you are joining a new school or starting a new job and you want to tell others about yourself – how you spend your free time and what you like and dislike. This is exactly why you need the Present Simple. It enables you to say things like:

    • I play tennis often.
    • I ride my bike every day.
    • In winter, I go skiing.

    When we use this tense, we will learn in a few moments in the Use of the Present Simple subsection. But let’s first look at how the Present Simple is formed.

    1.1 Forming the Present Simple

    What do we need to form the Present Simple?
    subject + verb in basic form (infinitive) + rest of sentence

    Positive form:  
    Irunevery day.
    Yourunevery day.
    We runevery day.
    You runevery day.
    Theyrunevery day.

    Maybe you’re wondering if we forgot the third person – HE / SHE / IT. We only mention it separately because we add the ending -s to the verb in its basic form:
    Herunsevery day.
    Sherunsevery day.
    Itrunsevery day.

    • The negative of the Present Simple is formed by adding the negative NOT before the auxiliary verb DO (I do not run every day).
    • DO does not mean “doing” here, it only helps us to form the negative..
    • The short form we commonly use in spoken English is DON’T(I don’t run every day).
    Negative form:   
    Idon't runevery day.
    Youdon't runevery day.
    Wedon't runevery day.
    Youdon't runevery day.
    Theydon't runevery day.
    • There is a change again in the third person. Instead of do not / don’t we use does not/doesn’t:
    • Caution – the action verb remains in the infinitive and we no longer use the ending -s.
      • He doesn’t run every day.
      • No: He doesn’t runs every day.
    Hedoesn't runevery day.
    Shedoesn't runevery day.
    Itdoesn't runevery day.
      • When forming a question, we switch the subject of the sentence with the auxiliary verb DO:
    Question:  
    Do Irunevery day?
    Do yourunevery day?
    Do we runevery day?
    Do yourunevery day?
    Do theyrunevery day?
    • When forming the third person, we switch the subject of the sentence with the auxiliary verb DOES
    • Caution – the action verb remains in the infinitive and we no longer use the ending -s.
      • Does he run every day?
      • Not: Does he runs severy day?
    Does herunevery day?
    Does sherunevery day?
    Does it runevery day?

    Very often we encounter so-called short answers. For example, to the question Do you speak English? we answer e Yes, I do. (Ano).

    1.2 Use of the Present Simple

    Now we know how to form the Present Simple. Let’s look at the situations in which we use it:

    1) When we repeat an action

    I visit my grandparents every weekend.
    He always watches the news in the morning.
    We usually eat dinner together.

    2) When it comes to hobbies, attitudes and habits

    She loves animals.
    Does your father smoke?

    3) When something is generally true

    The sun rises in the morning.
    Apples grow on trees.

    4) When we want to express long-term activity

    Where does your boyfriend live?
    I work as a teacher.

    5) When we want to express a feature or skill of a topic

    You speak English really well!

    6) When we talk about an order

    The bus leaves at 5 o’clock.
    The movie starts at 8 o’clock.

    1.3 Adverbs related to the Present Simple

    The Present Simple is characterized by frequent use of the following vocabulary. If we are not sure what tense to use, these words can help us:

    • OFTEN

    In a sentence OFTEN is placed before the action verb (i.e. before the verb that bears the main meaning of the sentence (for example PLAY)):

    I often play tennis.
    Do you often play tennis?
    I don't often play tennis.

    However, if the sentence contains the verb TO BE, OFTEN is placed in the positive sentence after it. In a question the adverb is placed behind the pronoun and in the negative it is placed after the NOT:

    I am often tired.
    Are you often tired?
    I'm not often tired.

    But if we want to emphasize that we do something VERY OFTEN, we put the adverb at the end of the sentence:

    I play tennis very often.
    Do you play tennis very often?
    I don't play tennis very often.
    • USUALLY, SOMETIMES, ALWAYS

    All these adverbs belong before the action verb:

    I usually agree with you.
    Do you sometimes cook for your family at weekends?
    I don't always spend so much money.

    However, if the verb TO BE is in the sentence, these adverbs belong in the positive sentence after it. In a question the adverbs are behind the pronoun and in the negative they are after the NOT:

    I am usually very busy.
    You are sometimes very annoying.
    I am not always so tired.

    But if we want to emphasize these adverbs, they can also appear at the beginning of the sentence:

    Usually, I agree with you.
    Sometimes, I cook for my family at weekends.
    Always, I spend so much money.
    • NEVER

    NEVER also appears before the action verb:

    I never drink alcohol.

    Like with other adverbs, if the verb TO BE is in the sentence, the adverb NEVER appears after it. But it is a negative adverb, so what seems to be the positive sentence at first glance is actually the negative one.

    I am never tired.
    • If there is a negative adverb in the English sentence, we do not put a negative NOT in the sentence.
      We don’t say: I am not never tired.
    • To emphasize this adverb, the rest of the sentence is inverted::
    Never have I experienced such treatment.
    Never have I seen such a beautiful sight.

    To put it simply, if we want to put NEVER at the beginning of a sentence, we form the rest of the sentence as if it was a question.
    We don’t say: Never I have experienced such treatment. Never I have seen such a beautiful sight.

    • Other adverbs

    Other words that occur frequently with the Present Simple are adverbs that begin with EVERY. We usually place these adverbs at the end of the sentence. But if we want to emphasize them, we’ll place them at the beginning:

    EVERY DAY

    I dance every day.
    Every day, I dance.

    EVERY WEEK

    I play the piano every week.
    Every week, I play the piano.

    EVERY WEEKEND

    I relax every weekend.
    Every weekend, I relax.

    EVERY YEAR

    I go abroad every year.
    Every year, I go abroad.

    Of course, with the word EVERY, there are many other adverbs, such as: EVERY MONTH, EVERY MONDAY, EVERY WEEKDAY, etc.

    2 Present continuous

    We use the Present Continuous when we want to say that something is happening right now. Thus, it differs from the Present Simple. It doesn’t say what we do often and in our free time – it tells what we are doing right now.

    Imagine a friend calling you and asking you what you’re doing. Thanks to the Present Continuous
    you can answer him. E.g.:

    • Now I am working. (Right now, when we’re calling) – I am working.
    • I’m training now. (Right now, when we’re calling) – I am training.
    • I’m cooking now. (Right now, when we’re calling) – I am cooking.

    For more information on how to use this tense, see the Use of the Present Continuous sub-section. But now let’s look at how to form this tense.

    2.1 Forming the Present Continuous

    What is necessary to form the Present Continuous?

    subject + auxiliary verb TO BE + action verb with ending -ING

    To remind you – the auxiliary verb TO BE is in the chart in the second column and depends on the person we are talking about. The action verb is in the third column and conveys the main meaning of the sentence.

    Positive form:  
    Iamrunning.
    Youarerunning.
    Heisrunning.
    Sheisrunning.
    Wearerunning.
    Youarerunning.
    Theyarerunning.
    • We create the negative form by adding NOT to the auxiliary verb TO BE. This verb only serves as a helper to create the tense here, it does not mean to actually BE here.
    • The shortened form is ISN’T or AREN’T
      She isn’t running. You aren’t running.
    • But we can also say She’s not running. You’re not running.
      The meaning remains the same.
    Negative form:  
    Iam notrunning.
    Youare notrunning.
    Heis notrunning.
    Sheis notrunning.
    Weare notrunning.
    Youare notrunning.
    Theyare notrunning.
    • We form a question by switching a subject for the auxiliary verb TO BE.
    Question:  
    AmI running?
    Areyourunning?
    Isherunning?
    Issherunning?
    Arewerunning?
    Areyourunning?
    Aretheyrunning?

    As we’ve already mentioned, we often encounter so-called short answers. For example, to the question Are you running? we might answer Yes, I am.

    2.2 Use of the Present Continuous

    Let’s now look at when we use the Present Continuous.

    • We’re talking about something that’s happening right now
    I am watching TV.
    Are you watching TV?
    We are not watching TV.
    • We’re talking about a future plan that we’re certain of
    I am flying to Paris tomorrow.
    • We’re talking about a change in the system
    The bus is leaving at 5 o'clock. (There was a change, it was supposed to leave at a different time.)

    2.3 Adverbs related to the Present Continuous

    When we are not sure which tense to use in a given situation, the words that are typical for the tense can help us to decide. These are the adverbs that are related to the Present Continuous:

    • We are talking about the present

    If we are talking about the present moment, we use the adverbs NOW and AT THE MOMENT. We put them at the end of sentence.

    What are you doing now?
    I am writing a letter at the moment.

    If we want to emphasize these adverbs, we can put them at the beginning.

    Now, I am listening.
    At the moment, I am concentrating.
    • We’re talking about a planned future

    Speaking of a future, we use words like TOMORROW, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, NEXT WEEK, NEXT WEEKEND, NEXT YEAR. These adverbs also belong at the end of the sentence.

    I'm not going to school tomorrow.
    Are you going with them next week?

    If we want to emphasize these adverbs, we put them at the beginning of the sentence:

    Tomorrow, we are going on foot.
    Next week, we are cleaning the windows.

    3 3 Differences between the Present Simple and the Present Continuous

    Let us once again summarize the differences between the Present Simple and the Present Continuous.

    • If we say “I run,” it means that we are doing it repeatedly. Usually we put a word into the sentence that will specify it.
      E.g.: “I often run“, “I run every day“ and so on.
    • If we say “I am running“ it means we’re running right now.

    4 4 Present Simple – Writing and Pronunciation

    This section focuses on material for advanced students

    Let’s look at a few rules that relate to the 3rd person of a verb (HE, SHE, IT) in the Present Simple:

    • When we say the verb and it ends up with a sibilant (s, z, c, sh, zh, ch,), we must add the ending -es. There are also verbs that do not end with sibilance, but the ending -es is also attached to them – like DO and GO:
    HewatchesTV every morning.
    Hebrusheshis teeth every evening.
    Shewashesthe dishes every day.
    Shegoesto school by bus.
    • If the verb ends with a Y which follows consonant, we change the Y to an I:
    Hestudiesevery week.
    Shepartiesquite often.

    Pronunciation -s

    The correct pronunciation of this ending depends in most cases on the last letter of the verb in it is basic form. More precisely, it depends on whether the basic form of the verb ends with a voiced or a voiceless sound..

    Voiced sounds include all vowels + b, d, g, v, z, ʒ, dʒ, ð, l, r, m, n, ŋ, j, w.

    Voiceless sounds include p, t, k, f, s, ʃ, θ, tʃ.

    If the basic verb ends with a voiced sound, the -s ending is pronounced as / z, ɪz /:

     

    If the basic verb ends with a voiceless sound, the -s ending is pronounced as / s, ɪs /:

    Some verbs have irregular pronunciation in the third form, such as:

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    Vendula Novotná
    Vystudovala magisterské studium na pedagogické fakultě Karlovy Univerzity se specializací na anglický jazyk, hudební kulturu, pedagogiku a sociální pedagogiku. Má letité zkušenosti s výukou jazyka v ČR, USA, Indonésii a Německu. Pracuje jako metodička a koordinátorka jazykových kurzů ve společnosti OLINE learning, kde vede tým lektorů a podílí se na tvorbě jazykových kurzů pro více než 37 000 studentů. Vendula se řídí heslem: “Učení nás má bavit, protože pokud nás baví, co děláme, pak to má smysl".