There are four present tenses in English. Use the present tense to talk about something that is going on now or that is true now and any time.
The simple present tense is one of several forms of present tense in English. It is used to describe habits, unchanging situations, general truths, and fixed arrangements. The simple present tense is simple to form. Just use the base form of the verb: (I take, you take, we take, they take) The 3rd person singular takes an -s at the end. (he takes, she takes). It is used:
- To express habits, general truths, repeated actions or unchanging situations, emotions and wishes:
I paint (habit); I work in Delhi (unchanging situation); Delhi is a large city (general truth)
- To give instructions or directions:
You walk for two hundred meters, then you turn left.
- To express fixed arrangements, present or future:
Your exam starts at 09.00
- To express future time, after some conjunctions: after, when, before, as soon as, until:
She’ll give it to you when you come next Sunday.
The present continuous of any verb is composed of two parts – the present tense of the verb to be + the present participle of the main verb.
As with all tenses in English, the speaker’s attitude is as important as the time of the action or event. When someone uses the present continuous, they are thinking about something that is unfinished or incomplete. It is used:
- to describe an action that is going on at this moment: You are using the Internet.
- to describe an action that is going on during this period of time or a trend: Are you still driving?
- to describe an action or event in the future, which has already been planned or prepared: We’re going on holiday tomorrow.
- to describe a temporary event or situation: He usually plays the drums, but he’s playing bass guitar tonight.
- with “always, forever, constantly“, to describe and emphasise a continuing series of repeated actions: Harry and Sally are always arguing!
The present perfect is used to indicate a link between the present and the past. The time of the action is before now but not specified, and we are often more interested in the result than in the action itself. It is used to descibe:
- An action or situation that started in the past and continues in the present. I have lived in Delhi since 1984 (= and I still do.)
- An action performed during a period that has not yet finished. She has been to the cinema twice this week (= and the week isn’t over yet.)
- A repeated action in an unspecified period between the past and now. We have visited Portugal several times.
- An action that was completed in the very recent past, expressed by ‘just’. I have just finished my work.
- An action when the time is not important. He has read ‘War and Peace’. (= the result of his reading is important)
Present Perfect Continuous
The present perfect continuous is used to refer to an unspecified time between ‘before now’ and ‘now’. The speaker is thinking about something that started but perhaps did not finish in that period of time. He/she is interested in the process as well as the result, and this process may still be going on, or may have just finished. It is used to describe:
- Actions that started in the past and continue in the present.
She has been driving for you all day (= and she’s still driving now).
- Actions that have just finished, but we are interested in the results.
She has been cooking since last night (= and the food on the table looks delicious).