Present Tense

The Present Tense Explained with Examples

The Present Tense is a form of verb that indicates action that is happening at the moment or at the time of speaking. [Action that happens now]

The most confusing feature of the present tense for learners of English is that the Simple Present TenseOpens in new window does not really indicate present time actions. Its main expressions include:

1.  Making factual statements or universal truths:
  • A mile is 5,280 feet.
  • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
2.  Expressing habitual actions:
  • John reads his bible first thing in the morning.
  • (This sentence describes what John normally does first thing in the morning. It does not mean John is presently reading his bible now. The sentence would still maintain its validity if John had not read his bible for some time.)
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3.  Expressing predictable future events or actions:
  • The new NBA season starts tonight.
  • We leave for Memphis tomorrow.

Verb Present Form

How to Form S-form of Verbs

The present form (S–form) of all verbs, including that of irregular verbs is directly derived from the base form of verbs. This is true of all verbs, with the sole exception of the verb be.

The prime difference between the present and base formOpens in new window is that the third-person singular present form adds –s or –es to the base form of the verb; all other present forms take identical pattern with the base form.

The base form of be is different from all of its present tense forms. Observe the chat below:

Number1st Person2nd Person3rd Person
SingularI amyou arehe/she/it is
Pluralwe areyou arethey are

The third-person singular present endings are fairly predictable both in pronunciation and in spelling. If the base form ends in a sibilant sound (s, z, x, sh, ch, tch, or j [as in judge]), the ending is pronounced as a separate syllable and rhymes with buzz. The ending is spelled -es, unless the base form already ends in -e, in which case only -s is added:

Base Form3rd Person
Singular Present
loseloses
freezefreezes
beseechbeseeches
catchcatches

Note that if the base form ends in a silent consonant sound other than a sibilant, the ending is pronounced /s/ and is spelled -es. The voiceless consonants are usually spelled with a p, t, ck, k, f, or gh (when pronounced /f/):

Base Form3rd Person
Singular Present
keep keeps
beat beats
seek seeks
take takes

In a situation where the base form ends in a pronounced consonant other than a sibilant or in a pronounced vowel (as opposed to a silent final -e), the ending is pronounced /z/ and is spelled -s :

Base Form3rd Person Singular Present
forbidforbids
bendbends
digdigs
feelfeels
swimswims
meanmeans
proveproves
paypays
fleeflees
flyflies
throwthrows
strewstrews
Note that if the base form ends in -y without a preceding vowel, the -y alters to -ie before the -s ending (as in fly above).

A few verbs have peculiar third-person singular present forms:

be is
have has

Two verbs, particularly “do,” and “say”, have irregular pronunciations in the third-person singular present form:

do does (rhymes with buzz)
say says (rhymes with fez)