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1. PRESENT SIMPLE

a. Form

Subjects Verbs
I, You, We, They Am/ do
He, She, It Is/ does

* Spelling of verbs + “-s”

– The normal rule is to add “-s” to the base form of the verb.

Ex: wants, eats, helps, drives…

– Add “-es” to verbs that end in “-ss, -sh, -ch, -x, and –o”

Ex: kisses, washes, watches, fixes, goes…

– Verbs that end in a consonant + “y” change to “-ies”. But verbs which end in vowel + “y” only add “-s”.

Ex: carries, flies, tries, worries…

Buys, says, plays, enjoys…

b. Use:

The present is one of the most common tenses in English. It can refer to the present (now), but it also can refer to all time and regular time. It is used to express:

– To express an action that happens again and again, that is a habit or customary action.

Ex: I often get up at 6:00. She goes to school by bus. I wash my hair twice a week.

– To express a fact, which is always true.

Ex: the sun rises in the east. The earth revolves around the sun

– To express a fact, which stays the same for a long time (a state).

Ex: I live in Hanoi. She works in a bank. I prefer coffee to tea.

– Present simple for timetables: refers to a future event that is seen as unalterable because it is based on a timetable or calendar.

Ex: my flight leaves at 10:00. What time does the film start?

*Note: we often use adverbs of frequency with the present simple.

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Never rarely not often sometimes often usually always

2. PRESENT CONTINUOUS

a. Form

Subject Tobe Verbs
I Am Ving
He, She, It Is
We, You, They Are

* Spelling of verbs + -Ing

– The normal rule is to add “-Ing” to the base form of the verbs.

Ex: going, wearing, visiting, eating…

– Verbs that end in “-e” lose “e”. But verbs that end in “-ee” do not lose an “e”

Ex: smoking, coming, hoping, writing… agreeing, seeing…

– In verbs of one syllable, with one consonant, the consonant is doubled. But if the final consonant is “-y” or “-w”, it is not doubled.

Ex: stopping, getting, running, planning, jogging… playing, showing…

b. Use

– An activity happening now.

Ex: They are playing football in the garden. It is heavily raining now.

– An activity happening around now, but perhaps not at the moment of speaking.

Ex: She is studying English at university. I am reading a good book by Henry James.

– A planned future arrangement.

Ex: I am meeting Miss Boyd at 10 o’clock tomorrow. He is leaving for Paris next week.

– Express the change and the development.

Ex: Things are getting better. She is getting fatter and fatter.

– The temporary or repeated actions.

Ex: My car has broken down, so I am walking to work these days. Are you playing badminton?

– Express the bad habits, often go with some adverbs: “constantly, continually, forever…”

Ex: You are always complaining about my studying. She is continually saying that she is tired and bored.

* Note: some feeling, thinking, and opinion verbs are not used in present continuous: “love, like, dislike, desire, wish, forgive, smell, hear, think, recognize, believe, feel, understand…”and some possessive adjectives are also not used in present continuous: “own, possess, belong, owe…”

3. PRESENT PERFECT

a. Form

Have/ has + Ved (past participle)

Subjects Verbs Ved
I/ you/ we/ they Have
He/ she/ it Has

b. Use

– The present perfect looks back from the present into the past, and expresses what has happened before now. The action happened at an indefinite time in the past.

Ex: I have met a lot of famous people. (Before now) She has won awards. (In her life)

– It expresses a past action that has a present result. The action is usually in the recent past.

Ex: I have lost my key. The taxi hasn’t arrived.

He has written 25 books. (Up to now)

– The action can continue to the present, and probably into the future.

Ex: she has lived here for 10 years. (She still lives here)

– The present perfect expresses an experience as part of someone’s life. “Never, ever” are common with this use.

Ex: I’ve travelled a lot in Africa. They have lived all over the world. Have you ever been in a car crash? My mother has never flown in a plane.

– The present perfect expresses an action or state, which began in the past and continues to the present.

Ex: I have known Alice for 6 years. How long have you worked as a teacher?

*Note: the time expressions for and since are common with this use. We use for with a period of time, and since with a point in time.

Ex: we have lived here for 3 years. (A period of time)

I’ve had a beard since I left the army.

– The present perfect expresses a past action with result in the present. It is often a recent past action.

Ex: I have lost my wallet. (I haven’t got it now)

The taxi has arrived. (It’s outside the door now)

* Note: the adverb “just, already, yet” are common with this use. “Yet” is used in questions and negative.

Ex: she has just had some good news. I’ve already had breakfast. Has the postman been yet?

* Present perfect and past simple

– Past simple:

+ Refers to an action that happened at a definite time in the past, and the action is finished.

Ex: he died in 1889. She got married when she was 18.

+ Time expressions + the past simple.

Ex: I bought my car in 2000/ last year/ two years ago/ on March 20. I lived in Hanoi for a year (but not now).

– Present perfect

+ Refers to an action that happened at an indefinite time in the past. The action can continue to the present.

Ex: she has won awards. He has written 15 books. She has lived there for 20 years (and she still does).

+ Time expressions + the present perfect.

Ex: I have worked here for 3 years/ since 2002/ since I left school. We have never been to America.

4. PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS

a. Form

Subjects Verbs Been + Ving
I/ you/ we/ they Have
He/ she/ it Has

b. Use

– To express an activity which began in the past and continues to the present.

Ex: we have been walking here for hours. I have been learning English since I was in secondary school.

– To refer to an activity with a result in the present. The past activity might be finished or it might not. The context usually makes this clear.

Ex: I am hot because I have been running. He has been learning all morning. I’m sorry I am late, have you been waiting long? Look outside the window! It’s been snowing! I am covered in paint because I have been decorating the bathroom.

– The action may have ended recently. We can also use this tense for a series of repeated actions.

Ex: I have been going to evening classes.

*Note:

+ Sometime there is little or no difference in meaning between the present perfect simple and continuous.

Ex: How long have you worked/ have you been working here? I’ve ironed/ have been ironing 5 shirts this morning.

+ Think of the verbs that have the idea of a long time, for example, wait, work, learn, travel, play. These verbs can be found in the present perfect continuous. Think of the verbs that do not have the idea of a long time, for example, find, start, buy, die, lose, break, stop. It is unusual to find these verbs in the present perfect continuous. These verbs can be found in the present perfect.

Ex: I have been playing tennis since I was a child. I have bought a new house. My cat has died. My radio has broken.

+ Verbs that express a state, for example, like, love, know, have for possession, and “are” not found in the present perfect continuous.

Ex: we have known each other for 5 years. (Not use: have been knowing).

How long have you had your car? (Not use: have you been having).

+ The present perfect simple looks at the completed action. This is why, if the sentence gives a number or a quantity, the present perfect simple is used. The continuous is not possible.

Ex: he has written three letters today. (Not use: has been writing)