There are 2 present tenses in English:
- The present continuous:
Form: It is formed with the present tense of the auxiliary verb + be + present participle:
– Affirmative: I am working
– Negative: I am not working
– Interrogative: am I working?
– Negative interrogative: am I not working?
Contractions: The present continuous of any verb can be contracted
– Affirmative: I´m working
– Negative: I´m not working
– Negative interrogative: aren´t I working?
The spelling of the present participle:
1. When a verb ends in a single e, this e is dropped before –ing.
Except after age, dye and singe: ageing, dyeing and singeing and verbs in ee:
– See/ seeing
- When a verb of one syllable has one vowel and ends in a single consonant, this consonant is doubled before –ing.
– Hit/ hitting
Verbs of 2 or more syllables whose last syllable contains only one vowel, double this consonant if the stress falls on the last syllable:
– Admit/ admitting
But if the stress is not on the last syllable, it doesn´t double.
– Budget/ Budgeting
A final l after a single vowel is, however, always doubled except in American English.
– Travel/ travelling (B.E.) traveling (A.E.)
- – ing can be added to a verb ending in –y without affecting the spelling of the verb
– enjoy/ enjoying study/ studying
Uses of the present continuous tense:
- For an action happening now
– It is raining
- For an action happening about this time but not necessarily at the moment of speaking.
– He is teaching French and learning Greek (he may not be doing either at the moment of speaking)
When 2 continuous tenses having the same subject are joined by and, the auxiliary may be dropped before the second verb:
– She was knitting and listening to the radio.
- For a definite arrangement in the near future (but this is a future form)
– I´m meeting Peter tonight.
The time of the action must be always mentioned.
- With a point in time to indicate an action which begins before this point and probably continues after it:
– At six I am bathing the baby ( I start bathing him before 6)
- With always:
– He is always losing his keys
A. For a frequently repeated action, usually when the frequency annoys the speaker or seems unreasonable to him
– Tom is always going away for the weekend.
B. For an action which appears to be continuous:
– He is always working.
Verbs not normally used in the present continuous tense:
The continuous tenses are chiefly used for deliberate actions. Some verbs are therefore not normally used in the continuous and have only one present tense.
These verbs are the following ones:
- Verbs of the senses (involuntary actions): feel, hear, see, smell, also notice and observe, and feel, look and taste as link verbs
Verbs such as gaze, listen, look (at), observe, stare and watch imply deliberate use of the senses and can be used in the continuous tenses
- Verbs expressing feelings and emotions: admire, adore, appreciate, desire, detest, dislike, fear, hate, like, loathe, love, mind, respect, want, wish.
- Verbs of mental activity: agree, assume, believe, expect, forget, know, realize, recall, recognize, recollect, remember, suppose, think (have an opinion)
- Verbs of possession: belong, owe, own, possess.
- The auxiliaries except be and have in certain uses. Be can be used in the continuous forms in the passive:
– He is being carried.
- appear (seem), concern, consist, contain, hold (contain), keep (continue), matter, seem, signify, sound (seem)
Feel, look, smell and taste in the continuous forms:
- FEEL: When followed by an adjective indicating the subject´ s emotions or physical or mental condition (angry, happy, cold, hot, sad) is normally used in the simple tenses but can also be used in the simple tenses but can also be used in the continuous.
– How do you feel/ are you feeling?
– I feel/ I´m feeling better
Feel meaning touch can be used in the continuous:
– The doctor was feeling her pulse.
Similarly, feel for meaning: try to find sth. by touching
– He was feeling for the keyhole in the dark.
But feel is not used in the continuous when it means sense
– Don´t you feel the house shaking?
when it means think:
– I feel you are wrong
And when it is used as a link verb
– The water feels cold.
- LOOK: The continuous is not used with look as a link verb
– That cake looks good
Or with look on, look up to, look down on
But look at, look for/in /into/out and look (watch) are deliberate actions and can be used in the continuous tenses
– He is looking for his glasses.
- SMELL: The continuous is not used with smell meaning perceiving a scent
– I smell gas
Or with smell used as a link verb:
– The cake smells strong.
But can be used with smell meaning sniff at:
– Why are you smelling the milk?
- TASTE: taste as a link verb is not used in the continuous
– This coffee tastes bitter
But taste meaning to test the flavour of can be used in the continuous
– She was tasting the pudding to see if it was good.
See and hear in the continuous forms:
- SEE: It can be used in the continuous when it means meet s.o. by appointment, interview
– I´m seeing my solicitor tomorrow
Also when it means visit, usually as a tourist
– Tom is seeing the town
But it can be used in the continuous with see about, see to, see s.o. out, see s.o. off
- HEAR: It can be used in the continuous when it means listen formally to f.i: complaints, evidence.
– The court is hearing evidence this afternoon
Hear meaning receive news or letters can also be used in the continuous form but only in the present perfect or future.
– I´ ve been hearing all about your accident.
Think, assume and expect in the continuous forms:
- THINK: It can be used in the continuous when it means no opiniuon is given or asked for.
– What are you thinking about?
– I´m thinking about the play we saw last night.
- ASSUME: It can be used in the continuous when it means accept as a starting point
– I´m assuming that you have time to do a lot of research
Assume power or control of a country or organization can also be used in the continuous
– The new government is assuming power at once.
- EXPECT: It can be used in the continuous when it means it means await.
– I´m expecting a baby in May/ a letter.
- The simple present:
Form: In the affirmative the simple present has the same form as the infinitive but adds –s for the third person singular:
– Affirmative: I work /he works
– Negative: I do not working/ He does not work
– Interrogative: do I work?/ does he work?
– Negative interrogative: do I not work?/ does he not work?
Contractions: The verb do is normally contracted in the negative and negative interrogative:
– Negative: I don´t work / He doesn´t work
– Negative interrogative: don´t I work? / doesn’t he work?
- Verbs ending in ss, sh, ch, x and o add es instead of s alone to form the third person singular.
– I kiss/ He kisses
– I rush/ He rushes
– I watch / He watches
– I box/ He boxes
– I do/ He does
Pronunciation of s:
1. /s/ when the verb ends in a voiceless consonant: like
2. /z/ when the verb ends in a voiced consonant and a vowel: love
3. /iz/ when the verb ends in /s/ /z/ /tṢ/ /dӠ/ /Ӡ/ /Ṣ/: use, finish
- When y follows a consonant we change the y into I and add es.
– I carry/ he carries
But verbs ending in y following a vowel follow the usual rule.
– I say/ he says
Uses of the simple present:
- The main use of the simple present is to express habitual actions
– Dogs bark
– He smokes a lot
This tense doesn´ t tell us whether or not the action is being performed at the moment of speaking and if we want to make this clear we must add a verb in the the present continuous tense.
– My dog barks a lot, but he isn´t barking at the moment.
- The simple present tense is often used with adverbs or adverb phrases such as: always, never, occasionally, often, sometimes, on Mondays, twice a year etc.
– I go to church on Sundays
Or with time clauses expressing routine or habitual actions such as: whenever, when
– Whenever it rains the roof leaks.
- It is used with the verb say when we are asking about or quoting from books, notices or very recently received letters
– What does the notice say?
– It says: No parking
Other verbs of communication are also possible:
– Shakespeare advises us not to borrow or lend
- In newspaper headlines
– Peace talks fail
- It can be used for dramatic narrative. It is useful when describing the action of a play, opera etc. and is often used by radio commentators at sport events, public functions etc.
– When the curtain rises, Juliet is writing at her desk. Suddenly the window opens, and a masked man enters.
- It can be used for a planned future action or series of actions particularly when they refer to a journey. Travel agents use it a good deal.
– We leave London at 10.00 next Tuesday and arrive in Paris at 13.00. We spend 2 hours in Paris……
- It must be used with verbs which cannot be used in the continuous forms: love, see, believe etc.
– I love you
- In conditional sentences type 1
– If I see Ann, I´ll ask her
- In time clauses when there is an idea of routine
– She takes the boy to school before she goes to work.
When the main verb is in a future form
– When it stops raining, we´ ll go out.