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A. The Present Simple (Indefinite) Tense


Table /








1 you work go I you do not

work go

do I you

work? go?

he she it works goes he she it does not does he she it
we you they work we you they do not do we you they


don't = do not doesn't = does not

* The rules of the verb tenses formation and usage in 1 1-1.7. refer to the Active Voice.

As is seen from the table above the Present Simple (In­definite) in affirmative sentences coincides in form with the Infinitive without the particle to except the 3rd person singular when the ending s (-es) is added to the verb.

I work - he works; you play - she plays;

we finish - it finishes; I cry - she cries The ending -s/-es has three variants of pronunciation: [s],

[z], [iz]. (See the table below).

Table 2

[s] Iz] [iz]
after voiceless after voiced consonants after  
consonants and vowels  
puts reads changes
writes buys dresses
sits gives marches

In interrogative and negative sentences the Present Simple tense takes the auxiliary do or does (for the 3rd person singular) with the exception of the verb to be which does not need an auxiliary.

When does he usually do his homework?

What do you do for a living?

I don't feel like going out tonight.

Why are you so angry with him?

He is not in. He is out.


The Present Simple (Indefinite) tense denotes:

1. Habitual facts or repeated actions, which are normally indicated by adverbials of frequency such as often, always, usually, seldom, rarely, sometimes, never, generally, as a rule, every day (month), every other day (week, month, etc.,), once a week, etc.

He often works till midnight.

My brother plays tennis every other day.

Are you never late for classes?

Do you generally speak English in class?

2. Universal truths (laws of nature) and permanent cha­racteristics, situations or states.

The sun sets in the west. She teaches English at school. Do you like rainy weather? His parents live in London.

3. Present actions and states, going on at the moment of speech with the so-called stative* verbs which include

a) verbs of sense perception: see, hear, notice, taste, smell, etc.

It smells like a hospital in here.

The meat tastes spicy.

I don't see anyone in the room. Where are they all?

b) verbs of mental activity: understand, think, believe, remember, know, forget, mean, suppose, recognize, etc.

Do you recognize me? What does he mean?

Who do you think will win the game? Do you know what he is speaking about?

c) verbs of feeling and emotions: like, dislike, hate, love, wish, want, prefer, care, etc.

I prefer dogs to cats.

Which of these dresses do you like best?

About the possibility of using the Present Continuous with some of the stative verbs see Part B of this Unit.

Do you want anything to drink? - I want a glass

of juice, please.

Jill really hates house work.

d) verbs of possession: have, belong, own, possess, etc. Who does this car belong to? They have a big new house.

4. Future actions

a) in subordinate clauses of time and condition after the conjunctions when, after, before, as soon as, until, if, in case, etc.

When the water boils I'll turn off the gas. I'll join you as soon as I get a note from you. You won't get slim if you eat too many sweets. I'll tell you a secret if you promise to keep it. b) for scheduled facts and events such as flights, train arrivals, departures, itineraries which are worked out officially and are certain to take place.

The flight leaves at 2 p.m. (according to the time­table)

You arrive at Basel at 6.30 a.m. local time, (accor­ding to the itinerary)

B. The Present Continuous (Progressive) Tense


The Present Continuous tense is formed with the help of the auxiliary be in the appropriate form and the Present Par­ticiple of the main verb.

Table 3




I am











I am not










am I










YOU are you are not  are you
he she it   is   he she it   is not     is   he she it
we you they   are   we you they   are not     are   we you they


'm = am 're = are

's = is

aren't = are not isn't = is not

When -ing is added to a verb there may be some changes in spelling:

a) final e is omitted: have - having; make - making;

b) ie is replaced by y: lie - lying; die - dying;

c) the consonant following a short vowel is doubled: put -putting; get - getting.


The Present Continuous tense denotes:

1. An action happening now. This may mean 'at the actual

moment of speaking' or over a period of time including

the moment of speaking.

We are packing the things now and the kids are

playing in their room.

Peter is still sleeping. Don't wake him up.

It's raining all day.

It may also have a broader sense and mean 'about the moment of speaking'.

He is studying at Oxford. (Although he may be on vacation at the moment of speaking.) He's teaching French and learning Greek. (He may not be doing either at the moment of speaking.) The purpose of using the Present Continuous tense for actions which do not coincide with the moment of speech is to show that they have a limited duration. In other words, they are temporary, not permanent actions. As is seen from the examples above the Present moment (both in the narrower and broader senses) is indicated by time adverbials such as at the moment, now, at present, just now, right now, etc. When the duration over a period of time is meant, adverbials like all the morning, all day, the whole night, still, etc are used.

2. Pre-arranged future actions, i.e. actions that have been planned or intended by the speaker*.

My father is leaving for Rome tonight. We are having a party on Saturday. Nick is running a marathon next week.

3. Actions of unusual frequency with adverbials of per­manence and repetition such as always, constantly, etc. In these cases the Present Continuous gives an utterance an emotional colouring, mainly of a negative kind: irri­tation, annoyance, reproach, etc.

You are always finding fault with me. Why are you complaining all the time?

* Compare with the Present Simple for future actions which is used in formal situations, when the action does not convey the spea­ker's plan.

Notice the difference in meaning:

She always worries about her children. (Present Simple with 'always' is used to denote a regular habitual action.)

She is always worrying about trifles. (Present Continuous with 'always' is used to express the speaker's irritation about smb's habit which he/she considers negative.)

Note that some of the stative verbs can be used in the Present Continuous form when the verb expresses an activity (an event), not a state.

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