Present tense

Present tense

The present tense (abbreviated pres or prs) is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time.[1] This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb. However, in discussions of specific languages, the term "present tense" is often used to refer to a particular grammatical form that, depending on the language, may frequently be used to express the present nature of an action or, in some cases, may be used to express non-present action. The discussion in this article focuses on the forms used in various languages.

In English, present tense form may be used to express action in the present, a current state of being, an occurrence in the future, or an action that started in the past and continues.

There are two common types of present tense form in most Indo-European languages: the present indicative (i.e., the combination of present tense and indicative mood) and the present subjunctive (i.e., the combination of present tense and subjunctive mood).


Germanic languages


The English present tense can be combined with aspects in the following verbal constructions:

The present simple or simple present is used in several ways:

  • to describe both habits and or routines (habitual aspect) (I eat breakfast every morning at 6:30; I go to work every day), and general facts or the truth (The earth revolves around the sun);
  • to present thoughts, feelings, and other unchanging states (stative aspect) (I think so; I like it; It is hot; The sun always shines in the desert);
  • to indicate scheduled events in the near future (so that the simple “present” verb form actually indicates future tense) (I take the train tomorrow at 6:00);
  • to indicate events at any time in the future in a dependent clause (I’ll retire when I reach age 65);
  • to provide narratives such as instructional narratives (Now I mix the ingredients; now I put the pan in the oven);

In the present simple, English uses the verb without an ending (I get the lunch ready at one o’clock, usually.) except that in the third person singular, (after he, she, it, your friend, etc.) the suffix -s or -es is appended to the verb (It gets busy on the weekends; Sarah catches the early train).

The present simple tense is often used with adverbs of repeated time, as in these examples with the adverbs shown in italics:

  • I never come to school by cycle.
  • He always forgets to do his homework.
  • I never catch the late bus home.

The emphatic present: The present tense can be expressed with emphasis by using the auxiliary verb do and the uninflected main verb, (I do walk, He does walk).

The present progressive or present continuous: This form is used to describe events happening now, e.g., I am reading this wiki article, and I am thinking about editing it. This tense is formed by combining the present form of the verb “to be” with a present participle.

The present perfect In English this is a present tense with retrospective aspect, which describes a present state of existence based on past action (I have visited Paris several times; I have listened to you for five minutes now).

The present perfect progressive: This is used to describe events or actions that have begun at some point in the past and continue through the present, e.g., I have been reading this book for some time now.

Altaic languages

Turkish present indicative tense

In the Turkish language, the pronouns have their own ending according to vowel harmony. Present tense suffix is "r".

  ending kal-mak sev-mek bul-mak gör-mek
ben ım/im/um/üm kalırım severim bulurum görürüm
sen sın/sin/sun/sün kalırsın seversin bulursun görürsün
o kalır sever bulur görür
biz ız/iz/uz/üz kalırız severiz buluruz görürüz
siz sınız/siniz/sunuz/sünüz kalırsınız seversiniz bulursunuz görürsünüz
onlar lar/ler kalırlar severler bulurlar görürler

Finno-Ugric languages

Finnish present indicative tense

In Finnish, the pronouns have their own ending in the verb. These verbs may be used by themselves, without the pronoun (except he/she=hän).

  olla laskea antaa katsoa vapista
minä olen lasken annan katson vapisen
sinä olet lasket annat katsot vapiset
hän, se on laskee antaa katsoo vapisee
me olemme laskemme annamme katsomme vapisemme
te olette laskette annatte katsotte vapisette
he, ne ovat laskevat antavat katsovat vapisevat

Hellenic Languages

Modern Greek present indicative tense

In Modern Greek, the present tense is used similarly to the present tense in English, and they can also convey the present continuous. As with some other conjugations in Greek, some verbs in the present tense accept different (but equivalent) forms of use for the same person. What follows is an example of present tense conjugation in Greek for the verbs see (βλέπω), eat (τρώω) and love (αγαπώ).

  βλέπω τρώω, τρώγω αγαπώ, αγαπάω
εγώ βλέπω τρώω, τρώγω αγαπώ, αγαπάω
εσύ βλέπεις τρως, τρώεις αγαπάς
αυτός/αυτή/αυτό βλέπει τρώει, τρώγει αγαπά(ει)
εμείς βλέπουμε τρώμε, τρώγομε, τρώγουμε αγαπάμε, αγαπούμε
εσείς βλέπετε τρώτε, τρώγετε αγαπάτε
αυτοί/αυτές/αυτά βλέπουν(ε) τρών(ε), τρώγουν(ε) αγαπούν(ε), αγαπάν(ε)

Romance languages

The Romance languages are derived from Latin, and in particular western Vulgar Latin. As a result, their usages and forms are similar.

Latin present indicative tense

In Latin, the present tense can be translated as being progressive or simple. Below is an example of present indicative tense conjugation in Latin.

  plicāre debēre dicere cupere scīre
ego plicō debeō dīcō cupiō sciō
tu plicās debēs dīcis cupis scīs
is, ea, id plicat debet dicit cupit scit
nos plicāmus debēmus dīcimus cupimus scīmus
vos plicātis debētis dīcitis cupitis scītis
ei, eae, ea plicant debent dīcunt cupiunt sciunt

French present indicative tense

In French, the present tense is used similarly to that of English. Below is an example of present tense conjugation in French.

  parler perdre finir partir
je parle perds finis pars
tu parles perds finis pars
il/elle/on parle perd finit part
nous parlons perdons finissons partons
vous parlez perdez finissez partez
ils/elles parlent perdent finissent partent

To express (and emphasise) the present continuous, expressions such as "en train de" or "en cours de" may be used. For example, Jean est en train de manger, may be translated as John is eating, John is in the middle of eating. On est en train de chercher un nouvel appartement may be translated as We are looking for a new apartment, we are in the process of finding a new apartment.

Italian present indicative tense

In Italian, the present tense is used similarly to that of English. What follows is an example of present indicative tense conjugation in Italian.

  parlare vedere sentire
io parlo vedo sento
tu parli vedi senti
egli/ella parla vede sente
noi parliamo vediamo sentiamo
voi parlate vedete sentite
essi/esse parlano vedono sentono

Portuguese present indicative tense

In Portuguese, the present tense is used almost identically to that of Spanish. What follows is an example of present indicative tense conjugation in Portuguese.

  falar comer insistir
eu falo como insisto
tu falas comes insistes
ele/ela fala come insiste
nós falamos comemos insistimos
vós falais comeis insistis
eles/elas falam comem insistem

Spanish present indicative tense

In Spanish, the present tense is used similarly to that of English. What follows is an example of present tense conjugation in Spanish.

  hablar comer insistir
yo hablo como insisto
hablas comes insistes
él / ella / usted habla come insiste
nosotros hablamos comemos insistimos
vosotros habláis coméis insistís
ellos / ellas / ustedes hablan comen insisten

It should be noted that vosotros and ustedes both signify the second-person plural pronoun. The main difference between the two is that vosotros is more common in Spain whereas only ustedes is used in Latin America.

Slavic languages

Bulgarian present indicative tense

In Bulgarian, the present indicative tense of imperfective verbs is used very similarly to that of English. It can also be used as present progressive. Below is an example of present indicative tense conjugation in Bulgarian.

  писати* говорити* искати* отваряти*
аз пиша говоря искам отварям
ти пишеш говориш искаш отваряш
той, тя, то пише говори иска отваря
ние пишем говорим искаме отваряме
вие пишете говорите искате отваряте
те пишат говорят искат отварят

*Archaic, no infinitive in the modern language.

Macedonian present tense

The present tense of the Macedonian language is made of the imperfective verbs. The following table shows the conjugation of the verbs write (пишува/pišuva), speak (говори/govori), love (сака/saka) and open (отвора/otvora).

  пишува говори сака отворa
јас пишувам говорам сакам отворам
ти пишуваш говориш сакаш отвораш
тој, таа, тоа пишува говори сака отвора
ние пишуваме говориме сакаме отвораме
вие пишувате говорите сакате отворате
тие пишуваат говорат сакаат отвораат

See also


  1. ^ Comrie, Bernard, Tense, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985.

External links

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