The tense of a verb indicates when in time that verb’s action takes place. Writers use verb tenses to give their readers a sense of time in their writing, indicating how the events and ideas they describe or develop are situated in time.
There are six major verb tenses in English, and they specifically designate the verb’s action in the present, past, or future.
This is the most basic present verb tense available in English. This tense indicates that the action is happening at the present time or immediately.
I run marathons.
I listen to bluegrass music.
Jay-Z plays Madison Square Garden every year.
My girlfriend changes her mind often.
I do my English 101 homework as soon as I get home from school.
Freshmen register after all upper-class students.
The university offers many choices in upper-level electives.
My dad enjoys minestrone soup and saltine crackers.
The museum opens at eleven.
This tense indicates that the verb’s action at first occurred in the past but is continuing at present or still is having an effect on the present. The sample sentences below are in the present perfect tense—the statements in brackets next to them indicate how their action is understood to continue into the present.
I have run marathons for several years. [and still do]
I have listened to bluegrass music since I was a teenager. [and still do]
Jay-Z has played Madison Square Garden every year. [and is expected to do so this year]
My girlfriend has changed her mind often. [and is expected to do so again]
I have done my English 101 homework as soon as I get home from school. [and continue to do so]
Freshmen have registered after all upper-class students. [and are still required to do so]
The University has offered many choices in upper-level electives. [and still does]
My dad has enjoyed minestrone soup and saltine crackers. [and still does]
Exercise: Identifying Present Tenses
In the following sentences, identify the type of present tense used.
- My wife runs to the store when we get low on coffee. Tense: _________________
- Professor Kori’s English 305 class is quite challenging. Tense: _________________
- My 1974 Jeep has run perfectly for the past six years. Tense: _________________
- The sidewalk on the north side of Monroe Street has cracked. Tense: _________________
- Peter’s suggestion about how to resolve the company’s I.T. infrastructure makes me nervous. Tense: _________________
- April’s grandfather has lost his glasses. Tense: _________________
- The Appeals Committee has met on Tuesdays. Tense: _________________
- Steve’s father, who is a coal miner, dreams of a less stressful and dangerous life for his kids. Tense: _________________
- The flash drive I keep my documents on makes a funny noise whenever I put it into a computer. Tense: _________________
- Blue has been my favorite color. Tense: _________________
Exercise: Present and Present Perfect Tenses
Correct the following incorrect uses of the present and present perfect tenses. Note: each of these is intended to convey something in the present or present perfect tense—as written, they might be technically grammatically correct, but they all use the present tenses incorrectly.
- I have saw the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean many times.
- Juliana’s grandmother make hand-made blankets to sell at craft shows.
- Most television news anchors have study for a degree in journalism at some point.
- My cousin’s fiancé Jason, a carpenter, have built many houses.
- Kira and her partner George have runned a software company for six years.
- Janice has runned the Boston Marathon six times.
- I stubbed my toe on the edge of the door frame every night.
- The museum close at five on Sundays.
- I have enroll in Ms. Hazel’s English 101
- Bert step on nails every time he goes out on a job site without adequate footwear on.