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Present Tenses in English Contrasted

 

1. Use

Present Simple Present Continuous Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Continuous
  • repeated actions
  • sequence of actions in the present
  • things in general
action happening at the moment of speaking
  • result of an action in the past is important in the present
  • recently completed action
  • state beginning in the past and still continuing
action beginning in the past and still continuing (focus is on the action)

2. Signal words

Present Simple Present Continuous Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Continuous
  • always
  • every day
  • first….then
  • never
  • often
  • seldom
  • sometimes
  • usually
  • at the moment
  • now
  • Look!
  • Listen!
  • already
  • ever
  • for
  • just
  • never
  • since
  • so far
  • recently
  • up to now
  • yet
  • all day
  • for
  • how long
  • since
  • the whole day

3. Form

Present Simple Present Continuous Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Continuous
infinitive 
3rd person singular (he, she, it) infinitive s
to be (amareis) + infinitive + ing have/has + past participle* have/has + been + infinitive + ing

past participle:

  • regular verbs → infinitive ed
  • irregular verbs → 3rd column of the table of the irregular verbs

4. Examples

4.1. Affirmative sentences

Present Simple Present Continuous Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Continuous
They often watch TV. They are watching TV at the moment. They have just watched TV. They have been watching TV for 2 hours.

4.2. Negative sentences

Present Simple Present Continuous Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Continuous
They do not watch very often. They are not watching TV at the moment. They have not watched TV. They have not been watching TV for 2 hours.

4.3. Questions

Present Simple Present Continuous Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Continuous
Do they watch TV very often? Are they watching TV at the moment? Have they watched TV? Have they been watching TV for 2 hours?