English Tenses for Beginners: The Present

The “present tense” is the most important English tense. It is important because it is the easiest tense, and you will use it most of the time. When you want to talk about facts, simple statements, or things that happen right at the moment or every day, you use the “present tense.” There are four “present tenses” in English. But we will only show you the three most common present tenses. There are also “signal words” that will help you. 

Present Simple

You use the “Present Simple” tense to talk about things that happen often. But you use it also to talk about facts or planned events. Remember that you need to add an “s” when you talk about other people or things.

  • Statement: You speak English.
  • Negative Statement: You don’t (do not) speak English.
  • Question: Do you speak English?
  • Statement: He speaks English.
  • Negative Statement: He doesn’t (does not) speak English.
  • Question: Does he speak English?

Used for:

1) Repeated Actions & Events

  • I play golf.
  • He doesn’t play golf.
  • The bus leaves every day at 8 AM.
  • She always forgets to do her homework.
  • You never forget your phone.
  • Steve visits his grandmother from time to time.

2) Facts

  • Dogs like meat.
  • The Earth circles the Sun.
  • Austria is not a nickname for Australia.
  • Do all cats hate dogs?
  • I am a student of this school.

3) Scheduled Events

  • The movie starts at 8 PM.
  • The bus leaves in 20 minutes.
  • When does the class begin tomorrow?
  • The train leaves at 11 AM, not at 11:30 AM.
  • When do you board the plane?

Signal Words:

  • always
  • only
  • never
  • ever 
  • still
  • often
  • usually
  • sometimes

Present Continuous / Present Progressive

You use the Present Continuous / Present Progressive (it’s both the same) to talk about an action or event happening right at the moment. It is formed using am/is/are + verb + “-ing”.

  • Statement: He is talking on the phone now.
  • Negative Statement: I’m not joking right now. 
  • Question: Are you working at the moment?


  • I’m doing my homework now.
  • Is he sleeping?
  • They are watching TV.
  • She isn’t working at the moment.
  • Are you listening?

Signal Words:

  • now
  • right now
  • at the moment
  • just now

Present Perfect

The “Present Perfect” is a little more difficult to understand. It is a combination of the past and the present. You use it for actions that started in the past and ended in the present. The “Present Perfect” is also used when you talk about experiences that happened in the past, but you don’t know the exact time. It is formed with have/has + regular verb + “-ed”. For “irregular verbs,” it is a little bit different, but we will talk about this in another lesson.

  • Statement: I have just finished my homework.
  • Negative Statement: He hasn’t had dinner for days.
  • Question: Have you gone home?

Used for:

1) Things From The Past That Happened Until Now

  • He hasn’t finished his homework yet.
  • We’ve just left for school. 
  • Since when has he been the team’s coach?

2) Events/Experiences Happening During an Unknown Time Before Now

  • We’ve lived in Canada for some years.
  • I have been a student of this school.
  • Our daughter has learned how to read.

Signal Words:

  • already
  • ever
  • just
  • never
  • not yet
  • so far
  • until now
  • up to now