* There are four present tenses – present simple (`I walk’), present continuous (`I am walking’), present perfect (`I have walked’), and present perfect continuous (`I have been walking’).
* All the present tenses are used to refer to a time which includes the present.
* Present tenses can also be used for predictions made in the present about future events.
1 There are four tenses which begin with a verb in the present tense. They are the present simple, the present continuous, the present perfect, and the present perfect continuous. These are the present tenses.
2 The present simple and the present continuous are used with reference to present time. If you are talking about the general present, or about a regular or habitual action, you use the present simple.
George lives in Birmingham.
They often phone my mother in London.
If you are talking about something in the present situation, you use the present continuous.
He’s playing tennis at the University.
I’m cooking the dinner.
The present continuous is often used to refer to a temporary situation.
She’s living in a flat at present.
3 You use the present perfect or the present perfect continuous when you are concerned with the present effects of something which happened at a time in the past, or which started in the past but is still continuing.
Have you seen the film at the Odeon?
We’ve been waiting here since before two o’clock.
4 If you are talking about something which is scheduled or timetabled to happen in the future, you can use the present simple tense.
The next train leaves at two fifteen in the morning.
It’s Tuesday tomorrow.
5 If you are talking about something which has been arranged for the future, you can use the present continuous. When you use the present continuous like this, there is nearly always a time adverbial like `tomorrow’, `next week’, or `later’ in the clause.
We’re going on holiday with my parents this year.
The Browns are having a party next week.
6 It is only in the main clauses that the choice of tense can be related to a particular time. In subordinate clauses, for example in `if’- clauses, time clauses, and defining relative clauses, present tenses often refer to a future time in relation to the time in the main clause.
You can go at five if you have finished.
Let’s have a drink before we start.
We’ll save some food for anyone who arrives late.
7 The present simple tense normally has no auxiliary verb, but questions and negative sentences are formed with the auxiliary `do’.
Do you live round here?
Does your husband do most of the cooking?
They don’t often phone during the week.
She doesn’t like being late if she can help it.