Present tense

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The present tense, and, more precisely, the present tense in one of its aspects, the simple present, is one of only two tenses in English (that is, genuine inflected tenses). (Other constructions that look like tenses are really verb phrases.) In the [[[active voice]] the two easy forms of the present aspects are these.

  • The simple present tense is a single word. It is the base form of the verb, except in the 3rd person singular, where it regularly adds '-s' (or '-es' etc, according to certain rules).
  • The continuous present tense is formed with the Auxiliary verb 'to be' + the -ing participle. Examples are "I am writing", "you are reading" and "she is doing something else".

It is a characteristic of some forms of English from outside Britain that they are inclined to use the two aspects of the present tense in ways that native British speakers do not. Some south Asian speakers have a tendency, for example, to use the continuous "I am thinking" where the British tend to say "I think"; in some forms of Black Vernacular English the continuous present is formed by the -ing participle alone, with no auxiliary verb.