English Grammar Guide for ESL

Present tense

In this section: Description, Exercises


The present verb form usually indicates an action that takes place in the present (I hear a plane). However, it can also describe actions that are generally true (I like dogs) and can even be used for events that have not yet happened (e.g.: I arrive tomorrow).

How to Form the Present Tense

For the vast majority of verbs, the present tense has the same form as the infinitive, e.g.: to like > I like, you like, we like, they like. The exception to this is the third person singular (e.g.: he, she, it). For these, the present tense is formed by adding -s if the word ends in a consonant or silent vowel (e.g.: The teacher works, She likes) or -es if the word ends in -o, -ch, -ss, or -zz pronounced vowel (e.g.: He goes, it buzzes). Note that verbs ending in consonant + -y change to -ies, e.g.: She tries).

Irregular Present Tense Forms

There are few irregular forms in the present tense. The main one you need to be aware of is be:

Pronoun Form of be
I am
you are
he/she/it is
we are
they are

The verb have functions like most other verbs in the present (e.g.: I have, you have), though the third person singular is different (e.g.: She has).

In this section: Description, Exercises

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