SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE
The PRESENT TENSE uses the verb's base form (write, work), or, for third-person singular subjects, the base form plus an -s ending (he writes, she works). The PRESENT TENSE indicates that an action is present, now, relative to the speaker or writer. Generally, it is used to describe actions that are factual or habitual -- things that occur in the present but that are not necessarily happening right now: "It rains a lot in Portland" is a kind of timeless statement. Compare that to the present progressive -- "It is raining in Portland" -- which means that something is, in fact, going on right now. "I use my bike to get around town." is in the present, but I'm not actually on my bike right now. An instantaneous sense of the present can be conveyed with either the simple present or the progressive: "Watch him now: he holds [is holding] down the control key at the same time that he presses [is pressing] the letter d." The present tense is used to describe events that are scheduled (by nature or by people): "High tide is at 3:15 p.m. The Super Bowl starts at 6:15 p.m." The present tense can be used to suggest the past with what is sometimes called the fictional (or historic) present: "We were watching the back door when, all of a sudden, in walks Dierdre." With verbs of communicating, the present tense can also suggest a past action: "Dierdre tells me that she took her brother to the dentist." Most oddly, the present tense can convey a sense of the future, especially with verbs such as arrive, come, and leave that suggest a kind of plan or schedule: "The train from Boston arrives this afternoon at two o'clock." SIMPLE PAST TENSE
The PAST TENSE indicates that an action is in the past relative to the speaker or writer. when the time period has finished: "We went to Chicago last Christmas." when the time period is definite: "We visited Mom last week." with for, when the action is finished: "I worked with the FBI for two months." Regular verbs use the verb's base form (scream, work) plus the -ed ending (screamed, worked). Irregular verbs alter their form in some other way (slept, drank, drove). SIMPLE FUTURE TENSE
The FUTURE TENSE indicates that an action is in the future relative to the speaker or writer. There are no inflected forms for the future in English (nothing like those -ed or -s endings in the other tenses). Instead, the future tense employs the helping verbs will or shall with the base form of the verb: She will leave soon.
We shall overcome.
The future is also formed with the use of a form of "go" plus the infinitive of the verb: He is going to faint.
English can even use the present to suggest the future tense: I am leaving later today."
Note that the auxiliary will can be combined with "be" and a progressive form of the main verb to create a sense of the future that does not harbor any hint of insistence (which is possible with the auxiliary alone). For instance, if stress is placed on the word will in "When will you arrive?", the sentence can sound impatient, insistent. In "When will you be arriving?" there is less of that emotional overtone. The construction form of to be + infinitive is used to convey a sense of planning for the future, command, or contingency. There is to be an investigation into the mayor's business affairs. You are to be back on the base by midnight.
If he is to pass this exam, he'll have to study harder.
To create a sense of imminent fulfillment, the word about can be combined with the infinitive. He is about to die.
Other adverbs can be used in similar constructions with various effects: He is liable to get in trouble.
She is certain to do well in college.
PRESENT PERFECT TENSE
The PRESENT PERFECT TENSE is formed with a present tense form of "to have" plus the past participle of the verb (which can be either regular or irregular in form). This tense indicates either that an action was completed (finished or "perfected") at some point in the past or that...
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