Welcome to EUROCENTRES blog

What’s the Difference Between Simple, Perfect and Continuous? How To Choose The Right  Present Tense!

Image representing students learning how to create a great LinkedIn Profile in English

Did you know that the present tense has more than one form?

Or that each one is used in a different way?

If that comes as a surprise, don’t worry! We’ll take a closer look at each one and find out exactly how to use them – just read on!

The present simple tense

The present simple tense, as you might be able to tell from the name, is one of the simplest forms of the present tense. So how exactly is it used?

The most common way it is used is for things that happen regularly. This can include an activity you might do on a daily or regular basis, or something that happens on a consistent pattern.

For example:

“He stays in the same hotel every month.”

It’s also used when you are expressing something that is true or a recognised fact.

For example:

“There are 12 months in each year.” 

And finally, it’s also used when you are describing something that will be happening very soon.

For example :

“The train leaves at 4pm.”

The present continuous tense

The present continuous tense is probably the tense that comes closest to what you would expect the present tense to be.

It’s used when you are describing something that is happening in the immediate moment you are talking about, rather than in the near future. It’s also only used when you are describing something that is happening just once, rather than a regular occurrence.

For example:

“I am talking on the phone right now.”

You can also use this tense to describe an activity that is happening over a longer duration of time.

For example:

“David Cameron is the Prime Minister of the UK.”

To use this tense, you use am/is/are and follow it with the present participle.

The present perfect tense

The last form of the present tense is actually used to describe the past, such as an experience you might have had, or to compare how things might have changed from the past to the current time.

For example:

“She has lost a lot of weight.”

“You have grown taller since last year.”

To use this tense you use “as” or “have” and follow it with the past participle:

Eg. “I have seen that movie before.”

Eg. “You have lost weight since I last saw you!”

You can also use the present perfect tense for a few other special situations.

Your turn

The present tense isn’t as complicated as you might think! Even though there are three different forms by practicing how to use them you can soon get the hang of them. Try using each form in a different sentence!