English Present Tenses Comparison

Introduction

The present tenses in English Grammar are the simple present, the present progressive, also present continuous, the present perfect and the present perfect progressive, also present perfect continuous. We can also use the future simple and progressive to make assumptions about something happing in the present.

Learn the difference between the present tenses in English grammar and when to use them correctly in a sentence. With Lingolia’s exercises, you can practise what you have learnt.

Example

  • Look! Buster is sleeping in the armchair!
  • I know. He sleeps there every day.
  • I have been looking for him outside for half an hour, you know. When I didn’t find him outside I thought, “He will probably be inside.”
  • Well, now you’ve found him.
  • How long has he been lying there?
  • For about an hour. Look, he is dreaming.
  • He will probably be dreaming of a nice bowl of milk.
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Usage

The chart below provides an overview of the differences in usage between the English present tenses: simple present, present progressive, present perfect and present perfect progressive.

tenseusage
simple present

indicates regularity or facts and general truths

Example:
He sleeps there every day.
Buster is two years old.
present progressive

emphasises that an action is currently taking place

Example:
Look! Buster is sleeping in the armchair!
He is dreaming.
present perfect simple

an action has just been completed

Example:
Now you have found him.

whether/how often until now

Example:
The cat has never got lost.

action in the past with a connection to the present

Example:
The cat has fallen asleep.

The cat is still asleep now.

present perfect progressive

emphasises the progression of an action from the past until now (except for static verbs that can’t be used in the progressive form for example: be, think, smell etc.)

Example:
I have been looking for him outside for half an hour, you know.
How long has he been lying there?
future simple

supposition about a condition/process in the present

Example:
He will probably be inside.
future progressive

supposition about what is currently happening

Example:
He will probably be dreaming of a nice bowl of milk.

Conjugation

For information on the conjugation of these tenses, see:

For information about verbs the can’t be used in the progressive form, see: