Grammar Reference

Uses of the present

Present time

We use the present simple tense for things that we do regularly and for facts, habits, truths and permanent situations. We often use time expressions like every day, once a week, on Fridays.

  • I check my email every day. (regular activity)
  • Yuki works at the bank. (permanent situation)

Future time 

We use the present simple to talk about timetabled future events

  • I'd better hurry, my bus leaves in 5 minutes.
  • The exam starts at 9

Past time

1) Telling a story

This makes the events more immediate and exciting for the listener.

  • Last year I was swimming off the coast in NZ when suddenly I see a shark fin heading towards me…

2) Newspaper headlines

Journalists often use the present not the past in newspaper headlines to make newspaper stories more exciting, fresh and immediate.

  • Man dies in forest fire.

3) With hear, tell, gather, say

This puts more emphasise on the information we heard rather than the fact you heard it.

  • I hear you're getting married!
  • She says she didn't like the present!

4) When telling jokes

This makes the joke more immediate and dramatic for the listener (even if the joke is not very funny!)

  • A man walks into a bar...