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Present Tense—General Truths

State facts versus observations

 

 

 

Fact vs. Observation

GENERAL TRUTH — FACT

The simple present tense is used to state fact, how things exist or behave (always/ permanently). Few if any adverbs are used.

earth

The earth turns 360º every day.   (fact)

The moon orbits the earth. (permanent)

ocean

The oceans are deep and cold.  

The oceans move in circular currents.

land

The land moves on plates.

Earthquakes occur often.

Poles

Antartica is covered with ice.

The South Pole has strong winds.

wind

Wind blows across the land.

Wind comes from differences in air pressure.

rain

Rain gives water to life.

Rain falls in the winter.

plants

Plants grow in soil.

Plants give us oxygen.

people

People depend on earth's resources.

People exercise for good health. (in general)

time

 Time passes quickly.

Daylight Savings time begins in spring.

AT THE MOMENT—OBSERVATION

The present progressive tense is used to state an observation such as an action happening at the moment or a temporary change from the usual.

observing earth turning

The earth is turning right now as we speak.  (observation)

The earth is changing due to global warming.   (a change from the usual)

polarbears

The oceans are warming(a change from the usual)

The currents are moving farther north.

land is moving

The plates are constantly moving. 

Earthquakes are occurring more frequently.

melting polar ice

The polar ice is melting fast.   

Polar bears are struggling to live.

blowing wind

The wind is blowing umbrellas backwards.

The wind is coming from the north. 

observing rain

This rain is giving us the water we need. 

Rain is falling on my head.   (observation)

growing plants

My plants are growing well.   (observation)

One plant is getting taller.

people running

These people are running for good health.  (observation)

Some people are wearing silly costumes. (temporarily)

time passing slowly

Time is passing slowly.

Daylight Savings Time is ending this weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs

Specify the timing of the activity with time expressions

tomato plant
 

Present Adverbs

PRESENT – ADVERBS

Present tense includes time expressions that express a larger time frame or the frequency  of occurence for a routine activity.

 We plant tomatoes in May in general

["in general" PP]

As a rule, we put  the plants into four-inch holes in the ground.

["as a rule" PP]

We normally water the garden every other day.

["normally"Adv Freq]

We usually pick the tomatoes first.

["usually" Adv Freq]

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE  – ADVERBS

Present progressive includes time expressions that specify shorter time frames, or timing that is happening-now (an internal view  of the on-going experience.)

We are planting tomatoes today

["today" NP]

We are putting the tomato plants in the ground now.

["now" Adv Temp]

We are watering the garden currently.

["currently" Adv Temp]

We are picking the tomatoes this week.

["this week" NP]

 

time frame (N) —a period of time in which something takes place or occurs.

specify (V)—state in detail, indicate clearly

PP – prepositional phrase; Adv Freq – frequency adverb; Adv Temp – temporal (time) adverb

Also see Adverbs for Time and Temporal Expressions.

 

 

 

 

 

Verb Meaning(lexical aspect)

As it relates to timing

 

 

General (Process) vs. Detail (Punctual) Activity

GENERAL ACTIVITY—STATE / PROCESS

The meaning of a verb may express a state or a general activity, a process not related to a time frame. Or it may express a meaning of duration, activity that continues on and is not limited to a time frame. These verbs of process or state usually take the nonprogressive form.                                                                        

STATES—EXISTENCE, POSSESSION, COGNITION, SENSORY, EMOTION

be, act, appear, seem

have, own, possess

believe, know, think, understand, love

amaze, please, satisfy, impress, worry

want, need, love, hate, fear, prefer, expect

feel, taste, smell, hear, see

measure, weigh, cost, equal, include, contain
 

PROCESS—LONG DURATION

age

accustom

grow

learn

live

make

practice

stay

sleep

study

use

work

OCCUPATION or HABIT—CONTINUED DURATION

build

construct

cook

design

drive

engineer (v.)

fly

govern

manage

nurse (v.)

operate

travel

DETAIL ACTIVITY—PUNCTUAL—HAS AN END TIME

A verb may also express a detail activity that is short in duration with a clear beginning and ending time. This verb of punctual activity often occurs in the progressive form and expresses repetition or a temporary change from the usual activity.  He works at Google (general); He is working on some coding (detail).

QUICK ACTION—MOMENTARY DURATION

begin

blink

close

end

fall

jump

open

shoot

sneeze

SHORT ACTIVITY—LIMITED DURATION

ask

buy

call

choose

introduce

laugh

lift

look at

pick up

sit down

throw

wash

SHORT ACTIVITY—LONGER DURATION

ache

dance

drink

eat

play

run

shower

sing

visit

walk

watch

wear

 

aspect (N)—the manner in which an activity relates to time (temporal flow)—ongoing, continuous, repetitive, habitual. See Tense, Aspect & Mood.

lexical aspect—the natural meaning of the word that expresses timing—ongoing, continuous, repetitive, habitual.

grammatical aspect—the linking of auxiliary verbs to express timing—ongoing, continuous, repetitive, habitual.

process (N)—an activity or action not related to a time frame; the activity may be ongoing or continuous.

punctual (Adj)—an activity related to a time frame, having a clear starting and stopping time; the activity may be repeated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Tense

Word Order

 

 

 

AUXILIARY VERB SUBJECT AUXILIARY VERB MAIN VERB ADVERB CLAUSE
STATEMENT          

 

He  (She)

 

plants

in the spring. 

 

 

They (I, We, You)

 

plant

in the spring. 
 

 

QUESTION          

Does

he  (she)

 

plant   

in the spring?

 

Do 

they (I, we, you)
 

 

plant   

in the spring?

 

* TAG QUESTION          

 

He  (She)

 

plants

in the spring,

doesn't  he?

 

They (I, We, You)
 

 

plant

in the spring,

don't they?

NEGATIVE          

 

He  (She)

doesn't  

plant

in the spring.

 

 

They (I, We, You)
 

don't

plant

in the spring.

 

EMPHASIS          

 

He  (She)

does

plant

in the spring!

 

 

They (I, We, You)

do
 

plant

in the spring!

 

*A tag question can also occur with a negative main sentence and a positive final question: They don't plant in the spring, do they?   See And so / too.       
Use emphasis word order when contradicting or stating that the opposite is true: "I think they don't plant in the spring."   "No, they do plant in the spring."  

Related page: 3rd Person Agreement 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors & Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

*The wind is blowing during the winter. 

*The earth is spinning faster than Mars.
 

SOLUTION

The wind blows during the winter.  
( The progressive verb is not used with during.)

The earth spins faster than Mars. 
(The progressive verb is not used for a permanent state.)

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

► Show Grammar Notes and Works Cited ▼ Hide Grammar Notes

Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Descriptions

 

 

Traditional Description and Linguistic

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION

Traditional grammar diagrams 'parse' or separate sentences into parts (e.g., subject, verb, object) into mostly linear components. A line's length, position or angle indicates the relative function of the word in the sentence.. 

REED-KELLOGG SYSTEM DIAGRAM

The wind blows

The wind blows leaves

The wind is strong

The wind blows in the winter

LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

Linguistic tree diagrams are composed of angled brackets which mark the subject and the predicate. The sub-parts are commonly, but not always, divided into two parts.

TREE DIAGRAM

The wind blows

My family plants tomatoes

The wind is strong

The wind blows in the winter

 

Categories "Parts of Speech": N – noun; NPnoun phrase; V – verb; Aux – auxiliary; VP – verb phrase; Adj – adjective; AdjP – adjective phrase; Adv – adverb; AdvP – adverb phrase; P – preposition; PP – prepositional phrase; Detdeterminer; DP – determinative phrase.

Other abbreviations: Ger – gerund; Inf – infinitive; PPart – past participle; NFnonfinite; F – finite; Cls – clause; Subord – subordinator; Coord – coordinator; DO – direct object; IO – indirect object.

Word Functions: Subj – Subject; Pred – Predicate/Predicator – Pred; Compcomplement:  elements required by an expression to complete its meaning ;  Adjunct: — adjunct: elements not required by an expression to complete its meaning; Suplsupplement: a clause or phrase added to a clause but not closely related to the central idea or structure of the main clause.

 

 

Works Cited

  • Azar, Betty Schrampfer, and Stacy A. Hagen. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • O'Brien, Elizabeth. "Diagramming Sentences Exercises: Chapter 1." English Grammar Revolution. 2016. english-grammar-revolution.com/english-grammar-exercise.html. Accessed on 10 Oct. 2016.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.
  • "Sentence diagram." Wikipedia. 28 Sep. 2016. Accessed on 10 Oct. 2016.

 

 

 

 

Practice

Fact vs. Observation

 

 

 

Is it a general truth (fact) or an observation (observation at the moment)?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 1-8" button.

 

1.
Moon

 

2.
watch


3.
watch


4.
kids


5.
kids


6.
kids


7.
kids

8.
kids