Common mistakes with simple present and present perfect tenses

Simple present tense

In the simple present tense, the verb takes the marker –s when the subject is a singular noun or pronoun.

Study the examples given below.

  • Sheena teaches at a school.
  • Martin helps his sister with her homework.
  • He enjoys swimming.

Note that the verb does not take –s when the subject is a plural noun or pronoun.

  • Children rush about. (NOT Children rushes about.)
  • Boys want to impress girls. (NOT Boys wants to impress girls.)

Notes

The verb does not have the –s ending when the subject is the first person singular pronoun ‘I’ and the second person singular pronoun ‘you’.

  • I write for websites.
  • You make me happy.

Remember that plural nouns usually end in –s, but plural verbs do not have the –s ending. Examples: boy -> boys; girl – girls

  • These boys like to paint.

Singular nouns do not end in –s, but singular verbs end in –s.

  • This boy likes to paint.

The present perfect tense

The present perfect tense is used to talk about finished actions in the past, but it cannot be used with time expressions referring to the past. For example, you cannot use time expressions like yesterday, last week, last year or in 1990 with the present perfect tense. With these expressions you need the simple past tense.

Study the examples given below.

  • I met James yesterday. (NOT I have met James yesterday. The adverb ‘yesterday’ refers to the past. It cannot be used with present perfect tense.)
  • My grandfather built this house in 1960. (NOT My grandfather has built this house in 1960.)

In the above sentence, the expression ‘in 1960’ makes it clear that the action took place in the past and hence the present perfect tense cannot be used with it.

Note that the present perfect tense can be used with the time expressions ever, never, before, just, already and yet.

The following sentences may contain errors. Correct them.

  1. I writes with my left hand.
  2. They work hard.
  3. She enjoy singing.
  4. I have visited Australia last year.
  5. I watched that film last year.
  6. He has graduated in 2012.
  7. They have returned from the US.

Answers

  1. I write with my left hand.
  2. They work hard.
  3. She enjoys singing.
  4. I visited Australia last year.
  5. I watched that film last week.
  6. He graduated in 2012.
  7. They have returned from the US.

 

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