If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

The present tense

How do we talk about things that are happening right now?

Want to join the conversation?

  • hopper cool style avatar for user Jett Burns
    Are there examples of present tenses that can also be past or future tenses?
    (35 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user David Rheinstrom
      Yes indeed. Three spring to mind right away.

      One is called the historical present, which is when we talk about things in the past using the present tense to make them seem more relevant. It looks like this:

      It's 1932, and The Great Depression is in full swing. My grandfather is ten years old, and he's sitting on a stoop in Brooklyn, waiting for his buddies, so he can go play stickball.

      There's also this construction where we can use the present tense to indicate the future, as in
      Raoul is getting his teeth cleaned on Friday, so he won't be free.
      or
      I'm so excited for my trip; we leave next week.

      You can also use the present tense for the future in a conditional sentence (which is something we haven't covered yet in these tutorials), as in:
      If Godzilla eats the atomic cookie, Tokyo is doomed for sure!
      In the above sentence, the scenario wherein Godzilla eats an atomic cookie (whatever that is) hasn't happened yet; it's a future possibility, and yet we use the present tense for it.

      Why is that? I have no idea. English is weird.
      (73 votes)
  • spunky sam blue style avatar for user Keith Hudson
    Please explain "I eat a doughnut" being present tense. I can see "I am eating a doughnut" or "I eat doughnuts," but not this example. Thanks.
    (33 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • male robot hal style avatar for user oscar aleman-gallegos
    wouldn't it be i am eating a donut instead of i eat a donut
    (9 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • leaf orange style avatar for user Benny C
      They are both forms of the present tense, but "I am eating" is the present continuous, while "I eat a donut" is the present simple. In a situation and sentence like that, it's more common to hear the continuous form. Both are right.
      (11 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user RAMOTALAHI923
    how come it is not eated but it is ate
    (8 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby purple style avatar for user XxGamesxX
    At , the tense "I eat a Donut" is grammatically incorrect. Isn't the correct PT "I'm eating a Donut"? Because, I happen to be a grammar person, so I'm very particular.
    (7 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • female robot amelia style avatar for user Johanna
      “I eat a donut” is in the present tense, specifically the aspect called the simple present. “I am eating a donut “ is the present progressive/ present continuous aspect.

      While “I eat a donut” may sound odd on its own, it works as an example of a verb being in the present tense. Also, consider something like “I eat a donut every Sunday.” It sounds more like a normal sentence, but if you take away the adverbial phrase “every Sunday”, you’re left with the same subject and verb (and article “a”): “I eat a donut.”

      Does that help?
      (4 votes)
  • aqualine sapling style avatar for user Bookworm kinda girl 📚
    Can the example David { The coach's name } took be like I am eating a donut?
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • spunky sam green style avatar for user Balasim J.Harbi
    this video can't be playing
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      When that happens to me, here's what I do.
      1) Log out.
      2) Shut down the computer.
      3) Go do something fun for a while. I recommend shooting hoops.
      4) Return to the computer.
      5) Restart the computer.
      6) Log back in to Khan Academy
      7) Try watching the video again, from the very beginning.
      8) If that doesn't help, then at least shooting hoops should have been fun for a while.

      If this is helpful, please let me know.
      (4 votes)
  • blobby blue style avatar for user Midnightstar
    "I eat a donut" sounds a little odd isn't he suppose to say "I am eating a donut"?
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • female robot amelia style avatar for user Johanna
      “I eat a donut” can actually be correct, though it doesn’t make much sense on its own. To me at least, “I eat a donut every Sunday” sounds fine. “I am eating a donut” does mean you are currently eating one right at this moment, and is also correct.
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user marald04
    Isn't it "Im eating a donut" instead of "I eat a donut"? Like its happening in The Present Time,(right now)hope someone will help me with this!
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user dancing118
    At do you mean that there are ways a word can look like that and not be in the present tense?
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello, grammarians! Welcome to the present tense, or that which is happening right now. The present tense is how we talk about things that are happening in the present moment. Like, "I eat a donut." If I say it that way, it means it's happening right now in the present as opposed to happening later, in the future, or before now, in the past. The present tense is what's happening right now. If you can just imagine, just put the words "right now" at the end of anything that takes place in the present. "I eat a donut right now." "Louise doesn't want a catapult right now." "The water is super cold right now." "Bertie is singing in the shower right now." All of these sentences are taking place in what we call the present. There are a couple of ways to form the present tense, and I demonstrated two of them here. So we can say "eat" or "doesn't" or "is". We can also say "is singing". So when you generally have something that has "is" and "ing" in it, means it's happening right now. It's happening in the present tense. So yeah, those are two of the ways to form the present. If the verb is kind of unadorned, if it's kind of plain, "I eat a donut.", not "I was eating a donut." or "I ate a donut." or "I will eat a donut." if it's just kind of on its own like this, it's probably gonna be in the present tense. Likewise, if you see the word "is" and then "ing", that also means it's in the present tense. That's what you gotta know about the present tense. It's happening now. You can learn anything. David, out.