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When to Use Present Tenses – Simple, Continuous, Perfect and Perfect Continuous

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Charu was trying to understand tenses. She was just starting to understand the different Present tenses – Simple Present, Present Continuous, Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous tenses. She met Shashi, with whom she had this conversation. And lo and behold! Tenses suddenly started making sense.

Charu: Hi! My name is Charu. Who are you?

Shashi: Hi Charu! I am Shashikant. But people usually call me Shashi.

Notice how Charu and Shashi are introducing themselves. They tell each other their names. Names are facts – things that we can definitely find out if they are true or not i.e. either they are  true or false. There is no other way of looking at it. Notice how when stating facts such as their names, they use the simple present tense. Also, Shashi mentions that people usually know him as Shashi and not Shashikant. These kinds of habitual (repeated) actions are also conveyed through the simple present tense. ‘Is’, ‘are’, ‘am’, ‘call’ are all verbs in the simple present tense.

Charu: It is nice to meet you, Shashi. What do you do?

Shashi: Right now I am working on a project for the government. I have completed a Bachelors in Chemistry just this April.

Notice how Shashi is talking about what he is doing continuously or regularly these days. Such actions are used in the present continuous tense. The next sentence states his action which he completed just recently, and is valid even now at present. Such actions use the present perfect tense.

Charu: That is wonderful! Don’t you want to get a Master’s degree?

Shashi: Yes, I do. I have been studying every night for the entrance exams.

It looks like Shashi started the process of studying at some point in the past and it continues even now. Here the process and result are both important. So he uses the present perfect continuous tense.  

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