present tense


Definition of present tense

: the tense of a verb that expresses action or state in the present time and is used of what occurs or is true at the time of speaking and of what is habitual or characteristic or is always or necessarily true, that is sometimes used to refer to action in the past, and that is sometimes used for future events

Examples of present tense in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The movie unfolds in present tense and the music has to consider that always. Paul Grein, Billboard, "Oscar Score & Song Nominees Reveal How They Reacted to the News," 24 Jan. 2020 Instead, the proceedings unfold in the present tense, astonishing the viewer anew with their breathtaking scale and the matter-of-fact composure of the three astronauts. The Economist, "What to watch The best films released in 2019," 19 Dec. 2019 Also note that last year’s entries were in present tense. Washington Post, "Style Conversational Week 1361: The old (crystal) ball game," 5 Dec. 2019 The Detroit Pistons are hoping Griffin was right to use the present tense after signing Rose as a free agent this offseason. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pistons’ Rose, Johnson are big names with something to prove," 18 Oct. 2019 When visiting your old college campus, try to stay in the present tense. Beth Thames |, al, "‘I remember when there used to be...’," 30 Oct. 2019 Appropriately for a story set among psychoanalysts, memories in The Topeka School are sounded and interpreted; the parents’ present tense is the scene of remembering itself. Christine Smallwood, Harper's magazine, "Novel, Essay, Poem," 16 Sep. 2019 And any response people have in the present tense is going to be pretty ephemeral. Joe Fassler, The Atlantic, "Chuck Klosterman Doesn’t Believe in ‘Good Taste’," 18 July 2019 The little difference makes a big difference, emphasizing collaboration over the economy of the gift, suggesting that the poet and his company are fellow travelers, in the same time zone, alongside each other in the present tense of composition. Ben Lerner, Harper's magazine, "Resistances," 10 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'present tense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of present tense

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of present tense was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Present tense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for present tense

present tense


English Language Learners Definition of present tense

: a verb tense that is used to refer to the present

present tense


Kids Definition of present tense

: a verb tense that expresses action or state in the present time and is used of what is true at the time of speaking or is always true

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More from Merriam-Webster on present tense

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with present tense

Nglish: Translation of present tense for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about present tense

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