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 Stephanie still talks about Shawn in the present tense. Jr Sullivan, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: The Vanishing," 23 Dec. 2020 For starters, the practice forces everyone to tune out distractions and focus on the present tense — and on each other. Matt Villano, CNN, "10 outdoor game ideas for the whole family," 16 Dec. 2020 Cutler doesn’t look back so much as try to tell Belushi’s story in a present tense. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "John Belushi in Focus: What a New Film Gets Right and What It Misses," 22 Nov. 2020 George sometimes still talks about his wife in the present tense. Patrick Connolly,, "Orlando man goes ‘all out’ for Halloween to honor his late wife," 19 Oct. 2020 The case: Fifteen years have passed since 19-year-old Justin Moore died, but his mother still talks about him in the present tense. Amber Hunt, The Enquirer, "Backstory: Justin Moore's unsolved slaying leaves 'empty, hollow hole' in mother," 18 Sep. 2020 But since McEvoy’s haunting female howl is singing lead instead of yet another Cobainnabe, the sound, while familiar, is present tense. Matt Wake |, al, "Next wave Alabama musicians: An angry band for angry times," 18 Sep. 2020 Each section had to start in the present tense, include an exchange with another person, etc. Ann Levin, Star Tribune, "Review: A writer reflects on contradictions of capitalism," 2 Sep. 2020 Whether ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ will ever occupy the simple present tense. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "This Week in Books: We’ve All Been Briefed," 10 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of present tense

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about present tense

Time Traveler for present tense

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for present tense

Last Updated

8 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Present tense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on present tense

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

Comments on present tense

What made you want to look up present tense? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!