top of page
Search

English Present Tenses for German Speakers.

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

The German present tense das Präsens can be expressed in English with five (yes five…) different tenses. Identifying which ones we use and when is a frequent source of confusion for many German speakers.


Ich arbeite taglich. I work every day. (Present Simple).

Ich arbeite gerade. I am working now. (Present Continuous).

Ich arbeite morgen. I will work tomorrow. (Future Simple).

Ich arbeite hier seit 2018. I have worked here since 2018. (Present Perfect).

Ich arbeite hier seit 2018. I have been working here since 2018. (Present Perfect Continuous).


For German speakers, avoiding overusing the Present Simple, which is the tense that most closely looks like the German Präsens, and correctly using the tenses in English can cause significant problems at any level of language proficiency. This document offers an overview of all the tenses used above, though further detailed practice and explanation can be found in my other materials.


It's also worth remembering that 90% of all English tense usage is done with 5 tenses - basically, the first 4 above, and the Past Simple instead of the Present Perfect Continuous. (Present Simple, Present Continuous, Present Perfect, Future Simple and Past Simple).



___________


Overview of the Tenses

  1. Present Simple - used to describe habitual or regular actions, routines, general truths, or permanent situations. Example: "I drink coffee every morning. Key time expressions: always, usually, often, sometimes, rarely, never, every day/week/month/year, on Mondays/Tuesdays/etc. in the morning/afternoon/evening.

  2. Present Continuous - used to describe actions that are happening right now, or ongoing actions that started in the past and will continue in the future. Example: "I am currently typing on my computer." it is also used for future plans that exist in the present. Example: "I am going to the cinema tomorrow". Key time expressions: now, at the moment, currently, right now, this minute/hour/day/week, these days, lately.

  3. Present Perfect - used to describe actions that happened at an unspecified time in the past but are still relevant in the present, or actions that started in the past and continue up to the present. Key time expressions: Example: "I have already read this article twice." or "I have worked in my company for 8 years". Key time expressions: already, yet, just, ever, never, before, for a long/short time, since, recently, lately.

  4. Future Simple - used to describe actions that will happen in the future. Example: "I will go to the gym tomorrow." Key time expressions: tomorrow, next week/month/year, in the future, soon, on Monday/Tuesday/etc.


___________


Exercise 1: Complete the sentences below with the correct form of the verb in the brackets. (the answers are below).


1. Our team meeting ___________ every Monday. (to take place).

2. I ___________ for my company for 6 years. (to work).

3. I ___________ him since 2010. (to know)

4. We ___________ on a new project today. (to work).

5. We ___________ deliveries once a week, on Tuesdays. (to send).

6. I hope this email ___________ you well. (to find).

7. Normally I would be able to attend a meeting at five thirty, but I ___________ until five pm today. (to work).

8. I ___________ his workload until he returns from annual leave. (to manage).

9. We ___________ to employ 5 more staff members. (to need).

10. The law ___________ that employees should have regular breaks. (to say).

11. They ___________ in the meeting room on the third floor at the moment. (to talk).

12. I ___________ that would be a good idea. (to think)

13. I ___________ about the advert that was posted in the newspaper. (to call).

14. I ___________ responsible for managing 6 people in my team. (to be)

15. I ___________ the office for the next hour, could you tell anyone that calls that will call them back later. (to leave)

16. I ___________ working from home. (to not like)

17. He ___________ from Scotland I think. (to come)

18. He usually ___________ very quickly. (tocall back)

19. They ___________ on this project at the moment, but it’s only temporary. (to work)

20. The new regulation ___________ employees to work from home. (to require)

21. Our company ___________ over 500 employees. (to have)

22. (to somebody on the phone) Sorry, I can’t hear you properly, my colleague ___________ to me at the same time. (to speak).



____________


Exercise 2: Meeting Room Narrative: Complete the text below using the verbs in the brackets. (the answers are below).

This is what I can see in front of me now. We __________ (to have) our weekly team meeting where we __________ (to discuss) a series of agenda items from update reports on ongoing projects to agreeing who any new work __________ (to be) allocated to. The meeting usually __________ (to last) two hours. If you look at the bottom right of the picture you can see my colleague Dan, who __________ (to wear) a grey t-shirt and __________ (to hold up) his left hand. He __________ (to chair) the meeting today, but normally our manager Julie __________ (to chair) the meeting. Julie _____ actually __________ (to take) annual leave today so can’t attend.


Because we __________ (to be) an international organisation we __________ (to have) colleagues who __________ (to work) all around the world. Today, our colleagues in the American office __________ (to join) us via Zoom. The two offices __________ (to work) together for the last three years on a project and in today’s meeting __________ (to discuss) the latest sales figures.


The person talking now __________ (to be) called Katharina. I think that she __________ (to come) from Germany because she __________ (to speak) English with a slight German accent. She __________ (to work) for the company for around two years now and _____ temporarily __________ (to represent) the HR department in this meeting while the HR manager __________ (to be) on maternity leave.


Our company __________ (to do) remarkably well this year. In fact, since January we __________ (to see) an almost 100% increase in sales revenue which means that for the last 5 years of trading the business __________ (to achieve) all of its sales goals.


____________


Answers


Exercise 1:

1. Our team meeting takes place every Monday.

2. I have worked for my company for 6 years. (to work).

3. I have known him since 2010. (to know)

4. We are working on a new project today. (to work).

5. We send deliveries once a week, on Tuesdays. (to send).

6. I hope this email finds you well. (to find).

7. Normally I would be able to attend a meeting at five thirty, but I am working until five pm today. (to work).

8. I am managing his workload until he returns from annual leave. (to manage).

9. We need to employ 5 more staff members. (to need).

10. The law says that employees should have regular breaks. (to say).

11. They are talking in the meeting room on the third floor at the moment. (to talk).

12. I think that would be a good idea. (to think)

13. I am calling about the advert that was posted in the newspaper. (to call).

14. I am responsible for managing 6 people in my team. (to be)

15. I am leaving the office for the next hour, could you tell anyone that calls that will call them back later. (to leave)

16. I don’t like working from home. (to not like)

17. He comes from Scotland I think. (to come)

18. He usually calls back very quickly. (to call back)

19. They are working on this project at the moment, but it’s only temporary. (towork)

20. The new regulation requires employees to work from home. (to require)

21. Our company has over 500 employees. (to have)

22. (to somebody on the phone) Sorry, I can’t hear you properly, my colleague is talking to me at the same time. (to speak).




Exercise 2:

This is what I can see in front of me now. We are having our weekly team meeting where we discuss a series of agenda items from update reports on ongoing projects to agreeing who any new work is allocated to. The meeting usually lasts two hours. If you look at the bottom right of the picture you can see my colleague Dan, who is wearing a grey t-shirt and is holding up his left hand. He is chairing the meeting today, but normally our manager Julie chairs the meeting. Julie is actually taking annual leave today so can’t attend.


Because we are an international organisation we have colleagues who work all around the world. Today, our colleagues in the American office are joining us via Zoom. The two offices have worked together for the last three years on a project and in today’s meeting are discussing the latest sales figures.


The person talking now is called Katharina. I think that she comes from Germany because she speaks English with a slight German accent. She has worked for the company for around two years now and is temporarily representing the HR department in this meeting while the HR manager is on maternity leave.


Our company is doing remarkably well this year. In fact, since January we have seen an almost 100% increase in sales revenue which means that for the last 5 years of trading the business has achieved all of its sales goals.


____________


For many people, these activities where you need to think and apply the rules can be relatively easy, and the difficulty is actually applying the correct tense when in the flow of speech - in that case, this really needs to be done through structured speech as a part of a lesson - if you would like to discuss having lessons with myself then just get in contact at joel.white.english@gmail.com and we can arrange a trial lesson get started.

118 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page