The terms ‘present tense’ and ‘past tense’ may be very difficult to comprehend for   students of ‘English as a Foreign Language’ as there are several formations that are clear to a ‘native English speaker’ but are quite incomprehensible to a foreign language student who has learned a ‘descriptive’   ie: teaching that has comprised of long lists of everything possible rather than a ‘prescriptive’ approach which chooses relevant expressions, phrases   that will assist them to understand an everyday, flowing   understanding of communicating in a foreign language. It can be something like trying to understand the colours of various objects around us whilst looking at them through rose-tinted glasses, therefore, the medium of observation can affect the outcome of understanding.

We are forced to select a ‘past’ or ‘present’ tense form whenever we make a verbal statement.   Michael Lewis (1986),   suggests that the past tense denotes remoteness.   He proposed the terms ‘basic’ and ‘remote’ in place of present and past.   Although past tense signifies remoteness, something that has passed, remoteness does not actually require a past tense, for example,

“My mother’s house has stone walls”  

The house is remote geographically from both of us and I am using my memory or you are using your imagination to visualise it, but, the tense ‘has (to have)’ is ‘present’.   This illustrates the relationship between the ‘form of the verb’ and ‘time’.

Broadly, verbs may refer to either of the following:
an ‘event’:
a happening thought of as a single occurrence, with a definite beginning and end, or
a ‘state’:
a state of affairs which continues over a period, and need not have a well-defined beginning and end.
The same verb can change from one category to another and the distinction is not always clear.   “Did you remember his name?” could refer to an event or a state. (Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik).

According to Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik, there are two...