Presence vs. Presents

Presence vs. Presents

You use presents when you're referring to gifts, like all of those meticulously wrapped pairs of tube socks your mother leaves under the tree for you each Christmas.

Presents can also be used as a present tense indicative third-person verb that means gives someone something or shows oneself.

You use presence when you're talking about the state of being present or the way that someone carries him- or herself, as in Of course Shanice got the lead in the school play! She has incredible stage presence.

Examples

"As they walked through the abandoned hospital, Craig and Meryl could feel a ghostly presence following them."

Worst. First date. Ever. Since it sure sounds like Craig and Meryl aren't alone, and someone, or something, else is present in the run-down hospital, presence is the right word for this spooky sentence.

"On the first day of class, Ms. Larue presents each of her new students with a monogrammed fountain pen."

It's an elegant gift, sure, but not entirely practical given that Ms. Larue teaches gym. In this example, presents is a verb that means to give.

"Rikesh shakes all of his presents before he opens them so he can guess what's inside."

We bet his parents are regretting that glass puppy they got him for his birthday. Here, presents refers to gifts.