present tense


There are two tenses in English – past and present.

The present tenses in English are used:

  • to talk about the present
  • to talk about the future
  • to talk about the past when we are telling a story in spoken English or when we are summarising a book, film, play etc.

There are four present tense forms in English:

Present simple: I work
Present continuous: I am working
Present perfect: I have worked
Present perfect continuous: I have been working

We use these forms:

  • to talk about the present:

He works at McDonald’s. He has worked there for three months now.
He is working at McDonald’s. He has been working there for three months now.
London is the capital of Britain.

  • to talk about the future:

The next train leaves this evening at 1700 hours.
I’ll phone you when I get home.
He’s meeting Peter in town this afternoon.
I’ll come home as soon as I have finished work.
You will be tired out after you have been working all night.

  • We can use the present tenses to talk about the past...



Hello meheee2008uiu,

These sentences basically mean the same thing, and can express slight differences depending on their context. Have you looked through our pages on the verb forms used in these sentences: present simple (works), present continuous (is working) and present perfect (has worked and has been working), as well as our page on talking about the present? The different meanings and uses of these verb forms are explained in detail there.

If the difference between these sentences still isn't clear after that, please let us know.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team


My name is kamruzzamn. I want to sit IELTS test next month. I am very week about academic writting. How can I improve my writing with in short time, and give me suggestion how can I improve my grade.

Hi Kamruzzamn,

It's hard for me to give you advice about improving your grade without knowing a lot more about your current level and your strengths and weaknesses.  The best thing for you to do, I think, to improve in a short time with regard to the IELTS exam is to test yourself with some practice exam papers, and then work on the areas in which you are weakest.  You can find practice papers (with answers), plus exam tips and exam information, on the British Council's Take IELTS site - go to the 'Prepare' section and look at the various pages there.

I hope that is helpful for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk.
Thank you for your suggestion,now l'll try to watch english movies and now l'm listening elementary podcast very useful,but whatever l've no practise with anybody to talkin english and relax with it.All what l want to say and enjoy it happens inside me...and when l've free time l'll enter this site.if l have any mistakes sorry..l'll try to write and to say correctly!
Best wishes!

I have been told that the following statement is incorrect...
In the past I have worked for many schools.
Can you tell me if it is incorrect and if so why?
Thanks very much

Hello Leigh,

The sentence is not incorrect.  I suspect the reason someone might think it is wrong is because of the phrase 'in the past', which might suggest a past verb form.  However, the present perfect (used in this example) is used, amongst other things, for describing actions taking place in an unfinished past time, such as all of a person's life up to the present moment.  The phrase 'in the past' in this context means 'in my life up to now', and so is the present perfect form is appropriate.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk.
Could you help me please...How many tenses in english language?Our teacher said and tought us that english has 16 tense...and some grammar books l read there 26 tense...which one is right?We have only 3 tenes in our language,and to learn english is very difficult for us,may be you can suggest some easy way to learn english...?

Best wishes!


The answer to this question depends on how you define "tense". As you can see above, some consider that there are only two tenses in English: present and past!

I'd suggest that you not worry about how many tenses there are and instead focus on mastering the use of the different verb forms in English. Just work on one or two at a time and after some time you should find that you understand them better. I'd also recommend that you not just study the verb forms in isolation, i.e. don't just memorise verb forms. To really learn them, it's essential to use them and see them in context. Probably the most enjoyable way to do this is to listen to and to read a lot of English.

The Magazine has lots of interesting articles on a variety of topics, and under Listen & Watch, you'll find lots of interesting videos and audio to listen to - many of which include transcripts for when it's difficult to understand what is being said. As you read or listen, try to understand why different verb forms are being used. If you have doubts, you can consult the Grammar Reference (i.e. pages like this one), and if you still don't understand, please ask us here in the comments.

If you can, try to have some contact with English every day. Even if you can only do it for 10 minutes, short sessions over months will more effective than long but intermitten sessions.

Good luck!

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

is it the perfect way of conveying?
"just now, I had my breakfast".
Hemanth M B

Hello Hemanth,

The verb in the sentence you mention (had) is in the simple past. The present perfect form would be I have had.

Regarding your other question below ("why this is sentence is in past tense? it's confusing..."), I'm afraid I don't know which sentence you're referring to. If you could be more specific, we'd be happy to help.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team