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:

Tense Form
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...

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi Jarek_O,

Yes, they are! Thank you for pointing this out. I'm not sure why, but we'll make a note to add them next time we edit the page.

We use the term 'historical present' for this and you can read about it (and see examples) here. It's quite common in certain genres, especially history but also in anecdotes and jokes ('So I go into the bar, right, and then this guy comes up to me and he says...').

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Where are the future indefinite/continious/perfect and perfect continuous tense in your grammar section?
Please reply Admin.

Hello Guru,

The author of this section, Dave Willis, preferred to describe English grammar using different terminology. According to this system, there is no future tense in English - rather, different forms such as, for example, 'be going to + infinitive', the present continuous and the modal verb 'will' + verb, are used to talk about the future.

There are several pages that explain these - here are the ones that I think will be most useful for you:

There are also a couple of pages in our Quick Grammar (where we do talk about a 'future' tense) that I'd also recommend: Future continuous & Future perfect and Future plans.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I have picked up these sentences from the examples given in this lesson(to talk about the future), can I rewrite them as follows:
1)Example: The next train leaves this evening at 1700 hrs
The next train will leave this evening at 1700 hrs.(My version)
2)Example: He's meeting Peter in town this afternoon.
He will meet Peter in town this afternoon.(My version)
3)Example: I'll come home as soon as I have finished work.
I'll come home as soon as I finish work.(My version)
4)Example: You will be tired out after you have been working all night.(I don't know but this sentence does not sound correct to me,the use of 'have been working').
You will be tired out after you will be working all night.(My version) (not quite sure about this too)
You will be tired out after you work all night.(My version)

Please advise if the 'my version' are correct. The last sentence is tough for me to understand!

Thanks and regards,
Mahua

Hello Mahua,

In 1-3, your version could be correct, though the meanings are likely to be slightly different. It really depends on the context. For example, in 1, using 'will' could imply a prediction. If you're buying a ticket in the station, however, you're more likely to hear the ticket agent use the present simple form, unless the trains are running off schedule - in which case, using 'will' would make more sense.

Sentence 4 is correct, albeit not as common as, for example, 'You'll be tired out after working all night'. Of your two versions, the second one is grammatical but the first is not.

Learning to use the different forms to talk about the future in English takes time, practice and patience. Another great resource on this topic is the Grammar - future section of the Cambridge Dictionary, which you might want to read through if you really want to sink your teeth into this topic even more.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk.

Hello sir,
what's the difference between 'He has worked there for three months now.' and 'He has been working for three months now.' I don't get how to apply the right one at the right time.

Thank you

Hello m_mary,

This is a difficult area because the choice of simple or continuous often depends on the perspective of the speaker rather than an objective rule. In other words, often both present perfect simple and continuous are correct, but emphasise different aspects of the action or state being described.

You can find a discussion of when each form is used on this page. You might also find this page on perfective aspect helpful.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir
Can I say that the present simple and the present perfect are allways following eachother!? as it have been mentioned in the first example "He works at McDonald’s. He has worked there for three months now."; I mean when I find the first verb in the present simple automatically the following verb will be in the present perfect? and the same with present continuous and the present perfect continuous?
Thank you

Hello,

Why do we use "s/es" after verbs in the first person.

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