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...



In the example given "He works at McDonald’s. He has worked there for three months now", why has a "now" been placed at the end?

Hi ankita2219,

now is often used when a period of time that continues to the present time is indicated. It is not strictly necessary, i.e. the sentence without now would also be correct, but it is often used. If you look up now in our dictionary (on the lower right) and choose the entry for (AT PRESENT), you can see another example of it in use in the third meaning listed there.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

In above game the answers of these questions are past but how?

1 and 2 are examples of present simple i think?

1. McEwan handles the characters with his customary skill.(Answer is past).
2. Brando plays an ex-boxer standing up to corrupt bosses(Answer is past).

Thanks in advance

Hi maria soomro,

Yes, "handles" and "plays" are both present simple forms, but they refer to the past. As is explained near the top of this page, we use the present simple "to talk about the past when we are telling a story in spoken English or when we are summarising a book, film, play etc."

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi.... i have some doubts for present tense. can you tell me, how to use present perfect?

Hi mayury,

Have you seen our present perfect and perfective aspect pages?

We're happy to answer questions, but please ask more specific ones - pages such as the ones I suggest above already explain what you're asking about.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

i have some doubt about this lesson. I have been learnt future tense also as English tense which we use to tell something about future. But there is not mentioned about future tense. Why does not future tense get as a tense??? Thanks

Hi Wagisha,

The modern understanding of English is that there are only two tenses in the sense of forms of the verb which show time: past and present (sometimes described as past and non-past).  To talk about the future we use a range of other devices including lexical phrases, modal verbs such as will, other tenses such as the present continuous and so on.  The form which is sometimes described as the future tense is 'will + verb', but this is not, in fact, a tense but rather a modal verb ('will'), similar to other modal verbs such as 'should', 'can' and 'might', all of which can be used with future meaning.

I hope that clarifies it for you.  Remember that this is really a question of terminology and, as such, is not really key to being able to use the language effectively.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk hope you are well, can I first say what a fantastic website, extremely useful and well designed. I have one question

The children have done their homework. Is present simple isn't it?
Hope you can help
thanks once again

Hello native-speaker,

No, have done in this sentence is a present perfect form - see our present perfect page for an explanation of how this form is used.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team