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...




I don't understand this question "Are we going out this evening?" this question is in present not future

Hello ali2121,

The form of the verb here is present continuous. However, the meaning refers to future time. In English the form of the verb is not always the same as its meaning. We can use present forms to talk about the future, past forms to talk about the present or future (such as in conditional forms) and so on.

The names 'present tense' and 'past tense' are actually quite misleading. I prefer to call them 'first form' and 'second form' as they are not used only to describe time.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I have a little doubt in this below sentence
The sun rises in the east.
why rises is used instead of rise? and Is this belongs to simple present or present continuous?

The sun is in third person. The sun can be changed to "It", so when a noun is in third person(He,she,It) we need to add "S" to the verb.
And this sentence is in simple present I think, because the sun always rises in the east.

Hello VarunKumar,

That is the present simple tense. Since 'the sun' is a singular noun in the third person, the 's' is added at the end – see our present simple page for a more complete explanation.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. I have a question about present tense.
According to this page, present tense is used to talk about the past.
Can you explain this part in detail?
How about past tense? what is differentce between past tense and present tense which is used to talk about the past.

Thank you :)

Hello Better Life,

Sometimes people use the present tense, especially the present simple and present continuous, to tell a story about an event that happened in the past. There is no difference in meaning between using the present or past tenses to tell a story in this way. People typically use the present tense in this way to try to make the story more vivid, as if it were happening now.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

So my friends asked me a question and I think the answer is "all forms could be correct" but I'm struggling to explain why. What do you think?
Which of the following is correct?
a) "I think what we do as art historians is predict the past"
b) "I think what we do as art historians is to predict the past"
c) "I think what we do as art historians is predicting the past".

Hello ahrkrak,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'why'. The difference here is that each example has a different form: an infinitive without 'to', an infinitive with 'to' and a gerund. All of these can be used this kind of sentence.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team