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 ...
    • when we are telling a story:

      Well, it’s a lovely day and I’m just walking down the street when I see this funny guy walking towards me. Obviously he’s been drinking, because he’s moving from side to side …
       
    • when we are summarising something we have read, heard or seen:

      I love Ian Rankin’s novels. He writes about this detective called Rebus. Rebus lives in Edinburgh and he’s a brilliant detective, but he’s always getting into trouble. In one book, he gets suspended and they tell him to stop working on this case. But he takes no notice ….

      Romeo and Juliet is a violent play. After Romeo and Juliet have married in secret, Romeo is walking in Verona when Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt tries to provoke Romeo into a fight. Romeo refuses to fight and leaves, but his friend, Mercutio, is so angry that he fights Tybalt and is killed ….

Exercise

Comments

Dear Sir
Thank you for your answer for my last question: The road is wet. It has rained and it has
been raining. Your answer: both are correct
What I wanted to say was : it is not raining at the moment but the result is there.I am I correct? So in this context both are correct so we can use both tenses in some situations giving the same meaning but not always. I am I correct?
For e.g. Can we say 'I have been chopping beans for dinner./ I have chopped beans for dinner. But I think the first is better because we are talking about the activity. I am I correct Sir? But Sir nobody will change ' I have cut my finger' to continues although it is
grammatically correct because the context is very important like in the above examples.
What I want to say is: some situations we can use both these tenses but not always.
I am I correct? I understood this after going through your website but I want to tell you
what my opinion is.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Lal,

Yes, that's right -- in some cases, both forms can be correct, but in others no. The examples you give show that you have a good understanding of this, though if you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

As for your example of cutting beans, which one is better really depends on how you see the situation. If you want to emphasise, for example, that you've done the beans and so now your brother should make the rice, the simple form (which focuses more on completion) would be better. But if the result of you chopping the beans is somehow the focus (for example, if your brother asks why you're wearing an apron), then the continuous form would be the best one.

This point of English grammar is one that can take some time to get, but it looks as if you're doing very well with it!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Thank you for explaining present perfect and past tense.
Please explain this too
The ground is wet. It has rained.
The ground is wet. It has been raining.
Are both these correct or only one then which one.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

" These good deeds bring you merit, which in turn helps you go deep in meditation and elevate your consciousness."

Should it not be ' help ' in place of ' helps ' as ' these deeds ' is plural

Hi dipak,

The subject of 'helps' is the idea of good deeds bringing merit -- in other words, not the good deeds themselves, but the concept that good deeds bring merit. This idea is grammatically singular, which is why 'helps' is singular.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Very good answer sir ; thank you

Hi,
I was a watching a movie, and I found this dialogue" I tell you that I always do as an action hero in the movie." Here though the speaker of this dialogue at that time speaking to someone but he used " I tell you.." instead of " I am telling you that..". Why did he use simple present instead of continuous though his telling was in progress? Could you explain this ?I don't understand.

Hi jitu_jaga,

That doesn't seem right to me. Perhaps it would in context, but out of context it does not, so I'm afraid I can't explain it to you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I read this ' I tell you ' many many times. Is it also used as filler like ' you know '

Pages