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 ….




This is the headline : Temperature continue soaring high in Pune

Should it not be ' temperature continues ... '

Hello dipakrgandhi,

I think there are two possibilities here: The temperature continues... or Temperatures continue...



The LearnEnglish Team

I have read this headline in Business newspaper :

Sachin Bansal readies plan sell his stake to Walmart & quit Flipkart

Should it be ' readies plan to sell ... ' . Please clear the confusion.

Hello dipakrgandhi,

We often omit certain words in headlines but the 'to' part of the infinitive here would not be omitted, I think, and the sentence looks odd to me even as a headline. I would say that 'to sell' is really required here.



The LearnEnglish Team

Brando plays an ex-boxer standing up to corrupt bosses.
--why this sentence it talk about the past

Hi Jenkin,

This sentence is about the classic film On the Waterfront, which starred Marlon Brando. Since this sentence is summarising the plot of the film, it uses the present tense.

If you didn't know that about the film, it was difficult to get the right answer here. The person who wrote this exercise thought that people would recognise Marlon Brando's name, I suppose, but not everyone is familiar with him.

Please let us know if you have any other questions.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

You did not account for many verb clusters of the English language, particularly those with the 'past tense' form of will (i.e., would). They are: would go, would be going, would have gone, would have been going. Can you therefore say that English has just 12 tenses?

Hello Ibe Ben,

It all depends on how you define the word 'tense'. When someone says English has only two tenses, they use a narrow definition of the word 'tense'. Most English teachers and students use a wider definition of the word, and in this sense, yes, usually we say there are 12.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi, I want to introduce myself. my name is muhammad hari kuswondo. I am a new member here. nice to meet you. from now, I have no comment. but. next time if I have i do it

Hello dears.
I have a question ,in the part that we want to talk about the future,in second sentences why you said"He's meeting peter in twon this afternoon"why you used present continuous??
Why you didn't use"He will........
please make it clarify for me..
Thanks in advance.