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

Could you help me with a grammar problem?

I found the following phrase: "He has been promising us to do it for ages" As far as I know, the verb "promise" is not common with -ing. Why can we use it with -ing here?

Hello Raman 3135,

We do not use 'promise' in contrinuous forms when a person is actually making a promise:

I promise to do it.

not

I'm promising to do it.

However, when we are talking about the action of promising - not actually making a promise - then we can use the continuous form: 

Look over there - what is he doing?

I'm not sure, it looks like he's promising never to do that again.

It really depends on the context. The example you've given is a repeated action over a period of time, and describes the action rather than actually making a promise, and so the continuous is possible.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

when a present continuous comes with adverb "already", what tense/time is meant? I'm confused to understand the meaning of "I am already beginning to...".

Hello again HomaT,

I just answered this same question on another page. Although we try to answer questions as soon as we can, it can take us some time – sometimes even a day or two – to answer, so please just ask your questions once!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Which is more appropriate to say;
1. Our school teachers teach well or Our school teachers are teaching well.
2. He forgot all his past bitter experience OR He has forgotten all his past bitter experience OR He had forgotten all his past bitter experience

Hello english.success,

I'm afraid there's no way for us to answer thess questions, as it all really depends on what you want to say and what the context is. If you want to provide us with a bit more information, we can help you, but first you should read through the different pages here on the different tenses first to get a general sense of how they are used.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi

Just wondering whether sentences below have any differences in meaning and grammar?

I'm going to chat with him in just a moment.
I'm going to be chatting with him in just a moment.

Thanks.

Regards
Hugo

more confused with this examples! :(

Hello Hugo,

'going to be chatting' has a similar meaning to the future continuous form 'will be chatting', which you can read about on our Future continuous and Future perfect page. Both sentences are general predictions or plans, but the second one calls attention to the event of chatting being in progress. In some contexts, this difference wouldn't really make a difference in meaning, but in others it could be significant.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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