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...



hi British council team,
congrats on your super hard work and sincere efforts towards your web followers :)
can u please explain the difference btw these two sentences
1. you will be tired out after you have been working all night
2. you will be tired out after you have worked all night
P.S. check out these sentences whether grammatically right or wrong
2nd question: is that necessary that perfect continuous tenses be used with "for" n "since" or any time or period reference...that we read in our school tenses books and now things are bit changed

Hello omi20,

Thanks for your nice comment! Both of the sentences are grammatically correct, though 'You will be tired out after working all night' would be probably be more commonly said. The sentence with the continuous form emphasises the action of working at this time a bit more than the other, but there's really no difference between them in terms of meaning.

It's not absolutely necessary to use a time reference in a sentence with the present perfect continuous, though it is quite common. By the way, you might want to take a look at our Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Continuous page.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

tyvm kirk
and yes..that's quite helpful :)
i have other question too
1. take me up the mountain
2. take me up to the mountain

1.why the U.S. can't beat an army the size of a junior college
2.why the U.S. can't beat an army of the size of a junior college
I want to know whether all of these sentences are grammatically true
P.S. i once read a sentence in an authentic magazine as "she was scared the cat"
please elaborate these kinda sentences or any link in here to explain them
Are they formal kinda sentences, i mean if its right to write them as a student?:)
would be thankful for your guidance :)

Hello omi20,

I've already answered these questions on another page. Please don't post your questions more than once, and please know that it can take us several days to answer.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

apologies for that...but truly u guys are very efficient in solving learners problems..splendid work..hats off :)

well, u said chose the word order that suits u..but it's like i wanna learn this pattern :)
waiting for positive response :)

Hi omi20,

We're a very small team that gets dozens of queries every day and that has a lot of other work. We do our best to answer users' questions, but since our priority is to help people use LearnEnglish, we normally can't explain topics that are not explained here. That's why I suggested you do some searching. Even if you don't find that exact pattern, by reading about word order in general - and just by reading a lot in English - I'm sure you can learn more about this and other patterns.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

righto sir...thanx a lot
i do have a suggestion just for improving almost the full packaged site, u guys do include the word order and the sequence of tenses...though sounds simple but sometimes the examples or sentences in the quiz mess up not bcz of tenses but the reason being the order and sequence of tenses.
Anyways, u guys are really really helpful!!!
P.S. sir please answer my question below (25th nov post) whenever u have free time :) u just over looked it bcz of loads of msgs :)

sir hello again
i am having the same problem...not solved
the last question in quiz "anything the matter?"
i have read a lot of such "i was at meeting the target"
what kinda composition is that????
as per ur suggestion i did google the order of words but in vain...can't find the writing pattern of such sentences

thanx in advance