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

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Comments

Hello Sir! How are you ? I'm a little bit confused regarding these sentences, and I can hope you will reduce my stress.The sentences are: "I have always answered his letters". and "I always answer his letters."

Hello nadarali1996,

The first sentence (have always answered) tells us about your behaviour up to now. It does not tell us what might happen in the future. In fact, you might say this to highlight a change:

I have always answered his letters but from now on I'm going to ignore them.

You can read more about this form (the present perfect) on this page.

 

The second sentence (always answer) describes your typical behaviour. It tells us that it is normal for you to answer the letters.

You can read more about this form (the present simple) on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

can anyone tell me where is the main verb in this sentence "I’m sure you could ask him"
I'm still confuse about be as an auxiliary or a main verb and whether infinitive belongs to verb or not.

Hello phia,

There are two clauses in this sentence: 'I'm sure' and '(that) you could ask him'. The main verb in the first is 'am' and the second is 'ask' -- 'could' is a modal verb.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Why "does " is used here instead of "is"? .It doesnt envy . It doesnt boast.
But in the same sentence is used "is" . - It's not proud.

Hello NinaKonde,

'Boast' here is a verb and so the negative is formed with do/does:

I don't boast

He doesn't boast

'Proud' is an adjective and so we use the verb 'be'. The negative is formed with just 'not':

I'm not proud / I am not proud

He's not proud / He isn't proud / He is not proud

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I would like to know a definite meaning of tense and time in English language. I am studying the articles on Tense on this site and I arrive at the conclusion that, there are only 2 tenses and the future is a time expressed by these tenses. What of a statement like " I will come". I thought will, shall are verbs used in the future tenses. Another question that I would like to ask, is there subjunctive in English language? Is there anything like conditional tenses? Thanks.

Hello Desola,

Sometimes people speak of English having two tenses, and other times as many as 12. As you can imagine, the word 'tense' is used to mean different things. In the first case, it refers to single words with different forms -- in this meaning, there are only the present and past simple tenses in English. But most of the time, we refer to plenty of others, such as the future, present perfect, etc.

English does have subjunctive forms, though they are mostly identical to other indicative forms, so many people don't realise it. There are also a series of conditional structures, which you can find explained on our Conditionals 1 and 2 pages.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Kirk. Your answers were very helpful.
I would like to have a proper understanding of the subjunctive mood in English. Why is it that many English speakers don't use it? Is it removed from English? When we don't use it when we are supposed to use it, does it make English incorrect? I want to know why the subjunctive is not widely known like other moods in English and why it is not widely known in English language like in other languages like French and Spanish Languages.

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