Level: intermediate

There are two tenses in English: past and present.

The present tense is used to talk about the present and to talk about the future.

There are four present tense forms:

Present simple I work
Present continuous I am working
Present perfect I have worked
Present perfect continuous I have been working

We can use all these forms:

  • to talk about the present:

London is the capital of Britain.
He works at McDonald’s.
He is working at McDonald's.
He has worked there for three months now.
He has been working there for three months now.

  • to talk about the future:

The next train leaves this evening at 17.00.
I'll phone you when I get home.
He is 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.

Present tense 1
Present tense 2

Level: advanced

We can use present forms 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 …

Present tense 3
Present tense 4
Intermediate level


"McEwan handles the characters with his customary skill."

How would I know that sentence above talks about past and not present? It seems to mee to be present!!
Notice that there is no enough context!!

Hello Yasser Azizi,

Usually the context will make it clear. In this case, the writer assumes you're familiar with the novelist Ian McEwan, but you're right, there's no context for this. Though in this sentence, the ideas of someone 'handling characters' (which suggests we're talking about fiction) and 'customary skill' (which suggests an established writer or director is being talked about) suggest that this comes from a critic's review of a novel or film.

This is a fairly specialised use of the present simple that you probably won't see used that often unless you read a lot of film or book reviews. Sorry for the confusion!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
We have not written the exams
She has not eaten anything
What type of tense are they?

Hello Daniel,

These are present perfect forms -- for more information, please see our present perfect page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir
please, can you tell me why did we say in the test ( you look sad, anything the matter?)
why did we say anything the matter and what's the matter or anything that matters?

thank you for helping us

Hello yasminesaleh,

'Anything the matter?' is an informal way of saying 'Is anything the matter?' You could also say 'What's the matter?', which is the most basic question, but if you say this it implies the other person doesn't look well. If you think the other person might not like that you think they don't look well, you can ask 'Is anything the matter?' instead.

'anything the matter' is a fixed expression when used in this way, so you can't say 'anything that matters' in this context.

I hope this helps clarify it for you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

I have read this :

There are also limits imposed on the number of transactions (financial or non-financial) that a customer is entitled to. If the customer breaches the limit, bank is liable to charge him.

My question :

What is this ' Bank is liable to charge him.' What is this liability on the part of bank here. Should it be : Bank is entitled to charge ... or customer is liable for a penalty.
Since bank would be beneficiary here by charging the customer, can we say then that it is liable for ... and since it is customer who would be at the risk of paying the penalty ,should we not say customers are liable for .

And are the comas before 'can' and 'should' in the ' since' sentence above are right , or should there be no comas.

please guide.

Hello dipak,

Please look up 'liable' in the dictionary -- the second meaning ('likely') is the one used here.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I have a question concerning a sentence in the quiz above.
" McEwan handles the character with his customary skill. " I do not think that this sentence indicates the past, I believe that it indicates the present. could you explain why does it refer to the past time?

Hello Nourhan 22,

We often use present tenses when reviewing films, books and plays, both to comment on them and to talk about the plot. This is an example of that.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team