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



It's great that you and your students have noticed this apparent contradiction to the rule about not using 'don't' with 'be'. The case here is different, as you've noticed, because it's an imperative and not, for example, a present simple form.

There are historical reasons for the auxiliary verb 'do' not being used with 'be', but I'm afraid this is not a subject we address here at LearnEnglish. Although there are logical structures in languages and we sometimes speak of reasons in explaining grammar, in the end, languages are created through the way people speak over millenia. We focus on helping people learn how to speak English as it is used nowadays and less on explaining why, which is more in the domain of historical linguistics.

By the way, as a teacher you might be interested in our sister site TeachingEnglish. If you haven't already checked it out, you might find some useful materials there.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Kirk sir, thank you, you always help us and solve our doubts

so I say to him, 'What's your game, son?' past??
why it's not= so i said to him, 'What's your game, son?'

Hello Adham farea,

This use of present forms is described on the page:


to talk about the past when we are telling a story in spoken English or when we are summarising a book, film, play etc.


When we tell an informal story such as an anecdote or joke present forms are quite common. They make the story more immedaite and can bring it to life, making it more engaging for the listener.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Why 'is' and not 'has'?

'Most modern birds require parental care – the brush turkey of Australia (which is no relation to American turkeys) is one of the few exceptions.'

Thanks in advance.

Hello feli3105,

That sounds odd to me, too, so I'm afraid I can't explain that. 'have' or 'bear' are the verbs that are typically used in such a phrase.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi :) whats the different between

I’ll come home as soon as I have finished work. AND
You will be tired out after you have been working all night.

Hello Elsa99,

'I have finished work' is the present perfect simple and 'you have been working' is the present perfect continuous. The difference between these two forms is explained on our present perfect and present perfect simple and continuous pages.

If you have any other questions about these sentences, we're happy to help you, but please explain to us what you understand and don't understand so that we can help you better.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much! But whats the difference between "You will be tired out after you have been working all night" AND
"You will be tired out after you have worked all night."

Hello again Elsa,

In general, a continuous form views the action as something that was happening during a period of time, whereas a simple form views it as something done. Beyond that it's difficult to say without knowing the context and what the speaker meant. One other resource of ours that might help you is the video on this Word on the Street page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team