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
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Present tense 2
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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
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Present tense 4
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Intermediate level

Comments

Hello Hemanth,

The verb in the sentence you mention (had) is in the simple past. The present perfect form would be I have had.

Regarding your other question below ("why this is sentence is in past tense? it's confusing..."), I'm afraid I don't know which sentence you're referring to. If you could be more specific, we'd be happy to help.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,
 
Thanks for the reply.
pardon me. I didn't mention the sentence. Please find the sentence below.
"McEwan handles the characters with his customary skill."
The question No 8. here the activity is saying time and tense are different. Please explain me how time and tense are different. At par to my knowledge, the sentence is simple present and that's all i know. So i am bit confused between time and tense.
To get deeper into my second question i.e., "just now, i had my breakfast". I would like to describe the scenario where i used this sentence. I finished my breakfast at 8 past 5 in the morning and if someone has asked me "did you have your breakfast" at 8 past 10 then is it better to reply "just now, I had my breakfast".
Thanks and Regards,
Hemanth M B
 

Hello Hemanth,

The sentence is question 8 is similar to question 5. Both of them speak about the artistic work of a famous person (in 5, actor Marlon Brando and in 8, novelist Ian McEwan), which is work that was completed in the past. Therefore the present tense verb in those sentences actually refers to the past.

Since English lacks an inflected verb form to refer to the future, some linguists say that English lacks a future tense. This is distinct from time, which refers refers to how we perceive reality as being divided into past, present and future. In any case, this is a rather technical issue - I wouldn't worry about it too much.

As for your question about "just now, I had my breakfast", first I just want to correct what I think might be an error in how you told time. "8 past 5" means 5:08, but I think you were referring to 5 past 8 (8:05) and 10 past 8 (8:10). In that context, you could say either "I've just had my breakfast/Just now I've had my breakfast" or "I just had my breakfast/Just now I had my breakfast". The first two sentences are more typical in British English, whereas the second ones are more typical of American English.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Mr Kirk,

you explained all these sentences on brakfast. As I see all reffer to past.
"I have just had my breakfast." means I did it a couple minutes ago.

But how can we say that we ate our breakfast right now (this moment) in that context?

Hi swxswx,

To talk about something at the moment of speaking we use the present continuous:

I'm eating my breakfast.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
why this is sentence is in past tense? it's confusing...

Hi 
It says on the top of the page that there are two tenses. Shouldn't it says three tenses.
Thanks a lot before.

Hi Lajwanti,

According to many linguists, tense refers to the different inflectional forms of a verb that can independently refer to different times. In this sense, verbs have only two tenses in English, though of course in combination with other words (e.g. will, be going to, have, etc.), English verbs can refer to many more different times. Sometimes these other times are also referred to as tenses, but in the strictest sense I first mentioned above, there are only two tenses in English.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Greetings to all,
                       My name is Sumeet. I have a query regarding the formation of Negative Interrogative (Interro-negative) sentence.
Have you not picked the parcel yet?
Haven't you picked the parcel yet? (Negative Contracted)
Are both of these correct? Thank you so much in advance. 
 
 

Hi Sumeet,

Yes, the negation in both of those sentences is correct. The sentences sound a little strange to me, however, as pick in this context could only really mean choose. Perhaps you mean pick up (which here would mean collect)?

If that's what you meant, it doesn't change the negation of the verb in any way. Pick up is a separable phrasal verb, so up could go either immediately after picked or after parcel.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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