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


Thank for your help.I was little comfused with these two sentences:"I work" and "I have worked" are they all in present form? The last one somehow looks like in past form.pls explain to me.

Hello Abdorawa,
Both of these are examples of present forms, but different ones.  'I work' is an example of a present simple form, while 'I have worked' is a present perfect form.  The present perfect is a form which links the past with the present, such as describing an action which began in the past and has not yet finished, or an action in the past which has a present result.  You can find more information on the present simple here, and more on the perfect perfect here.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Could any one please explain me about these examples
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.
actually i m confused about these examples, in first sentence we use present indefinite tense in its first part and present perfect in its second part. and about second example we use present continuous with present perfect continuous. my question is that, should we always use tenses in this combination like present indefinite with present perfect and present continuous with present perfect continuous or we can change the combination of tenses for example can we use present indefinite with present perfect continuous or present perfect with present continuous.
Thanks for your support 

Hi saima khan,
The combinations of tenses in the examples are typical combinations, though I suppose it is possible to combine them differently. For example, "He works at McDonald's. He has been working there for three months now" may be possible in some contexts, but it sounds a bit unusual to me.
The second combination of tenses (present continuous with present perfect continuous) is often used to speak about a temporary situation. This is also explained on our talking about the present page. The person working at McDonald's could normally work, for example, as a carpenter, but for some reason is now working temporarily at McDonald's. The continuous aspect is what communicates the idea of the situation being temporary.
I hope this helps you. Please let us know if you have any other questions, and thanks for visiting LearnEnglish!
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Kirk.
your answer helps me a lot. I have 1 more question regarding present perfect tense and past tense.We often use the present perfect tense to talk about experience from the past. We are not interested in when you did something. We only want to know if you did it. but in this example we mentioned time period
example, He has been ill for 2 days. I am very confused why we used present perfect tense here instead of past simple tense because if we know the exact time of an past action we used past simple but here we use present perfect tense so please explain me in detail why we didn't use past simple there :(
Thanks for your positive response and support

Hi again saima khan,
That's what we're here for! I'm glad to hear that this topic is a bit clearer for you now.
Have you seen our page on the present perfect? There you'll see that the present perfect can be used to communicate the idea that something began in the past but is still true in the present. In the example you give, "He has been ill for 2 days", the present perfect indicates that this boy or man got ill two days ago and is still ill now.
This same statement in the past simple ("He was ill for 2 days") indicates that he was ill for two days and that now he is better.
On the present perfect page, you might also find it useful to read Peter's recent responses to several members' questions, some of which are related to your question here.
Thanks for visiting LearnEnglish!
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks again Kirk
your answer helped me a lot my confusion is now clear :) 

i don't understand why verbs are conjugated on simple present but answers are showing past ,
Best Rgds,

Hello Emna!
Well, the exercise and the article show that even when we use the present tense form, it sometimes has a past (or future) meaning. As the article says, we can use present tense

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

3 of the questions in the exercise use the present tense to talk about the past.
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

its written here that there are only two tenses in English language while I've read everywhere else that there are three tenses i.e present, past and future and if it is so then how can one say 'I will play cricket tomorrow'.