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Present tense

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


Hello aavi,
After 'as soon as' we can use the present simple ('as soon as I finish') or the present perfect ('as soon as I have finished') and they have very similar meanings, to the point that I cannot think of an example in which only one could be used.
You third sentence ('You will be tired out...') is also fine, but might be more natural with just the -ing form following 'after'.  This is because we tend not to repeat the subject ('you') in successive clauses unless there is a possibility of confusion:
'You will be tired out after working all night.'
I hope that clarifies it for you.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

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

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

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'.

In English, time and tense are different. A tense is a grammatical form of a verb, where the ending changes. There are two of these, past and present. However, there are lots of different ways to talk about time, including the past, the present and the future. So, as it says higher up this page, you can use the present tense to talk about the future as well as the past.
Looking at your example, 'will play cricket' is using a modal verb to talk about what we believe will happen in the future, but it isn't the future tense.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team