You are here

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


Why question number 5 is past tense and not present?
Thank you

Hello Criss,
Number 5 is present tense (like all the sentences), but that's not what the task is asking about. The task is asking what time the sentences refer to. In English, time and tense are not the same.
Question 5 is talking about an actor's performance in the past.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

am new here much  thanks to BC

i don't understand the difference between these two sentences:
He has worked there for three months now.
He has been working there for three months now.
please explain.
thank you

Hi, Adam & Jeremy,
We have no explain or examples about (present tenses to talk about the past)

Hello Seham!

That's because we don't use the present tenses to talk about the past - only the present and some kinds of future.


Jeremy Bee

Mentioned in the lesson that the present tenses in English are used:
* to talk about the past when we are telling a story in spoken English or when we are summarising a book, film, play etc.
And we can use the present continuous to talk about the past:
* When we are summarising the story from a book, film or play, etc

Hello Seham Fadl!
I see what you mean - my mistake! We do use the present tense in these cases, although the form does not change. In spoken English, telling a story using present tense makes it seem more real and immediate for the listener. It's also common to use present tense to retell or discuss stories.
You can find examples of both in the exercises - see questions 3, 5 and 8.

Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Jeremy,
It's not your mistake, It's my mistake, because I could not explain what I mean.
Thank you very much for your help. You (The Learn English Team) are the best ever.