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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 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.

1} You look sad. Anything the matter? Is this question are correct sentence.
Or 2}You look sad. Anything matter? or I can  omit The in a sentence.

hi Admin,
i am very much confused regarding English grammar specially  in using tense. i don't get any confidence when i write something and its bother me a lot. do u have any suggestion how could i improve my english. is it possible that i write a paragraph or anything and you just figure out my mistakes.
sorry but whatever i have written above i am not sure whether it is grammatically correct or not.
i really need assistance.

Hello rashed1234,
Tense is often a problem for learners! It often takes people a long time to really understand it. Just do the exercises on our pages, read the information, and take your time. If you can, talk it through with a teacher or another student. Remember that reading and listening will often help your grammar without you realising - try our Elementary Podcasts for lots of examples of how to use tenses! You can also talk to other learners in the comments section, and this will give you chance to practise your writing.

Unfortunately, because of the number of comments we get, we can't offer personal corrections - sorry about that!
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Everybody,
I'm newly joined member, I want to improve my English, so can go for an international assignments. My current level is intermediate.
Anybody can guide, what steps I should follow?
With best regards,

I posted a question two weeks ago ( more or less) and nobody answered it , I wonder what is wrong ?

Thanks Adam.
I could understand both of these sentences.

Hi BC Team,
i couldn't understand the following two sentences. They are
"Brando plays an ex-boxer standing up to corrupt bosses." and
"McEwan handles the characters with his customary skill."
Can you please clarify the sentences.

If you look down the page a little, you will see a discussion of the first sentence.
Can you please tell us a bit more about what you don't understand in the second sentence? I can tell you that it is probably both from a film or book review and McEwan is the director or author.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team