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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


Brando plays an ex-boxer standing up to corrupt bosses.
--why this sentence it talk about the past

Hi Jenkin,

This sentence is about the classic film On the Waterfront, which starred Marlon Brando. Since this sentence is summarising the plot of the film, it uses the present tense.

If you didn't know that about the film, it was difficult to get the right answer here. The person who wrote this exercise thought that people would recognise Marlon Brando's name, I suppose, but not everyone is familiar with him.

Please let us know if you have any other questions.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

You did not account for many verb clusters of the English language, particularly those with the 'past tense' form of will (i.e., would). They are: would go, would be going, would have gone, would have been going. Can you therefore say that English has just 12 tenses?

Hello Ibe Ben,

It all depends on how you define the word 'tense'. When someone says English has only two tenses, they use a narrow definition of the word 'tense'. Most English teachers and students use a wider definition of the word, and in this sense, yes, usually we say there are 12.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi, I want to introduce myself. my name is muhammad hari kuswondo. I am a new member here. nice to meet you. from now, I have no comment. but. next time if I have i do it

Hello dears.
I have a question ,in the part that we want to talk about the future,in second sentences why you said"He's meeting peter in twon this afternoon"why you used present continuous??
Why you didn't use"He will........
please make it clarify for me..
Thanks in advance.

Hello Ali boroki,

The present continuous is often used to speak about arranged future plans. This means that 'he' has already spoken with Peter and they have a plan to meet at two. There is a more detailed explanation of this on our talking about the future page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I found an advertisement where it was written, "Book by 29 Jan for travel until 20 June." Why "for travel" ? Can't we write "to travel" or "for travelling" ? And if you find any mistake in the sentences typed above please let me know.

Thank you in advance

Hello SahilK,

The other forms are not incorrect, though sound a little odd since 'for travel' is a common form in the context of advertisements. Note that 'travel' is used as both a verb and noun.

I didn't see any mistakes in your sentence, but please be aware that we do not provide this kind of service.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir I have doubts in the following sentences:
1) "He prevented me to go there". Why is this sentence wrong? And why do we write it as "He prevented me from going there" and when can we know where to use "preposition + verb1" or "preposition + verb1 + ing", just like in the above sentences?

2) "Everyone knows Mr Gates". Why it's passive form written as "Mr Gates is known to everyone". Why not "Mr Gates is known by Everyone" ?

3) Are all these sentences right?
i) I sent messages.
ii) Messages are sent by me.
iii) Messages have been sent by me.