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.

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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 …

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Average
Average: 4 (108 votes)
Profile picture for user benleng

Submitted by benleng on Wed, 07/03/2018 - 14:32

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mas kuswondo on Sat, 17/02/2018 - 08:18

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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
Profile picture for user Ali boroki

Submitted by Ali boroki on Sat, 03/02/2018 - 12:50

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SahilK on Tue, 23/01/2018 - 05:31

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Hello, 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
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 23/01/2018 - 07:01

In reply to by SahilK

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SahilK on Sun, 21/01/2018 - 12:32

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Hello, 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.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sun, 21/01/2018 - 13:57

In reply to by SahilK

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Hello SahilK,

1) As far as I know, there is no good reason for this -- I'm afraid it's just the way these words are used. There are many, many patterns like this in English, and you just have to learn them.

2) You could also use the form you wrote, though it's true that the first one is probably more common.

3) Yes, they are -- good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SahilK on Wed, 17/01/2018 - 06:54

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Hello, Sir, I was watching a video where this guy said, "There is only three ways to start a speech". I mean shouldn't there be "are" in place of "is". Like " There are three ways...". Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 17/01/2018 - 10:20

In reply to by SahilK

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Hello SahilK,

The correct form here is 'are' and not 'is'. I can't comment on the video you watched, of course, but people often make little mistakes when speaking, even in their own native language.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Felix W on Fri, 12/01/2018 - 18:47

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Hello, I have a question about this example sentence "I’ll come home as soon as I have finished work." What is the difference between this sentence and " I’ll come home as soon as I finish work." Are they both grammatically correct? Please let me know. Thank you, Felix
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 13/01/2018 - 06:16

In reply to by Felix W

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Hello Felix,

In this context there is no difference. The present perfect emphasises that the earlier action is complete before the second action. Sometimes there is a potential difference in meaning. For example:

  1. I'll leave when I see Paul.
  2. I'll leave when I have seen Paul.

The first sentence could mean that I want to avoid Paul and will leave as soon as I spot him, or it could mean that I want to talk to Paul and will only leave once we have spoken. The second sentence means that I will leave after meeting Paul - I want to see (meet) him before I leave.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SahilK on Tue, 02/01/2018 - 13:47

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Hello, Sir I have got these sentences. "I learnt all the concepts and so did my friend" and "I did learn all the concepts and so did my friend". My question is whether first or second or both are right?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 03/01/2018 - 08:50

In reply to by SahilK

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Hello SahilK,

The first sentence is correct. We use 'so did' (or 'so does', 'so will' etc) to avoid repeating the verb in both halves:

I learnt all the concepts and so did my friend is much more elegant than I learnt all the concepts and my friend learnt all the concepts.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team