There are two tenses in English – past and present.

The present tenses in English are used:

  • to talk about the present
  • to talk about the future
  • to talk about the past when we are telling a story in spoken English or when we are summarising a book, film, play etc.


There are four present tense forms in English:

Tense Form
Present simple: I work
Present continuous: I am working
Present perfect: I have worked
Present perfect continuous: I have been working


We use these forms:

  • to talk about the present:

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.
London is the capital of Britain.

  • to talk about the future:

The next train leaves this evening at 1700 hours.
I’ll phone you when I get home.
He’s 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.

  • We can use the present tenses 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 ….

      Romeo and Juliet is a violent play. After Romeo and Juliet have married in secret, Romeo is walking in Verona when Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt tries to provoke Romeo into a fight. Romeo refuses to fight and leaves, but his friend, Mercutio, is so angry that he fights Tybalt and is killed ….

Exercise

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Comments

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

Thank you so much for the prompt reply.

Sir,

Can we use Present tenses for revealing a "plans" under "future use" category.

If not, give me which tense need to be used for comprehending the plan,

Thanks & Regards,
Abdul Haq.

Hello Abdul Haq.,

As is explained on our talking about the future and Future plans pages, we normally use 'be going to' + verb or the present continuous to speak about plans and arrangements.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir

My child wrote " I take a break in the afternoon" and " I take a break in the park" when taking the test in the school. However, his teacher asks him to write " I will take a break in the afternoon" and " I took a break in the park".
I realized that my child would like to express his habits and repeated actions in his daily life. Could you please let me know why his sentences were corrected by his teacher?

Thank you!

Hello Annchou35,

Grammatically speaking, those sentences are perfectly fine. However, whether or not they were correct when used by your child depends upon the context in which they were used. If the context (or the instruction in the test) required a reference to a particular action in the future then those sentences might not be acceptable. It's not possible for me to judge that without seeing the context and/or the test instructions.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter

Thank you so much for the reply. Actually, the teacher just asked students to make a sentence with "break".

Hi Kirk, I came across this sentence in a news article:

His modus operandi to fulfill his desire to have sex was to choose a woman he liked then follow her into a toilet to ambush her for the purpose.

I don't understand the reason for using the present tense form for the word "follow" in the sentence. Shouldn't it be in the past tense?

Hi CareBears07,

The verb 'follow' is not in the present tense but is an infinitive. The form is as follows:

was to choose ...then (to) follow

The verb 'to ambush' is a different use of the infinitive. This is an example of an infinitive of purpose with the meaning 'in order to ambush'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Oh! The "to" was dropped in the sentence. Is this under textual ellipsis? I didn't realise it can be applied for "to" as normally we drop words like "that" or don't repeat words after and, but and or (coordinating clauses).
Thank you, Peter, for pointing that out. :)

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