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 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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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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