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 ….




Hello yasminesaleh,

'Anything the matter?' is an informal way of saying 'Is anything the matter?' You could also say 'What's the matter?', which is the most basic question, but if you say this it implies the other person doesn't look well. If you think the other person might not like that you think they don't look well, you can ask 'Is anything the matter?' instead.

'anything the matter' is a fixed expression when used in this way, so you can't say 'anything that matters' in this context.

I hope this helps clarify it for you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

I have read this :

There are also limits imposed on the number of transactions (financial or non-financial) that a customer is entitled to. If the customer breaches the limit, bank is liable to charge him.

My question :

What is this ' Bank is liable to charge him.' What is this liability on the part of bank here. Should it be : Bank is entitled to charge ... or customer is liable for a penalty.
Since bank would be beneficiary here by charging the customer, can we say then that it is liable for ... and since it is customer who would be at the risk of paying the penalty ,should we not say customers are liable for .

And are the comas before 'can' and 'should' in the ' since' sentence above are right , or should there be no comas.

please guide.

Hello dipak,

Please look up 'liable' in the dictionary -- the second meaning ('likely') is the one used here.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I have a question concerning a sentence in the quiz above.
" McEwan handles the character with his customary skill. " I do not think that this sentence indicates the past, I believe that it indicates the present. could you explain why does it refer to the past time?

Hello Nourhan 22,

We often use present tenses when reviewing films, books and plays, both to comment on them and to talk about the plot. This is an example of that.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I have read this :

I love New York ! With its bright lights, bustling traffic , gleaming skyscrapers and crazy nightlife , this city make you feel alive.

' This city make you... ' : should it not be - This city makes you ...

Hello dipak,

Yes, you are right.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Good evening Learn English Team,

I don`t now in what context to use each of the four times. I need a more detailed explanation.

What is the difference between the present simple and the present continous?

Thank you so much!

Best wishes,

Hello irina diaconescu,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'four times'. English has two tenses (past and present). We use various non-tense devices to refer to the future and we have aspects such as perfective and continuous to describe other elements of meaning such as permanent, temporary, repeated, single action and so on.

There are many uses of the present simple and continuous. Most generally, the present simple is used to describe actions or states which are generally true, while the present continuous describes temporary and ongoing actions or states.

You can read more about this, and see many examples, on this page.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, it is clear to me now.

Best wishes!