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

Comments

Hello dipakrgandhi,

We use 'the' not because it is the only railway station, but because the speaker knows which one he or she has in mind and the listener understands this. Obviously, one way in which they could know is if it is unique in the town. By contrast, we would say 'a railway station' only if it makes no difference which one the person will go to. The use of 'the' is not related to grammar forms such as singular or plural.

The best punctuation would be to use a comma rather than a semi-colon after 'to it' and to have a question mark after 'railway stations':

Can we say that railway station is a general noun and so rule of zero article would apply to it, or is it applicable for noun in plural only - like railway stations?

 

Semi-colons are used between sentences, not in the middle of sentences.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Please tell me this sentence is correct or not. This is about the subject and the verb agreement.
The graphs below shows the marks obtained by students of languages on degree courses at a British university. or Is it alright to write: The graph below shows or The
graphs below show ... I think this is the correct way to write.(subject - verb agreement)
Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards

Hello Andrew,

You are right. Both 'the graphs below show' and 'the graph below shows' are correct, but 'the graphs below shows' is not.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir
I do work
I work

same or not sir?

Hello nishan,

This depends somewhat on the context. If you're talking about your job then you would use the verb 'work':

I work as a teacher.

I work six days a week.

I work very hard.

 

We use the verb 'do' with an object when we are talking about specific tasks or responsibilities:

I do the gardening every Saturday.

I do the paperwork in the office.

He did a good job with that project.

She did the illustrations for the new campaign.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Could I use 'for' instead of 'to' in the following sentence?
We fly to Paris next week.
We fly for Paris next week.
Is this correct to say ? They flew for Paris.
I was told we use 'for' for location. and 'to' for direction
eg. Is this the train for Colombo? I am going to Colombo.
Please let me know if I am wrong
Thank you.

Hello Andrew international,

As you can see in the dictionary, 'for' has 17 different uses and one of them has the meaning of 'towards'. 'to' and 'towards' don't mean exactly the same thing in all contexts and it would take some time to explain their uses thoroughly. 

You can say 'We fly for Paris', but it would sound a bit strange to most people, who would use 'to' instead. I'd recommend you use 'to'. 'The train for X' is, however, a more common collocation so I'd not discourage you from using it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I am still confused how a present tense can talk about past and future. feeling confused.
Anyone can help me.
Thanks,

Hello sravi4701,

The present tense is sometimes used to talk about the past when we are telling jokes or anecdotes and wish to make the story seem more immediate and lively. For example, you could tell a story using past forms:

I was sitting in the park last night when an old man came up to me and said...

You could also tell the story using present forms, making it less formal and more of a performance:

So there I am, sitting in the park last night, and suddenly an old man comes up to me and he says...

It's a common feature of comedians' performances, for example. A similar use of the present can be heard when a broadcaster on the radio or TV is describing a sports event. Although they are describing actions from a few seconds ago, they use present forms:

Jones passes the ball to Smith, who runs at the defender. Smith shoots! It's a goal!

 

To see how present forms can be used to talk about the future please take a look at this page, which has many examples.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish

Hello!
I need some help: what is different between 'where did you come from?' and 'where do you come from?'

With best wishes,
WhiteCollar

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