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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.

Present tense 1
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Present tense 2
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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 …

Present tense 3
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Present tense 4
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Comments

Hello
Will it be correct as present perfect
I have reached at school one hour ago.
I have a nice car

Hi Samin,

The first sentence is the present perfect. But, the present perfect isn't usually used if you say the time (one hour ago). The past simple is usually used: I reached school one hour ago. Also, the verb reach doesn't take a preposition, so delete 'at'.

The second sentence is correct. But it's the present simple, not the present perfect (i.e. the verb have is the main verb, not an auxiliary verb).

Have a look at our Present perfect page for more explanation. I hope it helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi guys,
I want to learn 2 things. While I was reading the news, I saw the pattern which is "it helps doing something"

Then, I don't understand how can I use this pattern, but I tried to use.
For example;
He is tall. It helps being selected the school team.
1)Did I use correctly? If not could you please give me an example?
2)Must I use just pronoun "it" with this pattern? Such as Can I say "Tallness helps being selected..."

Hi Nevı,

Your example would mean that being selected for the school team helps to make the person tall, so it is not correct. What you mean is the other way round, and there are several ways to say it:

Being tall helps with being selected for the school team.

I was selected for the school team. It helps being tall!

 

In answer to your second question, if you use 'help with' then you don't need 'it'. There is a word 'tallness' but we wouldn't use it in this context. 'Being tall' (as above) or 'Height' is what we would use.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hmm, so teacher
I understand When we use the pattern"it helps doing something", we need to use least two sentences.And they must be linked.

"It" in the second sentence refers to first action and explains the consequence of first action.
For instance
-Technology is improving and it helps finding new solutions for problems.-

Am I right Teacher? If not; could you please explain why
Thank you

Hi,
I read this following passage in a column:
Hardly a lover of sweets, I do have intermittent longings for one cake that was both an object of research for a cookbook and a favorite indulgence until it disappeared from the New York scene, about twenty years ago.
doesn’t her longing happen before the disappearance, because of the word “until”? So why not use “I had had intermittent longing”?

Hello Fiona,

The writer still has longings in the present.

'Until' is related to a different state: the cake was an object of research (...) and a favourite indulgence until... In other words, it is no longer an object of research or a favourite indulgence, but the longings have not gone away.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

Firstly, are there a total of 12 tenses in the English Language?

Secondly, I would like to know if there is any difference between American English and British English when it comes to all 12 tenses in the English language? Or is it a case where generally speaking, there isn’t any difference between American English and British English when it comes to the use of the 12 English tenses?

Thirdly, apart from tenses, with regards to other major aspects (such as syntactic structure and sentence structure) of the English Language, are there any key differences between British English and American English?

Regards,
Tim

Hello Tim,

That depends on how you define 'tense'. The author of this grammar, Dave Willis, followed one tradition in which 'tense' refers to a single-word verb form, but in most English language teaching contexts, you're right in thinking that people usually refer to 12 tenses. 

We have a page that covers five of the most salient grammatical differences between British and American English. There are others, but most are minor, and really most of the differences between the two varieties are in the area of vocabulary and pronunciation more than in grammar.

Despite these differences, the two varieties (each of which is actually composed of many different varieties) are very similar and in most cases entirely mutually comprehensible. As someone who grew up in American English but now works mostly with speakers of British English, I can assure you of this from personal experience.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

So as far as grammar tenses are concerned (i.e. the 12 tenses), is it right to say that there is no difference between american and british english? That is to say all 12 tenses have the same meaning in both american and british english? For instance, from the article you quoted, it did say that american english tends to use the simple past more often than the present perfect, but that present perfect also carries the same meaning/use in american english as it does in british english. This means for example, that there isn't a case where a particular tense has a specific use in british english but not in american english and vice versa right? in short, no difference in tenses and their meanings between american and british english?

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