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...

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Why "does " is used here instead of "is"? .It doesnt envy . It doesnt boast.
But in the same sentence is used "is" . - It's not proud.

Hello NinaKonde,

'Boast' here is a verb and so the negative is formed with do/does:

I don't boast

He doesn't boast

'Proud' is an adjective and so we use the verb 'be'. The negative is formed with just 'not':

I'm not proud / I am not proud

He's not proud / He isn't proud / He is not proud

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I would like to know a definite meaning of tense and time in English language. I am studying the articles on Tense on this site and I arrive at the conclusion that, there are only 2 tenses and the future is a time expressed by these tenses. What of a statement like " I will come". I thought will, shall are verbs used in the future tenses. Another question that I would like to ask, is there subjunctive in English language? Is there anything like conditional tenses? Thanks.

Hello Desola,

Sometimes people speak of English having two tenses, and other times as many as 12. As you can imagine, the word 'tense' is used to mean different things. In the first case, it refers to single words with different forms -- in this meaning, there are only the present and past simple tenses in English. But most of the time, we refer to plenty of others, such as the future, present perfect, etc.

English does have subjunctive forms, though they are mostly identical to other indicative forms, so many people don't realise it. There are also a series of conditional structures, which you can find explained on our Conditionals 1 and 2 pages.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Kirk. Your answers were very helpful.
I would like to have a proper understanding of the subjunctive mood in English. Why is it that many English speakers don't use it? Is it removed from English? When we don't use it when we are supposed to use it, does it make English incorrect? I want to know why the subjunctive is not widely known like other moods in English and why it is not widely known in English language like in other languages like French and Spanish Languages.

Hello Desola,

You're welcome. There are probably several books written by historical linguists that have wanted to know more about this same issue, but I'm afraid going deeply into this is far beyond our role here at LearnEnglish. I'd suggest reading through the Wikipedia page I linked to earlier and then working from there if you'd like to know more about this.

English speakers do use the subjunctive, but many of them don't realise it, as of course they are just speaking the language as they learned it. English also uses the subjunctive far less than Spanish or French, so that also means that there is less need to learn about it in grammar class.

There are indeed cases where not using the subjunctive would sound wrong in English. Taking an example from the Wikipedia page, 'I insist that he leaves now' (the correct form is the subjunctive 'leave') sounds wrong, though most of my friends, for example, wouldn't know how to explain why.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! Is it correct to say "they ARE/AREN'T agree with my opinion" or is it wrong? The situation is this: my English teacher gave me a multiple choice test where I should circle the correct answer. He gave me to choose between the options "are","aren't","do" and "don't". I should complete the sentence "They ___ agree with my opinion". I chose "don't" because​ all my ex teaches taught me that way. The thing is that my teacher told me it was wrong but he never gave me his reasons. He only told me he don't agree with that rule... what's the rule? I asked him but I received no explanation. Thanks for your help!

Hello niky_02nqn,

The correct form here is 'don't'; 'aren't' is not correct. The reason is that 'agree' here is a normal verb in the present simple and the negative is formed with 'do not' (or 'does not').

You can use 'aren't' with the following phrase:

They aren't in agreement with my opinion.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

sir i want ask about sentence like Have you got plaster? i have been chopping the vegetables for dinner and i have cut my finger.
this giving me the sense of past continuous when "i have been chopping the vegetables'

Hello attiq ur rehman,

'have been chopping' is a present perfect continuous form, not a past continuous form (which would be 'was chopping'), but you've used the present perfect continuous form correctly here -- it is the best form for this situation.

By the way, you should say 'a plaster' -- 'plaster' without an article means something different that doesn't make sense here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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