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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Soumis par Metin le jeu 02/06/2016 - 12:15

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Hello, I am confused About "anyone here after listening to ...". Is this right? If wrong how can we make it right? Are something like these are being used in normal life language like idioms? I saw it on YouTube,the person who wrote is probably German.

Soumis par Peter M. le ven 03/06/2016 - 06:23

En réponse à par Metin

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Hello Metin,

This is a sentences fragment without any context, and without knowing the context and what follows this fragment it is not possible to say if it is correct. It may be - it is not wrong in its structure - but I cannot say more without knowing more.

Generally, we do not comment on examples of language from other sites for this reason.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

"Anyone here after listening to the 1940's German national anthem?" I thought it would be enough but looked like I have to write the full sentence.This comment is written in the page of Haydn's Masterpiece-Emporor's Hymn in YouTube. Thanks.

Hello Metin,

Comments on websites are not really a good source for correct language, I would say, and this is why we do not like to comment on random sentences from other pages.

This is not a fully correct sentence. I would guess that the writer of it wanted to say 'Has anyone come here after listening to the 1940s German national anthem?'

'After' here has a meaning similar to 'as a result of'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par reshu sinha le mer 01/06/2016 - 10:23

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Hello Sir, Would like to ask you in this question-When I have finished this job, we can celebrate. why don't we refer it present ? Thanks .

Hello reshu sinha,

You can use a present form here. Both 'When I have finished...' and 'When I finish...' have a very similar meaning in most contexts. In certain contexts there may be a difference, with '...finish...' meaning 'at the exact moment I finish' and '...have finished...' meaning 'after I finish', but this is only in certain, very unusual, contexts.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Roman 3153 le dim 08/05/2016 - 11:28

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Could you help me with a grammar problem? I found the following phrase: "He has been promising us to do it for ages" As far as I know, the verb "promise" is not common with -ing. Why can we use it with -ing here?

Hello Raman 3135,

We do not use 'promise' in contrinuous forms when a person is actually making a promise:

I promise to do it.

not

I'm promising to do it.

However, when we are talking about the action of promising - not actually making a promise - then we can use the continuous form: 

Look over there - what is he doing?

I'm not sure, it looks like he's promising never to do that again.

It really depends on the context. The example you've given is a repeated action over a period of time, and describes the action rather than actually making a promise, and so the continuous is possible.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par HomaT le mer 04/05/2016 - 09:15

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when a present continuous comes with adverb "already", what tense/time is meant? I'm confused to understand the meaning of "I am already beginning to...".

Hello again HomaT,

I just answered this same question on another page. Although we try to answer questions as soon as we can, it can take us some time – sometimes even a day or two – to answer, so please just ask your questions once!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par english.success le mer 04/05/2016 - 08:00

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Hello, Which is more appropriate to say; 1. Our school teachers teach well or Our school teachers are teaching well. 2. He forgot all his past bitter experience OR He has forgotten all his past bitter experience OR He had forgotten all his past bitter experience

Soumis par Kirk le mer 04/05/2016 - 10:26

En réponse à par english.success

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Hello english.success,

I'm afraid there's no way for us to answer thess questions, as it all really depends on what you want to say and what the context is. If you want to provide us with a bit more information, we can help you, but first you should read through the different pages here on the different tenses first to get a general sense of how they are used.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Hugong le mar 03/05/2016 - 09:13

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Hi Just wondering whether sentences below have any differences in meaning and grammar? I'm going to chat with him in just a moment. I'm going to be chatting with him in just a moment. Thanks. Regards Hugo

Soumis par Kirk le mar 03/05/2016 - 14:10

En réponse à par Hugong

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Hello Hugo,

'going to be chatting' has a similar meaning to the future continuous form 'will be chatting', which you can read about on our Future continuous and Future perfect page. Both sentences are general predictions or plans, but the second one calls attention to the event of chatting being in progress. In some contexts, this difference wouldn't really make a difference in meaning, but in others it could be significant.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par vlastazn le sam 16/04/2016 - 09:00

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Hello, could somebody please comment on this: is it more accurate to ask ''How do you feel?'' (at this moment) or ''How are you feeling?'' Thank you!

Soumis par Peter M. le lun 18/04/2016 - 06:15

En réponse à par vlastazn

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Hello vlastazn,

Both of these are very common, I would say, and you can choose whichever you prefer. I wouldn't say either is more common.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Tom le sam 30/04/2016 - 19:49

En réponse à par vlastazn

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I think you should use " How are you" when you greet people. And use " How do you feel" or " How are you feeling" when you would like to ask some one have been sick or in accident situation.

Soumis par Fan08 le mar 29/03/2016 - 18:53

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Hello, Is the following sentence correct English? "I don't have a favourite singer, but at the moment I'm listening a lot to Madonna". Thank you.

Soumis par Kirk le mer 30/03/2016 - 07:43

En réponse à par Fan08

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Hello Fan08,

Yes, though the word order at the end is a bit unnatural; I'd suggest 'I'm listening to Madonna a lot' instead. Also, 'at the moment' usually refers to a more specific period of time, i.e. right now, whereas here is seems you means something like 'these days'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ali2121 le jeu 24/03/2016 - 14:48

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I don't understand this question "Are we going out this evening?" this question is in present not future

Hello ali2121,

The form of the verb here is present continuous. However, the meaning refers to future time. In English the form of the verb is not always the same as its meaning. We can use present forms to talk about the future, past forms to talk about the present or future (such as in conditional forms) and so on.

The names 'present tense' and 'past tense' are actually quite misleading. I prefer to call them 'first form' and 'second form' as they are not used only to describe time.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par VarunKumar le mer 16/03/2016 - 07:48

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Sir, I have a little doubt in this below sentence The sun rises in the east. why rises is used instead of rise? and Is this belongs to simple present or present continuous?

Hello VarunKumar,

That is the present simple tense. Since 'the sun' is a singular noun in the third person, the 's' is added at the end – see our present simple page for a more complete explanation.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

The sun is in third person. The sun can be changed to "It", so when a noun is in third person(He,she,It) we need to add "S" to the verb. And this sentence is in simple present I think, because the sun always rises in the east.

Soumis par Better Life le mer 09/03/2016 - 09:55

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Hello. I have a question about present tense. According to this page, present tense is used to talk about the past. Can you explain this part in detail? How about past tense? what is differentce between past tense and present tense which is used to talk about the past. Thank you :)

Hello Better Life,

Sometimes people use the present tense, especially the present simple and present continuous, to tell a story about an event that happened in the past. There is no difference in meaning between using the present or past tenses to tell a story in this way. People typically use the present tense in this way to try to make the story more vivid, as if it were happening now.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ahrkrak le sam 05/03/2016 - 07:21

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So my friends asked me a question and I think the answer is "all forms could be correct" but I'm struggling to explain why. What do you think? Which of the following is correct? a) "I think what we do as art historians is predict the past" b) "I think what we do as art historians is to predict the past" c) "I think what we do as art historians is predicting the past".

Hello ahrkrak,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'why'. The difference here is that each example has a different form: an infinitive without 'to', an infinitive with 'to' and a gerund. All of these can be used this kind of sentence.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Quinate le sam 27/02/2016 - 01:18

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What tense is this "the television has been on since morning"?

Soumis par Lamastry le lun 25/01/2016 - 21:33

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hello i do believe you had a fantastic holiday May you please help me know which sentence is correct WE ALL NEED BONUS.or WE ALL NEED BONUSES

Hello Lamastry,

If it is one person who is receiving the bonus then we would say 'a bonus'. However, as the subject is plural ('we'), I would say 'bonuses' is more likely here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Soumis par Katherine991 le lun 14/12/2015 - 20:36

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Good evening. My question is following: why here it is said that in English there are only two tenses - present and past. And what about the future?

Hello Katherine991,

A tense is a change in the base verb form which signifies time. Some languages have a future tense but in English there are only two such forms. To talk about the future we use a range of other linguistic forms, including present tenses and modal verbs. 'Will' is in fact a modal verb, just like 'should', 'must' and 'can'. It is not a tense.

This is the standard modern view of the English verb system. For example, you can find it here, with some references too.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Sunitha Kola le sam 05/12/2015 - 12:47

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Hello Sir, I am confused from the above exercise, that why the answer is Past Tense for this sentence. "Brando plays an ex-boxer standing up to corrupt bosses." When " He works at McDonalds" is Present Tense then why not the above one. Can you help me determine the answer? Sunitha

Soumis par Peter M. le dim 06/12/2015 - 19:32

En réponse à par Sunitha Kola

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Hello Sunitha,

The tense here is present simple, but the exercise asks you to identify the time. The point is that the present simple can be used to refer to the past and future as well as the present.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Surz le mer 02/12/2015 - 04:23

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Hello Sir, I'm having trouble phrasing up the sentences in Present Tense, where I'm referring to multiple actions (one is completed before the other) that have taken place within 24 hours or less (or today). 1. "My A/C is charged with x$, while I've been trying to book a ticket. The website has showed an error due to which the ticket is not booked." - here an alternative I could think of is "A/C has been charged..., while I was trying...", but reality is this has happened today, a moment back (4/5 hours), but not yesterday. 2. "They have met with an accident. A truck has hit their car and run away, while they have been driving on the highway." - here I want to let the 2nd person know that, the 3rd person has just met with an accident (but in-fact accident was 5/6 hours back) and the cause of it. Could you please let me know what the correct sentences would be in this context?

Hello Surz,

In 1, you should use the past simple for the verb 'charge' – although it occurred today, that time is definitely considered in the past. Likewise, in 2, I'd recommend using the past simple for 'meet with' and 'hit' and 'past continuous' with 'drive', for similar reasons.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Lamastry le dim 27/09/2015 - 15:08

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Hello. may you please help me distinguish these sentences: "John dies." and "John has died"

Hello Lamastry,

The present simple describes a regular or typical event, so 'John dies' does not seem a very likely sentence!

The present perfect is used to describe an event in the past which has a result in the present, so 'John has died' is a quite plausible sentence: he died in the past and the result is that he is no longer alive now.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir if someone is dead and is not buried would we say he dies or we said he has died?

Hi Lamastry,

No, as Peter explained, saying that a particular person 'dies' would be very unusual. You can talk about a species, e.g. 'Mosquitos die in the winter and then hatch again in the spring', but most people only die once, not regularly or in cycles.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Ananth Krishna le lun 07/09/2015 - 02:39

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Hi, I would like to know the difference between these two sentences. Both are listed under present tense but what is the difference? 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. Please explain. Thanks, Ananth Krishna.