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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Submitted by RT on Fri, 22/11/2019 - 07:12

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Hi, please advise If I am talking to someone, I believe I can say “hope you understand what I said ? But if I am referring to something I said, like a few days ago, shall I say “ hope you understood what I said ?” Thanks

Hi RT,

You could actually use either form in either situation. If you consider the understanding to be something that is current then the present is appropriate, even if the conversation happened in the past. Conversely, if you consider the understanding to be a past action then you would use the past form, even if the conversation is still ongoing (but has moved on to other topics, for example).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by RT on Sun, 10/11/2019 - 06:46

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Got some mixed up on the tenses of the following sentence: Let’s say after I received a report and wish to tell my wife what it is (was) Shall I say it is (was) a report of your property and everything is (was) in order? Thanks

Hello RT,

If you have the report and it is still current (i.e. your wife's situation has not changed), then using present tense (is) makes sense. If you no longer have the report or it is no longer current, then past tense (was) would be better.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks. Let’s say the report is current but of course I cannot be sure whether everything are still in order at present, In that case shall I say “It is an inspection report of your property and everything “was” in order (as according to the report)” Such time frame issues are what I always got mixed up, thanks

Hello RT,

Yes, that would be correct. You could add '...was fine at the time of the report' if you wished to make it explicit.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by zz11 on Mon, 30/09/2019 - 11:18

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Hi, Could you please explain why is the frogs last sentence in the present perfect?....The chicken shows the books to the frog and the frog, looking at the books one by one, shakes his head and says, 'Read it! Read it! Read it!'

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 06:52

In reply to by zz11

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Hello zz11

I'd say that 'read it!' is actually the past simple here -- the present perfect would be 'have read it!'. Part of the joke here is that 'read it' sounds very similar to 'ribbit', which is the word native English speakers often use to simulate a frog's croak (the sound a frog makes). Does that make sense?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 13:57

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Hello sir, Today I had been to a college programme and I saw a board their which read ' orientation programme for welcoming first year students" I would like to know if we can use 'welcoming' as a verb like this. I have seen dictionary entry for welcoming in canbridge dictionary and it says it is adjective. Will you help me clear the doubt ?

Hello dipakrgandhi

I understand this sign to be an abbreviated form of 'Orientation programme for (the purpose of) welcoming first year students'. In this case, 'welcoming' is an -ing form used as a noun (also known as a gerund).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Samshr on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 07:56

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Hi I have a question. I'm not sure if it's correct. How does she feel when she gets home? Is it correct? Because we have does in the second part of the question. I would appreciate if you could answer me. Thanks

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 15:28

In reply to by Samshr

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Hello Samshr

That question is grammatically correct. The main clause ('How does she feel?') has subject-verb inversion and the subordinate clause 'when she gets home' has the normal word order.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MohitUkey on Sun, 04/08/2019 - 14:08

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Sir, In the sentence, "She works in London." what does the word "works" denote ? I am confused. Does it denote, "present state" or "present habit" or "temporary present" or "temporary habit" ?

Hello MohitUkey

What that really means depends on the context (which is ungiven here), but if you had to choose one, I'd say present habit.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Imran 26 on Mon, 15/07/2019 - 19:19

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He has worked there for three months now. He has been working there for three months now. hi Sir, I am confused about both of the above sentences. please clear it to me what the difference in these sentences for situation.

Submitted by karthik_ande on Wed, 19/06/2019 - 14:33

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Which is correct and why “We should go soon. Our last bus will leave at midnight” and “We should go soon. Our last bus leaves at midnight”

Hello karthik_ande

The second one is the better one for most situations, for example, when we know the bus is scheduled to leave at that time. You can read more about the different forms we use to talk about the future on our Talking about the future page.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Mon, 20/05/2019 - 06:48

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Hello Sir I would like to know the difference between these two sentences. Please let me know. He has worked there for three months now. He has been working there for three months now. Thank you. Regards Lal
Hello Lal It really depends on the situation, but, for example, the second one could imply that it is a temporary situation, or is an important change in some way. Please see the following pages for more on this: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/present-perfect https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/continuous-aspect All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rejaul islam on Fri, 26/04/2019 - 04:30

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I shall have a broken glass. Can you please tell me which tense is this sentence? I need it..
Hello Rejaul islam 'shall' is often called a future form, but it's not really used to speak about the future in standard British English. Instead, it's mostly used to make offers or suggestions. For example, I can offer to bring you a glass by saying 'Shall I bring you a glass?' You can read more about how 'shall' is used on https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/modals-and-modality/shall . All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by chhaya on Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:12

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I have a doubt, in frog joke paragraph. Present simple tense is used to every time when librarian gives book to frog. But for the third time, present perfect is used. `So, after she's given the chicken some more books` I wanna know why?
Hello chhaya, Both the present simple and the present perfect are grammatically correct here. The present perfect emphasises that the action took place before another action (note the use of the word 'after' to show this). Here is a similar example: > After I give him the money, you can arrest him. > After I have given him the money, you can arrest him. Both sentences are correct, but the second emphasises that the first action (giving) comes before the second (arresting). ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AminulIslam. on Mon, 15/04/2019 - 14:52

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Which of the following best fits? Don't worry,English grammar is not...... to understand. a.so difficult b.too difficult c.difficult enough d.very difficult Sir would you please explain ?
Hello AminulIslam. The answers all mean something different, so it's difficult to say because I don't know what the speaker intends. But if I had to choose one answer, I suppose I'd choose a, though it's not the only possible answer. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Marua on Tue, 02/04/2019 - 08:07

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Hello. I have been searching the answer, but I'm not 100% sure whether " go in the park" is correct. I know that 'go' is a verb of movement, so I should say 'go to the park' and also "play in the park" is correct. But what about 'go in the park'? Is it acceptable? Meaning - " inside the park" not at the edge of it? I really appreciate your help. Thank u

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 02/04/2019 - 17:36

In reply to by Marua

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Hello Marua We often use the preposition 'into' to speak about entering an enclosed space, and that is what would be the most natural here: 'go into the park'. Once you are inside the park, then you could play in the park (or 'inside the park'), and before you arrive, you could go to the park. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Mon, 01/04/2019 - 09:54

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Hello Sir Please tell me which is correct. It is me. or It is I. Thank you. Regards Lal
Hello Lal There is disagreement about this: some people prefer 'me' and others insist that 'I' is better. I prefer to say 'me', but please note that plenty of other people prefer 'I'. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Tue, 08/01/2019 - 05:03

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My relative's book on engineering subject has been published . I received message from him : With god's grace, my new book has published on 1st Jan 2019. Is it correct to say ' my new book has published' ; I would say it should be in passive if we treat book as a subject , but his message is not in passive. What would you say, sir ?

Hello dipakrgandhi,

A passive form is needed:

'my new book has been published'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Xada on Fri, 07/12/2018 - 19:40

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I read in news paper that "somone breaks record". I think it should be broke record. Please Answer.

Hello Xada,

Newspapers often use non-standard forms, especially in their headlines or summaries for reasons of space. The standard form would probably be present perfect here (someone has broken a/the record), but it's hard to be sure without seeing the context in which the sentence appears.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Wed, 28/11/2018 - 09:04

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Sir, 'Invite' is also used as noun ? ' India invite Trumph made a statement ... ' Invitation is also a noun. When to use invite and when to use invitation ? Is ' invite ' used in informal usage ?

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 28/11/2018 - 11:01

In reply to by dipakrgandhi

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Hello dipakrgandhi,

'invite' is used as a noun by many native speakers in informal contexts to mean the same thing as 'invitation'. I suppose it's also possible to see it in news headlines, where there is not a lot of space. In general, I'd recommend using 'invitation' over 'invite' (as a noun).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by A. F. Jensen on Mon, 29/10/2018 - 09:18

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Are there any faults in this sentence "I live just outside town." or is it correct? I just thought it should be "...outside of town." and was wondering about it. Thanks!

Hi A. F.,

Both versions are correct, though I suppose the version with 'of' is more complete. The word 'of' is often left out here, especially in informal speaking or writing.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by seelan65 on Tue, 25/09/2018 - 07:29

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Dear Peter M Thanks for your prompt response and I clearly understood it now. Thanks

Submitted by seelan65 on Mon, 24/09/2018 - 07:50

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Hi Sir Can you please explain the sentence I came across in a letter - This letter is confirmation as to the authenticity of Mr Ravi's payslips. As confirmation is a noun it should take 'the' or the sentence should be ' this letter is confirming as to. Am I right? thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 25/09/2018 - 06:22

In reply to by seelan65

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Hi seelan65,

There are several possiblities. It is fine to use 'confirmation' without an article here as it is an uncountable noun used in a non-specific way. You could also say the following:

This letter is to confirm the authenticity...

This letter provides confirmation of the authenticity...

 

We would not say 'This letter is confirming as to...', I'm afraid.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Sun, 05/08/2018 - 07:31

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This is the headline in newspaper : No more Vijay Mallya or Nirav Modi-like fugitives! Bill that deter economic offenders to flee India gets President’s nod Should it not be deters rather than deter as bill is a singular noun. And in my above comment should there be comma before 'as' , and in this sentence should there be comma after ' And in my above comment.

Hello dipakrgandhi,

Yes, the verb should be 'deters' to agree with the singular subject.

We generally avoid commenting on examples from elsewhere like this. It's rather unfair on the original authors to comment without their having any opportunity to respond, and we also do not know the context in which the language is used.


Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Wed, 18/07/2018 - 10:09

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Hello Sir When we are talking about something regarding time we use present perfect and past perfect mostly. But can we use past continuos,too. e.g. How long were they waiting for? They were waiting for an hour. Can't we say : How long had they been waiting for? They had been waiting for an hour. How long have they been waiting for? They have been waiting for an hour. But not 'how long are they waiting for?' They are waiting for an hour. I think those are wrong. I am I correct? What I want to ask you is: can we use other tenses when we talk about time or only perfect tenses with since or for Thak you. Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

'time' is a very broad concept; I think you must mean something more specific but I'm not sure what. In any case, all of the sentences you wrote could be correct in certain contexts.

The last one ('How long are the waiting for?') is probably the most unusual one, but if you were speaking about a future arrangement, for example, it would be correct. 'for' speaks of a 'length' of time, i.e. duration, and 'since' indicates a duration from a point of time in the past towards the present.

I hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team