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 manuel24 on Mon, 16/07/2018 - 11:47

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hello,is it correct to say: "it is really matter"'? or "does it really matter"?and why?

Hi manuel24,

'Does it really matter?' is correct and is a question about how important something is, with the idea that the person asking the question doubts that whatever it is really matters. Here 'matter' is a verb in the present simple tense and so the auxiliary verb 'does' is used.

'It is really matter' is grammatically correct but means something completely different. In this case, 'matter' is a noun and the sentence is affirming that something ('it') is matter (as opposed to something pyschological perhaps? -- it's hard to know without the context). 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by manuel24 on Fri, 13/07/2018 - 10:56

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hello,why is used do+have as the example "I do have a vegetarian favourite restaurant"?is there also the use of "do +be" in the affermative form?

Hello manuel24,

We can use 'do' (or 'does') to add emphasis to a sentence. For example:

I like that film.

You're joking, aren't you?

No, I do like it, honestly.

 

We do not use this construction with 'be', however.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Fri, 06/07/2018 - 10:00

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Dear Sir Thank you for your answer for my last question: The road is wet. It has rained and it has been raining. Your answer: both are correct What I wanted to say was : it is not raining at the moment but the result is there.I am I correct? So in this context both are correct so we can use both tenses in some situations giving the same meaning but not always. I am I correct? For e.g. Can we say 'I have been chopping beans for dinner./ I have chopped beans for dinner. But I think the first is better because we are talking about the activity. I am I correct Sir? But Sir nobody will change ' I have cut my finger' to continues although it is grammatically correct because the context is very important like in the above examples. What I want to say is: some situations we can use both these tenses but not always. I am I correct? I understood this after going through your website but I want to tell you what my opinion is. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

Yes, that's right -- in some cases, both forms can be correct, but in others no. The examples you give show that you have a good understanding of this, though if you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

As for your example of cutting beans, which one is better really depends on how you see the situation. If you want to emphasise, for example, that you've done the beans and so now your brother should make the rice, the simple form (which focuses more on completion) would be better. But if the result of you chopping the beans is somehow the focus (for example, if your brother asks why you're wearing an apron), then the continuous form would be the best one.

This point of English grammar is one that can take some time to get, but it looks as if you're doing very well with it!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Thu, 05/07/2018 - 10:52

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Hello Sir Thank you for explaining present perfect and past tense. Please explain this too The ground is wet. It has rained. The ground is wet. It has been raining. Are both these correct or only one then which one. Thank you. Regards Lal

Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Sun, 01/07/2018 - 07:46

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" These good deeds bring you merit, which in turn helps you go deep in meditation and elevate your consciousness." Should it not be ' help ' in place of ' helps ' as ' these deeds ' is plural

Hi dipak,

The subject of 'helps' is the idea of good deeds bringing merit -- in other words, not the good deeds themselves, but the concept that good deeds bring merit. This idea is grammatically singular, which is why 'helps' is singular.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jitu_jaga on Fri, 29/06/2018 - 08:14

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Hi, I was a watching a movie, and I found this dialogue" I tell you that I always do as an action hero in the movie." Here though the speaker of this dialogue at that time speaking to someone but he used " I tell you.." instead of " I am telling you that..". Why did he use simple present instead of continuous though his telling was in progress? Could you explain this ?I don't understand.

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 29/06/2018 - 17:01

In reply to by jitu_jaga

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Hi jitu_jaga,

That doesn't seem right to me. Perhaps it would in context, but out of context it does not, so I'm afraid I can't explain it to you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Japan Shah on Wed, 27/06/2018 - 02:24

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Hi, In which tense should I summarise a story/news to my friend that I have read on Wall street journal, facebook or listen to TED Talks? I have the same question for writing. Thank You

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 27/06/2018 - 06:48

In reply to by Japan Shah

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Hello Japan Shah,

This rather depends on the talk's content and how you wish to relate it. You could choose to report it using reported speech (see here and here). Alternatively, you could use present forms (The talk tells us how we can...). There is no one way to do this.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by uchiha itache on Mon, 04/06/2018 - 05:33

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Hi! I always do or I am always doing ? Some teachers at my school.say that " I always do " is something planned while the other is not planned and some teachers say that " I am always doing " is somwthing which happens a lot and is negative and((annoys)) the speaker and some other say it can either be negative or positive. Who should I believe? What's the right usage?

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 04/06/2018 - 07:08

In reply to by uchiha itache

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Hello uchiha itache,

It's difficult to be entirely sure without knowing the context in which the sentence is used, but the present continuous for repeated actions often suggests some kind of irritation (if we are talking about another person) or frustration (if we are talking about ourselves). For example:

She always doing that! [this behaviour annoys me]

 

I'm always doing that! [it frustrates me that I cannot stop making this mistake]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

And if I say : We often meet a lot . We're always meeting in the supermarket The 1st sentence is planned and I get it But..is the second not planned or it annoys me or both ?

Hello uchiha itache,

The sentence We're always meeting in the supermarket describes something which happens frequently, not a future event, and so I don't think whether it is planned or not is relevant here. The sentence suggests that the speaker does not feel happy about constantly meeting in the supermarket for some reason, but that is all we can say from it.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by raj.kumar123 on Sun, 27/05/2018 - 02:17

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Hello! Could you please tell me the difference between "Thanks for acceding to our request for coming." and "Thanks a lot for having acceded to our request for coming."? Is the person for whom this sentence is meant, has already come? Could you please help me understand theses phrases in socio-cultural contexts?

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 27/05/2018 - 06:52

In reply to by raj.kumar123

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Hello raj.kumar123,

These do not look like natural sentences in English to me. You could say Thanks for acceding to our request for a meeting, for example. It is a very formal way to say this, however, and agreeing to would be much more likely.

In general, the perfect form emphasises recent completion with a concrete result. It is possible to say, for example, Thanks for having done this. However, even in this case I would say that Thanks for doing this is a far more common choice

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Tue, 08/05/2018 - 06:11

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This is the headline : Temperature continue soaring high in Pune Should it not be ' temperature continues ... '

Hello dipakrgandhi,

I think there are two possibilities here: The temperature continues... or Temperatures continue...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Tue, 08/05/2018 - 06:04

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I have read this headline in Business newspaper : Sachin Bansal readies plan sell his stake to Walmart & quit Flipkart Should it be ' readies plan to sell ... ' . Please clear the confusion.

Hello dipakrgandhi,

We often omit certain words in headlines but the 'to' part of the infinitive here would not be omitted, I think, and the sentence looks odd to me even as a headline. I would say that 'to sell' is really required here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jenkin on Fri, 30/03/2018 - 11:01

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Brando plays an ex-boxer standing up to corrupt bosses. --why this sentence it talk about the past

Hi Jenkin,

This sentence is about the classic film On the Waterfront, which starred Marlon Brando. Since this sentence is summarising the plot of the film, it uses the present tense.

If you didn't know that about the film, it was difficult to get the right answer here. The person who wrote this exercise thought that people would recognise Marlon Brando's name, I suppose, but not everyone is familiar with him.

Please let us know if you have any other questions.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ibe Ben on Wed, 07/03/2018 - 14:32

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You did not account for many verb clusters of the English language, particularly those with the 'past tense' form of will (i.e., would). They are: would go, would be going, would have gone, would have been going. Can you therefore say that English has just 12 tenses?

Hello Ibe Ben,

It all depends on how you define the word 'tense'. When someone says English has only two tenses, they use a narrow definition of the word 'tense'. Most English teachers and students use a wider definition of the word, and in this sense, yes, usually we say there are 12.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mas kuswondo on Sat, 17/02/2018 - 08:18

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hi, I want to introduce myself. my name is muhammad hari kuswondo. I am a new member here. nice to meet you. from now, I have no comment. but. next time if I have i do it

Submitted by Ali boroki on Sat, 03/02/2018 - 12:50

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Hello dears. I have a question ,in the part that we want to talk about the future,in second sentences why you said"He's meeting peter in twon this afternoon"why you used present continuous?? Why you didn't use"He will........ please make it clarify for me.. Thanks in advance.

Hello Ali boroki,

The present continuous is often used to speak about arranged future plans. This means that 'he' has already spoken with Peter and they have a plan to meet at two. There is a more detailed explanation of this on our talking about the future page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SahilK on Tue, 23/01/2018 - 05:31

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Hello, Sir, I found an advertisement where it was written, "Book by 29 Jan for travel until 20 June." Why "for travel" ? Can't we write "to travel" or "for travelling" ? And if you find any mistake in the sentences typed above please let me know. Thank you in advance

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 23/01/2018 - 07:01

In reply to by SahilK

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Hello SahilK,

The other forms are not incorrect, though sound a little odd since 'for travel' is a common form in the context of advertisements. Note that 'travel' is used as both a verb and noun.

I didn't see any mistakes in your sentence, but please be aware that we do not provide this kind of service.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SahilK on Sun, 21/01/2018 - 12:32

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Hello, Sir I have doubts in the following sentences: 1) "He prevented me to go there". Why is this sentence wrong? And why do we write it as "He prevented me from going there" and when can we know where to use "preposition + verb1" or "preposition + verb1 + ing", just like in the above sentences? 2) "Everyone knows Mr Gates". Why it's passive form written as "Mr Gates is known to everyone". Why not "Mr Gates is known by Everyone" ? 3) Are all these sentences right? i) I sent messages. ii) Messages are sent by me. iii) Messages have been sent by me.

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 21/01/2018 - 13:57

In reply to by SahilK

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Hello SahilK,

1) As far as I know, there is no good reason for this -- I'm afraid it's just the way these words are used. There are many, many patterns like this in English, and you just have to learn them.

2) You could also use the form you wrote, though it's true that the first one is probably more common.

3) Yes, they are -- good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SahilK on Wed, 17/01/2018 - 06:54

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Hello, Sir, I was watching a video where this guy said, "There is only three ways to start a speech". I mean shouldn't there be "are" in place of "is". Like " There are three ways...". Thank you in advance

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 17/01/2018 - 10:20

In reply to by SahilK

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Hello SahilK,

The correct form here is 'are' and not 'is'. I can't comment on the video you watched, of course, but people often make little mistakes when speaking, even in their own native language.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Felix W on Fri, 12/01/2018 - 18:47

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Hello, I have a question about this example sentence "I’ll come home as soon as I have finished work." What is the difference between this sentence and " I’ll come home as soon as I finish work." Are they both grammatically correct? Please let me know. Thank you, Felix

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 13/01/2018 - 06:16

In reply to by Felix W

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Hello Felix,

In this context there is no difference. The present perfect emphasises that the earlier action is complete before the second action. Sometimes there is a potential difference in meaning. For example:

  1. I'll leave when I see Paul.
  2. I'll leave when I have seen Paul.

The first sentence could mean that I want to avoid Paul and will leave as soon as I spot him, or it could mean that I want to talk to Paul and will only leave once we have spoken. The second sentence means that I will leave after meeting Paul - I want to see (meet) him before I leave.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SahilK on Tue, 02/01/2018 - 13:47

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Hello, Sir I have got these sentences. "I learnt all the concepts and so did my friend" and "I did learn all the concepts and so did my friend". My question is whether first or second or both are right?

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 03/01/2018 - 08:50

In reply to by SahilK

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Hello SahilK,

The first sentence is correct. We use 'so did' (or 'so does', 'so will' etc) to avoid repeating the verb in both halves:

I learnt all the concepts and so did my friend is much more elegant than I learnt all the concepts and my friend learnt all the concepts.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abdulhaqcivil1 on Wed, 27/12/2017 - 18:36

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Sir, Can we use Present tenses for revealing a "plans" under "future use" category. If not, give me which tense need to be used for comprehending the plan, Thanks & Regards, Abdul Haq.

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 28/12/2017 - 13:13

In reply to by abdulhaqcivil1

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Hello Abdul Haq.,

As is explained on our talking about the future and Future plans pages, we normally use 'be going to' + verb or the present continuous to speak about plans and arrangements.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Annchou35 on Fri, 22/12/2017 - 02:05

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Dear Sir My child wrote " I take a break in the afternoon" and " I take a break in the park" when taking the test in the school. However, his teacher asks him to write " I will take a break in the afternoon" and " I took a break in the park". I realized that my child would like to express his habits and repeated actions in his daily life. Could you please let me know why his sentences were corrected by his teacher? Thank you!

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 22/12/2017 - 06:13

In reply to by Annchou35

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Hello Annchou35,

Grammatically speaking, those sentences are perfectly fine. However, whether or not they were correct when used by your child depends upon the context in which they were used. If the context (or the instruction in the test) required a reference to a particular action in the future then those sentences might not be acceptable. It's not possible for me to judge that without seeing the context and/or the test instructions.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter Thank you so much for the reply. Actually, the teacher just asked students to make a sentence with "break".

Submitted by CareBears07 on Sat, 16/12/2017 - 18:00

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Hi Kirk, I came across this sentence in a news article: His modus operandi to fulfill his desire to have sex was to choose a woman he liked then follow her into a toilet to ambush her for the purpose. I don't understand the reason for using the present tense form for the word "follow" in the sentence. Shouldn't it be in the past tense?

Hi CareBears07,

The verb 'follow' is not in the present tense but is an infinitive. The form is as follows:

was to choose ...then (to) follow

The verb 'to ambush' is a different use of the infinitive. This is an example of an infinitive of purpose with the meaning 'in order to ambush'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team