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
MultipleChoice_MTYyMzQ=
Present tense 2
GapFillTyping_MTYyMzU=

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
MultipleChoice_MTYyMzY=
Present tense 4
GapFillTyping_MTYyMzk=
Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

Submitted by Roberto 2015 on Wed, 22/07/2015 - 23:41

Permalink
Is London the capital of Britain and England or only England? Thank you.

Hello Roberto 2015,

The state of which London is the capital is the United Kingdom. Within the UK is made up of several parts, which have their own capitals:

England - London

Scotland - Edinburgh

Wales - Cardiff

Northern Ireland - Belfast

'Great Britain' is a geographical term. It describes the largest island (and the small islands off its coast) of the British Isles and therefore includes England, Scotland and Wales.

'Britain' comes from the name the Romans used for the territory they conquered. It included England and Wales, but not Scotland. However, this entity has not existed for thousands of years and nowadays 'Britain' and 'Great Britain' are synonymous.

To make matters confusing, both 'Britain' and 'Great Britain' have been used in the past formally, even by the UK government, to mean 'the United Kingdom'. This is rarely the case today, however.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you. It is a confusing area! This page may help you as well.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nandishchandra on Wed, 22/07/2015 - 20:52

Permalink
Hi LearnEnglishTeam, I have a narrow gap in understanding and usage of auxiliary verb and main verb, that is , Can i use a sentence in these two ways, One way, 'I +did learn +that',and the another 'i did+...with a little time-gap.... +learn that, What makes difference here,Please help me with this... Thanks... Best Regards, Nandish..

Hi Nandishchandra,

Where you pause in this sentence is not related to the grammar structure, but to the rhythm of the whole sentence and its particular meaning. You can use pauses to emphasise parts of the sentence, for example. This is not related to the relationship between the auxiliary and main verb.

Note that you are using 'did' as an auxiliary verb in an affirmative sentence here. That is possible, but unusual. We do it when we wish to add emphasis to the sentence, such as when we think that the listener does not believe us, or when we have been contradicted.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nandishchandra on Wed, 22/07/2015 - 15:48

Permalink
Hi LearnEnglishTeam, I have a doubt on verb 'am' in this sentence. when i say, 'i am not sure about it'?, will i mean, i am + not sure or i +am not+sure? Please give a clarity to this, Thanks... Best Regards, Nandish

Hello Nandishchandra,

I'm afraid I don't understand your question at all. I do not see the different between the two options here.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by soumiiiiii on Wed, 17/06/2015 - 17:14

Permalink
Hello teacher please I have a question. In those two sentences: Sally has been working here since April. and, I haven't seen Tom since Monday. Why in the 2nd sentence we don't use the present perfect continuous ? what's the differences between the both sentences? Thank you

Hello soumiiiiii,

I'd recommend you read our Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Continuous page for an explanation of the difference between these two forms. Rob and Ashlie also discuss it a litle bit in this Word on the Street video. If those presentations don't answer your question, however, please don't hesitate to ask again.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by grammar2015 on Sat, 06/06/2015 - 12:04

Permalink
Present tense to talk about the past . No sample above " I call him to see me at the hotel. He comes with his friend to visit me. I entertain them for six hours. " Is it the way to use present tense for the past?

Hello grammar2015,

As is explained above, the present simple can be used 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 some examples of this in the Verbs - present tense exercise.

If the sentences you wrote are in the context of a story you are relating orally, then they could be correctly used. Note that you can also use the past simple in such cases.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ANAMIKA SAXENA on Mon, 01/06/2015 - 20:31

Permalink
Hello, So i say to him . What's your game son? How this sentence be use as a past tense ? Please assist me . REGARDS ANAMIKA

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 02/06/2015 - 07:45

In reply to by ANAMIKA SAXENA

Permalink

Hello Anamika,

This is an example of the use of present tenses to talk about the past when we are retelling a story, an anecdote or a joke in an informal context. The speaker is telling someone an anecdote. It would be correct to the past tense here too:

So I said to him, "What's your game, son?"

However, the present tense in anecdotes is a way to bring the story to life and make it sound more immediate and exciting.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ali.s on Wed, 29/04/2015 - 02:53

Permalink
Hi there wolud you mind to answer this question that is it true to say ((it's poisen us)) grammatically? Thanks!

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 29/04/2015 - 07:24

In reply to by ali.s

Permalink

Hi ali.s,

That is not a correct form. We can use 'poison' as a verb, but the form would be different, depending on the tense needed:

It poisoned us. [past simple]

It's [=has] poisoned us. [present perfect]

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nandishchandra on Thu, 09/04/2015 - 17:55

Permalink
Hi team learnEnglish, could you please unravel this difficulty while using have,and have got. In british english we may find usage of 'have got' more,also 'have' in some other countries. Said that,why would we need extra 'got' with 'have' when 'have' itself can stand alone? if we cannot use 'have' alone,why is that?.And what extra would 'got' adds to the meaning when settled with 'have'? regards, Nandish

Hello Nandish,

While it's true that both 'have' and 'have got' have the same meaning when used to talk about possession, 'have got' has a narrower range of uses than 'have'; for example, it cannot be used as an auxiliary verb ('I have read the Vedas' is correct but 'I have got read the Vedas' is NOT correct).

Languages are like this - they develop organically, like a tree or the bed of a river, and don't always follow the most logical or straightforward course. When you're learning a language, this can be frustrating, but actually it's one of the beautiful things about any natural language.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by adtyagrwl3 on Wed, 08/04/2015 - 14:23

Permalink
Dear Sir, Could you please tell me what the difference is between, 'I’ll come home as soon as I have finished work' and, 'I’ll come home as soon as I finish work'. Both seem correct to me.

Hello adtyagrwl3,

Both of those sentences are correct and the meaning is essentially the same.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by buguniao on Wed, 25/03/2015 - 07:46

Permalink
Hello,teachers.please do me a favor.I am a servant of a hotel. Yesterday a girl bought a towel in the front desk,but i forgot to give her receipt,I know her room's telephone number,and there are 3girls live in her room .so I want to give her a call today .Could you tell me in these two sentences below which one is correct.If both of them are correct,please tell me the different meanings between them.Thanks in advance. 1).Hello,Could I speak to the girl who bought a towel in the front desk yesterday? 2).Hello,Could I speak to the girl who has bought a towel in the front desk?

Hello buguniao,

The first sentence is correct and the second one is not. This is because we do not use the present perfect ('has bought') when we have a finished time reference ('yesterday').

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello hudsoncr,

A sentence such as 'Can I speak to the girl who has bought a towel' is possible, but is highly unlikely. If the buying took place just a moment ago then we might say this, but if the buying was yesterday (as I understood from your initial question) then we'd say 'bought' as the time period is finished.

We'd also say 'at the front desk' rather than 'in the front desk'.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by uthirapathi on Fri, 20/03/2015 - 12:57

Permalink
Hello sir, Guide me to have improved vocabularies skills. I have been studying vocabulary in dictionary for 2 years but many words often I were forget. Now time I am studying as it below Meaning,thesaurus, pronunciation, origin,visualization. Especially I have confused in thesaruss that which word should be used there. Example Angry,annoyed, irritated, antagonized, affronted, provoked, etc

Hello uthirapathi,

That's a good way to organise your information, and learning synonyms can be an effective way to increase your vocabulary. However, it's easy to forget words which you learn unless you practise them. If you look on our Help page you'll see some tips on how to remember new words:

To improve your vocabulary it's important to do three things:

  • see new and familiar words and phrases in context
  • note down new items in an organised manner
  • practise, revise and review new items systematically.

The Listen & Watch section on LearnEnglish is a great source of reading and listening materials and working through this section will help you with the first point. The more you read – magazines and newspapers, journals, short stories, novels, poems ... in fact, whatever genre or kind of writing interests you – the better, and you can find an inexhaustible supply on the internet, of course. We also recommend very strongly that you start (if you haven't already) a personal vocabulary book. Organise it by topic (sports, work, appearance, finance, etc.) and add new words and phrases to it as you listen, watch and read in English. Use it to test yourself so you can see how well you memorise the items.

I hope that is helpful to you.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Mr.peter, your suggestions are very useful to me. I have been practising through elementary podcast,which is easily unterstood by me. Thanks one again peter.

Submitted by Joao Victor Viapiana on Fri, 13/03/2015 - 21:31

Permalink
I did not quite understand why the sentences "Brando plays an ex-boxer standing up to corrupt bosses" and "McEwan handles the character with his customary skill" from the exercise above are both in the past tense, may someone help me? Actually, I could not figure it out how to talk about the past using the present tense, and the answer to my question above is within this subject, I reckon. Thanks

Hello Joao Victor Viapiana,

Usually, we use past tenses of various kinds (narrative tenses) to tell a story. However, we can use present tenses when we want to bring a story to life, particularly when it is a joke, an anecdote or a commentary of an event or a film - as in these examples.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jithesh_patel on Wed, 11/03/2015 - 08:21

Permalink
i am not understanding this statement, -> to talk about the past when we are telling a story in spoken English or when we are summarising a book, film, play etc. regarding this statement where do get examples? please give some examples...

Hello Jithesh,

If you're telling your friends about something that happened to you at work yesterday, let's say a disagreement you had with a colleague, then you could use the present tense to tell that story. For example, 'And then he tells me that I have to write the report because it isn't his job to do that. So I tell him that actually, it's as much his job as it is mine ...'.

Although you use the present tense in your story, you're clearly referring to the past. Why use the present tense? It makes the story a bit more dramatic and has better chances of involving the listeners. As for the other point, there are examples of book summaries, etc., in questions 5 and 8 of the exercise.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by raj.kumar123 on Mon, 02/03/2015 - 15:36

Permalink
Is it a correct sentence- "I am thankful to you for your suggestions to improve my paper."? Can we use 'to' after 'suggestions' in this sense?

Hello raj.kumar123,

That's not quite correct. We would say:

I am grateful to you for your suggestions on how to improve my paper.

'Thankful' is also possible, but I think 'grateful' is the more commonly used word in this context.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot, sir. Can I use 'suggestion' + 'to' and 'First Form of Verb' (Suggestion+ Infinitive, e.g. suggestion to improve)? Kindly clear this confusion. It will help other users also.

Hello raj.kumar123,

It is possible in certain contexts, but often sounds unnatural. For example, we could say:

Do you have a suggestion to improve the project?

But a much more likely construction would be:

Do you have a suggestion for improving the project?

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Saleh_kabo on Fri, 27/02/2015 - 23:40

Permalink
I am new here and i want someone choose the correct answer for me in this sentense. It is extremely important for children ........ To share things. A. Learning B. Learned C. To learn D. Be learning Thanks for help

Hello Saleh_kabo,

C is the correct answer here. Please take a look at our to + infinitive page, where there is a list of adjectives that can be followed by an infinitive.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by greyish on Tue, 24/02/2015 - 08:37

Permalink
Is this sentence correct? "The girl is putting a cookie into her father’s mouth." And also, can you use "The girl is feeding her father a cookie"...?

Submitted by nescient on Mon, 23/02/2015 - 20:07

Permalink
Your own website states... 1. We use the present simple: to talk about something happening regularly in the present: The children come home from school at about four. Yet Question 1 of this tense test - which uses exactly the same form... The flight leaves at 2:30. ...is, according to your answers, talking about the future! So which is correct? It can't be both.

Hello nescient,

On this page, not far under the chart of the four forms, you can also see: 'We use these forms to talk about the future', and then there's the example 'The next train leaves this evening at 1700 hours'. The idea is that when the next train leaves is in the future, i.e. it hasn't happened yet and is not happening now. The same is true for the time when the children come home tomorrow at four - it is also the future.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

 

Submitted by raj.kumar123 on Sat, 21/02/2015 - 12:49

Permalink
is the following sentence correct: "The novel reveals how a political discourse is donned the garb of sacredness to lure the Indian religious sensibility."? I am confused about 'is donned the garb of'. Plz help me...

Hello raj.kumar,

Here, the second use of don that you'll find in our dictionary is the correct one; garb has only one meaning as far as I know. The idea here seems to be that a political discourse has attempted to portray itself as sacred. 'is donned' doesn't make sense grammatically - perhaps it should be simply 'donned'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ghosh on Wed, 18/02/2015 - 15:53

Permalink
I have to go the flight to Singapore leaves at 2.30 .I am confused this sentence ,when I click present tense but answered incorrect ?

Hello Ghosh,

'leaves' in this sentence is in the present simple, but refers to the future. That's why the correct answer is 'Future'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rajaramzan56 on Mon, 05/01/2015 - 16:32

Permalink
Dear Sir I am going to write an email can you please correct my mistake? I would like to booking a room from in September 22nd,2015 to 5th December 2015. But I need one with 2 single beds. Since I love this area of town. I have always wanted to live here! There are lot's of shop and it is a short walk to town. Would you be able to guarantee that if I put that in the requests section when booking. ThanksFrom Wazir

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 06/01/2015 - 09:06

In reply to by Rajaramzan56

Permalink

Hello Rajaramzan56,

I'm afraid that correcting texts is a service which we can offer on LearnEnglish as we simply do not have the time to do it for all users - if we tried then we would do little else all day, and would not be able to maintain and expand the site, which is our main focus. However, I can tell you that your text is clearly written and easy to understand; I doubt the recipient will have any trouble in understanding you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by raj.kumar123 on Mon, 12/01/2015 - 10:22

In reply to by Rajaramzan56

Permalink
May I try? I would like to get a room booked between 22nd Sept. 2015 and 5th Dec. 2015. I need the room with with two single beds. Since I love this locality, I have always desired to live here. This place has a lot of shops, and it is nearby town. (Next Sentence not clear.) Please correct me if there is any error.

Submitted by hatim_a.g on Sat, 17/01/2015 - 07:01

In reply to by Rajaramzan56

Permalink
I would like to book a room from September 22nd 2015 to December 2015, one with 2 single beds. I like this area so much and always wanted to live here, because it is located in market area very closed to the downtown which is short walk to reach. Please recognize this. Thanks Wazir