In this lesson, you will learn all the grammatical features of the Present simple tense in the English language and get familiar with its uses.
What is Present Simple Tense?
The Present simple (also called the simple present, or present indefinite) is one of the most common tenses in the English language. It is used to talk about facts, habits, fixed situations, and routines.
Present Simple: Structure
The present simple form of almost all verbs is the basic form of that verb, except the third-person singular. Look at the examples:
Present Simple Structure: Third-Person Singular
When you want to make affirmative sentences in the third-person singular, you need to add the third person 's' to the main verb. Here are some examples:
The main verb is 'drink' and the third person 's' is added to it since the subject is 'the cat.'
The main verb here is 'eat,' and since the subject is 'she,' the verb changes to 'eats.'
Present Simple with Verb 'to Be' and 'to Have'
Since 'to be' and 'to have' are irregular verbs, it takes different forms for different subjects. Take a look at the table below for the conjugation of the verb 'to be' and 'to have:'
Present Tense: Third-Person Spelling Rules
Adding the third person 's' to most regular verbs is easy; you add it to the end of the verb and that is it. However, there are some verb endings that their spelling changes when you add the 's.' Let us take a look at these endings:
- If the verb ends with the letters -ch, -ss, -sh, -x or -zz, o, we add 'es' instead of 's.'
- watch → watch
- kiss → kiss
- wash → wash
- go → go
- do → do
- If the verb ends with the a consonant and the letter 'y,' we change 'y' to 'i' and then add 'es.'
- cry → cr
- fly → fl
- study → stud
- If the verb ends with a vowel and the letter 'y,' we simply add 's.'
- play → play
- say → say
- stay → stay
Present Simple Auxiliary Verb: Do
In order to make questions or make a sentence negative in the present simple tense, we need to use an auxiliary verb: Do. In the simple present, 'do' and 'does' are auxiliary verbs, but note that they can also be the main verb. Take a look at this example:
The first 'do' is an auxiliary verb and the second one is a main verb which means conducting/performing.
Present Simple: Negation
To make negative sentences in the present simple tense, we must use the auxiliary verb 'do.' If our pronoun is first and the second person singular or plural and third-person plural, we use 'don't' and if it is third person singular, we use 'doesn't.'
If the subject of your sentence is I/you/we/they, you add do not (don't) to the subject, followed by the simple main verb, without 's.'
Jessica and Harry
If the subject of your sentence is he/she/it, you add does not (doesn't) to the subject, followed by the simple main verb, without 's.'
Present Simple: Questions
As we mentioned before, one of the functions of auxiliary verbs like do and does is making questions. To make yes/no questions, you need to start the sentence with auxiliaries do/does. The subject comes after it, followed by the main verb. Look at the examples:
They know each other. →
Carolyn remembers me. →
You can make wh- question by starting the sentence with wh-word and then using do/does. The subject comes next, followed by the main verb.
I want to eat lunch at The Ledbury. →
Present Simple: Uses
Present simple has a number of uses, such as:
- Facts That Are True
- States That Are Taking Place at This Moment
- Repeating Actions or Habits
- Sports Commentary
- Schedules and Timetables
- Summarizing Movies, Books, etc.
- Instructions and Directions
- Speech Act Verbs
- Newspaper Headlines
Facts That Are True
We use the present simple when something is generally or always true. It means you cannot change them. When we say someone is dead we cannot change this fact at all. Remember general facts can refer to scientific facts, or things that cannot be changed easily. Take a look at these examples:
We use the present simple for a situation that is temporary (something that is true in the present). It means that these situations may change in the future, but they are true at the moment. For example:
To talk about people's jobs we cannot be one hundred percent sure whether they will do it in the future or not. In this case, you use the simple present tense to talk about what they do for a living. Check out the examples:
States That Are Taking Place at This Moment
We use state verbs in English to talk about the state of being. They are all used in the present simple tense. And sometimes to talk about your emotions you can use linking verbs in the simple present tense as well. Here are the examples:
We use the simple present tense to talk about what we like and what we do not like. For example, to talk about our favorite category in anything we use the present simple tense.
Here are some verbs you use to talk about your likes and dislikes: don't like, dislike, hate, abhor, can't bear, detest, like, love, enjoy. For example:
We use the present simple with stative verbs like 'be, believe, belong, hate, hear, like, love, mean, prefer, remain, realize, seem, smell, think, understand, want, wish.' Normally, these verbs are not used in the present continuous form. For example:
Repeating Actions or Habits
'Present simple tense' is also used to talk about frequent actions in the present time. In this case, we use the following adverbs of frequency for more clarification.
You do something as a hobby because you are interested in it. But you probably know that your interests and desires change over time. So you can use the present simple tense to express your hobbies at the moment. For example:
We use the present simple for habits. Habits are a set of actions that we do at particular times during our life. We often use adverbs of frequency to express how often we do particular actions. For examples:
We can also use the present simple in sports commentary. It is used to talk about short actions that are finished as soon as they happen. Remember, these kinds of actions occur in a really short time. If they are happening in a longer length of time do not use the simple present tense. Look at the examples:
Schedules and Timetables
The 'present simple' tense is used to express timetables. In this case, We can talk about events that have a fixed time to be done. Here are the examples:
We can use the 'present simple tense' to talk about the past when we are telling a story. In this case, you have to keep in mind that the story took place in the past, but you are narrating it now.
The other day I was watching TV when suddenly Terry
Summarizing Movies, Books, etc.
Whenever you want to talk about a film or a book after reading it or watching it. You have to use the present simple tense as you use it for narrating stories.
Instructions and Directions
We use the present simple when we are giving instructions or directions. We often use ordering words, such as and, first, and then. For example:
I Promise, I Swear, I Agree (Speech Act Verbs)
We use the present simple with speech act verbs (verbs that perform the act that they describe). For example:
We often see the present simple in news headlines to report past events. For example:
Common Time Expressions
We use the present simple in the zero conditionals. As it was mentioned earlier the present simple tense is used to talk about facts that are generally true. 'Zero conditional' is also used to talk about facts that are generally true. So, we can use the present simple tense in zero conditionals.
We use the present simple to talk about the sequence of actions in the present. The sequence of events indicates which action has been done sooner or later. So if you are narrating something, use the simple present tense. For example:
When I get home, I
We also use the present simple to talk about the future after words like 'when,' 'until,' 'after,' 'before' and 'as soon as.' These are sometimes called subordinate clauses of time. So, keep in mind that the 'simple present tense' is used in subordinate time clauses to talk about the future. For example:
I'll talk to John when I
I won't go out until it
We can use the present simple tense to give instruction or ask for it. This structure mostly starts with the pronoun 'you.' For example:
Parents usually use the present simple tense a lot to give orders.
We use the present simple tense in the first conditional.'First conditional' is used to talk about future events that are about to happen if something else happens. The if-clause mostly contains a simple present verb and is used in the simple present tense. Here are the examples:
They will marry if his grandmother
To Be + To-infinitive
We use this structure to refer to a future event which is actually in the simple present tense. Sometimes this structure can even be used to give orders. Check out the examples for more clarification.
There are two different types of simple verbs; 'regular' and 'irregular.' Let us take a look at the conjugation of both.
Here are irregular verbs:
|I||am||am not/ ___|
|You, We, They||are||are not/ aren't|
|He, She, It||is||is not/ isn't|
Check out the regular verbs on the table below:
|I, You, We, They||eat||do not eat/ don't eat|
|He, She, It||
Let us learn the general use of the present simple tense:
- General facts
- Repeated actions
- Sequence of actions
- Actions that are happening now
- Future plans
- Zero conditionals
- Past events
- Frequent actions
- What is Present Simple Tense?
- Instructions and Directions
- I Promise, I Swear, I Agree (Speech Act Verbs)
- Newspaper Headlines