Present Simple Tense in English Grammar

Present Simple Tense in English Grammar

You do things like brushing your teeth or eating lunch everyday. If you want to talk about actions or events that you do routinely you can use present simple.

Present Simple Tense in English Grammar

Present Simple

Present Simple

Present simple is one of the most useful tenses in the English language. We need to use present simple a lot in English, so it's really important to understand it well.
Present simple structure of verbs is quite easy. But, there is an exception and that is the verb 'to be'. Let's first get to know the present simple form of this particular verb, then we'll go through the regular verbs.

Present Simple with Verb ‘To Be’

Since 'to be' is an irregular verb, it takes different forms for different subjects. Take a look at the table below for the conjugation of verb ‘to be’:

Personal Pronoun Verb ‘to be’
I Am
He/She/It Is
We/You/They Are

Verb ‘To Be’: Contraction

Contraction means making something smaller in size. ‘Am’, ‘is’ and ‘are’ have contracted forms which are informal and are used in speaking mostly. Take a look at the table below for a list of contractions:

Verb ‘To Be’ Positive (Personal pronoun + be)
Am I’m
Is He’s/She’s/It’s
Are We’re/You’re/They’re

Now take a look at these examples of verb ‘to be’ in affirmative (positive) sentences:

My husband is an accountant and I'm a teacher .

The state of being in this example applies to two subjects: my husband (he), and I. The speaker is giving information about their jobs; one is currently an accountant and the other is a teacher.

We are happy that Christmas holidays are near .

In this example, the speakers are talking about their current state and feelings, and also about the state of Christmas holidays.

Present Simple with Verb ‘To Be: Negation

The negative form of verb ‘to be’ is quite easy to make; all you have to do is add ‘not’ after the verb. Here are some examples:

Verb ‘To Be’ Negative (Personal pronoun + be + not)
Am I’m not/I am not
Is he’s not/he isn’t
Are we’re not/we aren’t

Remember

‘Am’ is the only form of verb ‘to be’ which cannot be contracted. Therefore, its only possible negative form is ‘am not.’

Now look at these examples:

Ben is not a very good employee . → Ben isn't a very good employee .

I am sure about going to university . → I am not sure about going to university .

Present Simple with Verb ‘To Be: Questions

There are two types of questions that we want to talk about: yes/no questions, and wh- questions. In order to make questions with verb ‘to be’, you basically have to scramble affirmative sentences, which means you should change the formation of the words. To make yes/no questions, use am/is/are at the beginning of the sentence before the subject.

He is a nurse . → Is he a nurse ?

They are teenagers . → Are they teenagers ?

In order to make wh- questions, you need wh- question words including what, where, when, who, how, why. These words come at the beginning of the questions followed by verb ‘to be’. These questions also ask about people or things at the present time. The answer to these questions is information and you must not answer them with yes/no.

The sandwiches are on the table . → Where are the sandwiches ?

The game is on Monday . → When is the game ?

Present Simple Form of Verbs

The present simple form of verbs is the basic form of that verb, except in third person singular.
Let us start with the most basic sentence form, affirmative sentences. Look at the examples:

I need a new laptop .

My parents have two dogs .

Present Simple: Third Person Singular

When you want to make affirmative sentences in third person singular, you need to add the third person ‘s’ to the main verb. Here are some examples:

She eats dinner at 9 PM .

The main verb here is ‘eat’, and since the subject is ‘she’, the verb changes to ‘eats’.

The cat drinks water from this bowl .

The main verb is ‘drink’ and the third person ‘s’ is added to it since the subject is ‘the cat’.

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 it is done. However, there are some verb endings whose 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 → watches kiss → kisses wash → washes go → goes do → does

  • If the verb ends with the a consonant and the letter 'y', we change 'y' to 'i' and then add 'es'.

cry → cries fly → flies study → studies

  • If the verb ends with a vowel and the letter 'y', we simply add 's'.

play → plays say → says stay → stays

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 simple present, ‘do’ and ‘does’ are auxiliary verbs, but put in mind that they can also be the main verb. Take a look at this example:

I don’t want to do my homework .

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 second person singular or plural and third person plural, we use 'don't' and if it is third person singular, we use 'doesn't'.

Subject Auxiliary verb
I/You/We/They Don’t
He/She/It 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 don’t want to get married until they can afford a house .

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’.

My sister doesn’t wake up until noon .

Present Simple: Questions

As we mentioned before, one of the functions of auxiliary verbs like do and does, is asking questions. To make yes/no questions, you need to bring do/does to the beginning of the sentence. The subject comes after it, followed by a main verb. Look at the examples:

They know each other . → Do they know each other ?

Carolyn remembers me . → Does Carolyn remember me ?

Like the other two wh- question types we talked about, this one also need wh- words (what, where, when, who, how, why). You can make wh- questions by bringing the wh- word to the beginning of the sentence and using do/does after it. The subject comes next, followed by the main verb.

I want to eat lunch at The Ledbury . → Where do you want to go for lunch ?

Present Simple: Uses

Present simple has a number of uses. You can use this tense to talk about:

General Facts

  • We use the present simple when something is generally or always true.

Water freezes at zero degrees .

The Earth revolves around the Sun .

  • We use the present simple for a situation that is permanent (something that is true in the present).

She works in a bank .

She only eats fish .

  • 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.

I understand English .

She believes in life after death .

Repeated Actions

  • We use the present simple for habits or things that we do regularly. We often use adverbs of frequency.

I play tennis every Tuesday .

She never plays football .

Sequence of Actions

  • We use the present simple to talk about sequence of actions in the present.

First I get up , then I have breakfast .

When I get home , I take a shower , then I watch some television and after that I check my emails .

Actions That Are Happening Now

  • We can also use the present simple in sports commentary. it is used to talk about short actions that they are finished as soon as they happen.

He shoots and he scores !

Here's Jackson back to throw ... and down he goes , as Gabe Wilkins gets there .

Future Plans

  • We use the present simple to express fixed arrangements, present or future.

The exam starts at 10 : 00 a . m .

The bus leaves at 8 : 05 this morning .

  • 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.

I'll talk to John when I see him .

I won't go out until it stops raining .

Zero Conditionals

If he wins , they won't forget him .

If you heat water to 100 degrees , it boils .

Past Events

  • We can use the present simple to talk about the past when we are telling a story.

The other day I was watching TV when suddenly Terry calls me and tells me he needs money .

  • to talk about the past when we are summarizing a book, film or play.

Frodo lives in the Shire . He has a best friend called Sam .

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