"Present Simple" Tense in English Grammar

Present Simple

All the power is in the present moment. In this lesson, you will learn all there is about the present simple tense.

Beginner
"Present Simple" Tense in English Grammar

What is Present Simple Tense?

Present simple is one of the most common tenses in the English language, so it is very important to understand it well. The present simple structure of verbs is quite easy. But, there are some exceptions.

Present Simple: Structure

Regular Verbs

The present simple form of almost all verbs is the basic form of that verb, except the third-person singular. Look at the example:

I need a new laptop.

We want ice cream for dessert.

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 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.'

She eats dinner at 9 P.M.

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

Irregular Verbs

Present Simple with Verb 'To Be'

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:'

Personal Pronoun Verb To Be Verb To Have
I am have
He/She/It is has
We/You/They are have

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

We have a very big pool in our house.

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 → 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 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:

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 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.'

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 early.

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. → Do they know each other?

Carolyn remembers me. → Does Carolyn remember 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. → Where do you want to eat lunch?

Present Simple: Uses

Using Present Simple to Talk about a Frequent Action

Present simple has a number of uses, such as:

General Facts (Permanent Truth)

Scientific Facts

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:

Water freezes at zero degrees.

The Earth revolves around the Sun.

To Talk about Frequent Actions

'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. Here are some of these adverbs.

  • Always
  • Usually
  • Often
  • Hardly
  • Sometimes
  • Never

Here are some examples of using adverbs of frequency to refer to frequent actions in the present:

I usually drink tea at 5 pm.

Maria is always late for the art class.

She never sleeps at 10.

Zero Conditionals

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.

If you heat water to 100 degrees, it boils.

If he wins, they won't forget him.

Temporary Situations

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:

She works in a bank.

She only eats fish.

Jobs

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:

Alex works at the post office.

Marcus works in a bank.

Likes and Dislikes

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:

I can't bear cheese.

I love playing the piano.

State of Being

We use linking 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:

He feels terrible about the date.

I am happy to see you honey.

Hobbies

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:

I swim in the pool whenever I am bored.

She cooks different types of soups on Mondays.

What You Believe

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:

I understand English.

She believes in the afterlife.

Habits

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:

I play tennis every Tuesday.

She never plays football.

Sequence of Actions

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:

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.

Sports Commentary

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:

He shoots and he scores!

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

Future Plans

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:

The exam starts at 10:00 a.m.

The bus leaves at 8:05 this morning.

Subordinate Clauses

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 see him.

I won't go out until it stops raining.

Giving and Asking for Instructions

We can use the present simple tense to give instruction or ask for it. This structure mostly starts with the pronoun 'you.' For example:

You clean your room now!

Parents usually use the present simple tense a lot to give orders.

Do I go to the left? or what?

First Conditional

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:

If it rains, we will cancel our date.

They will marry if his grandmother comes back to the city.

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.

You are to wash the dishes tonight!

He is to date a blond girl on Valentine's day.

Past Events

Narrating Past Events

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 calls me and tells me he needs money.

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.

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

Review

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:

Positive Negative
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:

Positive Negative
I, You, We, They eat do not eat/ don't eat
He, She, It eats does not eat/ doesn't eat

Let us learn the general use of the present simple tense:

  1. General facts
  2. Repeated actions
  3. Sequence of actions
  4. Actions that are happening now
  5. Future plans
  6. Zero conditionals
  7. Past events
  8. Frequent actions

Comments

You might also like

Tenses

Verbs have different characteristics that help make us clear while talking. Indicating the tenses is one of the characteristics that is related to time.

Past Simple

Past simple tense is one of the most exciting and important tenses in English. We often use it to talk about what happened before.

Future Simple

The best way to predict the future is to create it. In this lesson, you will learn to talk about the future in English using 'will.'

Present Continuous

The present continuous tense is a basic tense. It is usually one of the first tenses you start to learn when you first start studying English.

Past Continuous

The past continuous tense is used quite often in English, so let’s understand exactly when to use it and how to use it. Are you ready? Let's begin.

Future Continuous

The future continuous tense is used by native English speakers quite often and this is your chance to learn and understand this tense so you can start using it.