What is the simple present tense?

What is simple present tense?

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The present simple in English

In this lesson we will look at the use and conjugation of the simple present in English.

We use the simple present in English to talk about things in general, to express a scientific fact, a general truth, a permanent situation, a usual or frequent action:

  • I live in France. 
  • She comes from Argentina. 
  • The supermarket opens at 8.30 in the morning. 
  • He gets up early on monday. 
  • The sun rises in the East.
  • We study geography three times a week.

1/ Formation

We simply use the verb to which we add the ending -s in the 3rd person singular:

  • I like football and my father likes tennis.
  • I live in France but my sister lives in England.

⚠️ When the verb ends with –s, -x, -sh, -sh, -ch, or -o, we add –es at the end:

  • I go => He goes
  • I do => He does
  • I watch => He watches
  • I wash => He washes

⚠️ Be careful, when the verb ends with a consume + y, the -y must be replaced by -ies:

  • I worry => He worries
  • I try => He tries
  • I apply => He applies
  • I copy => He copies
  • I cry => He cries
  • I carry => He carries

⚠️ If the verb ends with a vowel + y, it is the same as for all other verbs. It is just necessary to add an -s in the 3rd person singular (he / she / it):

  • I buy => He buys
  • I pay => He pays
  • I say => He says
  • I play => He plays

⚠️He can or He cans? => Modal verbs do not change in the third person singular!

  • I can => He can (NOT ‘He cans’)
  • I could => He could
  • I would => He would
  • I should => He should

To make an interrogative sentence

The DO auxiliary at the beginning of the sentence should be used at the beginning of the sentence:

do I / we / you / they work ?
does he / she / it work ?

Be careful, no -s at the end of the verb in the third person singular when it is an interrogative sentence!

  • Do you come from France ? (NOT ‘Do you comes from France?’)
  • Does it rain ? (NOT ‘Does it rains ?’)

⚠️ We can also add a question word at the beginning of the question (what, why…), followed by DO and the verb WITHOUT -S TO THE THIRD PERSON OF THE SINGULAR!

  • What does it mean ? (NOT ‘What does it means ?’)
  • Where do you live?
  • What does he like?
  • When do they start?

To make a negative sentence

The auxiliary do must be used in the present simple and negative form, i. e. DO / DOES + NOT or the contracted form DON’T / DOESN’T :

I / we / you / they don’t work (= do not work).
he / she / it doesn’t work (= does not work).

  • She doesn’t speak french (= She does not speak french).
  • I don’t go to the restaurant very often.
  • I don’t like hamburgers.
  • It doesn’t snow in Thailand.
  • He does not live in Paris (= He doesn’t live in Paris).

⚠️ DO is sometimes the main verb:

  • What do you do?
  • He doesn’t do anything to help us.

2/ Utilisation

* The following verbs are often used in the simple present tense to suggest, express feelings, opinions, will, give opinions or express appearances:

I apologise / I advise / I want / I insist / I like / I love / I know / I hate / I agree / I refuse / I think / I remember / I believe / I need / I seem / I look

  • I promise I will clean my room.
  • I want to go to New York for Christmas.
  • He seems to be a nice guy.
  • I don’t believe in ghosts.
  • I apologise for what I did.
  • They hate dogs.
  • I suggest we go out for a walk.
  • My mum looks angry today.
  • Kat knows how to play the guitar.

* To express the frequency and say how often we do certain things:

  • I play football every day.
  • I start my job at 9am every morning.
  • How often do you go to the supermarket ?
  • Tom doesn’t drink beer very often.
  • Linda usually goes abroad two or three times a year.

* You can also use a frequency adverb with the simple present:

Never / Rarely / Ever / Often / Always / Sometimes / Usually / Once a week / Twice a day / Every friday / Four times a year

Be careful to place it before the verb:

  • He never goes to the restaurant. (NOT ‘He goes never to the restaurant’)
  • I often go to the cinema. (NOT ‘I go often to the cinema’)
  • Do you always eat pizzas ? 
  • sometimes play football.

Sometimes and Usually can also be put at the beginning of a sentence:

  • Sometimes I play tennis with my brother.
  • Usually, I meet my friends on saturday.


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