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Simple Present Tense

We use the simple present tense:

  • to show a fact or something that is always true.
Examples: The heart pumps blood through the body. A dentist treats people's teeth.
  He does not speak a word of English. Dogs bark.
  Some birds sleep by day and hunt by night.

  • for daily routines or something done regularly or habitually.
Examples: I never work on weekends. We brush our teeth in the morning.
  He smokes two packets of cigarettes a day. She goes to church on Sundays.

  • for an action that is planned to happen in the future.
Examples: The train for Birmingham departs at seven o'clock.
  The meeting begins in an hour's time.
  The new supermarket opens next week.
  The match starts in exactly ten minutes.

  • to express thoughts, feelings and states.
Examples: It matters a great deal to him to win the championship.
  They feel a lot of loyalty to the company.
  Jill doubts the truth of his statement.
  She deeply regrets saying those nasty things about him

 

  • for timetable, schedule, plan, and programmes.
Examples: The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  The first flight for London leaves at 6.30 a.m.
  There is a television programme at six o'clock about cooking.
  The weekly meeting is held in the conference room on Monday at 2.00 p.m.

 

  • for sports commentaries, reviews (book, film, play, etc.) and narration.
Examples: John passes the ball to Johnny. But Johnny misses it.
  She plays her role marvellously.
  The witch suddenly appears out of nowhere and whacks him with the broom.

 

  • in newspaper headlines.
Examples: PRESIDENT DUNNO RESIGNS.
  POLICE DISCOVER MORE DEAD BODIES.

 

  • for instructions, directions.
Examples: Mix the flour and water together, then add sugar.
  Go straight on and when you come to the first traffic lights, turn left.

 

  • in "I declare, I promise, I assure, etc.
Examples:

I declare this pet show open.

I promise you, I won't do anything stupid.

  I assure you everything will be all right.

 

  • with the following time expressions: all the time, at night/the weekend, every day/week/month/year, in the morning/afternoon/evening, on Mondays/Tuesday, etc., once/twice a day/week, etc.
Examples: He picks his nose all the time.
  Tom often goes to the library in the evening.
  My father never works at weekends.
  The flight to Timbuktu goes twice a week..

 

To make the simple present tense, we combine the subject, which is a personal pronoun (e.g. She), noun (e.g. uncle) or a proper noun or name (e.g. Mary), with the main verb.

 

In the simple present tense, if the main verb comes after the third person singular (he, she, it, John, the boy, her sister, his cat, the car, etc.), we end the verb with s or es.

Example: Mary goes to the gymnasium every weekend.
Examples: His office shuts at five o'clock. She drinks coffee in the morning.
Examples: My uncle smokes a pipe. He sleeps late on Sundays.

 

Where the subject is in plural form (I, you, they, the boys, his sisters, their cats, the cars, etc.), no change is made to the verb following the subject.

Examples: We go to the gymnasium every weekend. They drink coffee for breakfast.
Examples: Our parents do not smoke. You drink plenty of water.

 

To make simple present tense negative statements, we place the verb do not/does not between the subject and the main verb (= Subject + do not/does not + verb). Do not is used with plural subject which is first person (I, we), second person (you), and third person plural (they). We use does not with singular subject which is the third person singular (he, she, it). No 's' or 'es' is added to the verb in simple present tense negative statements.

Examples: I/We/You/They don't talk a lot. He/She does not talk a lot.
  (NOT: They do not/don't talks a lot. / He does not/doesn't talks a lot.)
Note: you is the same in singular and plural.

 

To make simple present tense questions, we put the verb Do for the first person, second person, and third person plural (I, you, we, they), or Does for the third person singular (he, she, it) before the subject (= Do/Does + subject + verb) No 's' or 'es' is added to the verb in simple present tense negative questions.

Examples: Do you believe in God? Does she like apple pie?
  (NOT: Do you believes in God? / Does she likes apple pie?)
Examples: Does he always sing in the shower? What do they like to drink?

 

Emphatic response with 'do/does'
Do/does may be used to give emphasis to a response, especially in reply to an unwelcome remark. It is put between the subject and the main verb. As an example:

Example: "You don't pay much attention to them." "I do pay much attention to them."
Example: "She doesn't take an interest in learning." "She does take an interest in learning."
Past tense: "Why didn't you tell me? "I did tell you."

 

In short answers, we do not repeat the main verb used in the questions.
Example: Do you like panda bear? Yes, I do. Or – No, I don't. (NOT: No, i do/don't like panda bear.)
Example: Does he/she like panda bear? Yes, he/she does.

 

am, is, are
The words am, is, are are verbs, but not action words. They are the simple present tense of the verb to be.
Am, is, and are are not contracted when they are used in affirmative short answers.
CORRECT: Yes, I am. / Yes, he is. / Yes, they are.
INCORRECT: Yes, I'm / Yes, he's / Yes, they're.
We use contractions only for negative short answers.
CORRECT: No, she isn't. / No, we aren't.

 

The simple present tense and adverbs of frequency
We often use the simple present tense with adverbs of frequency to make clear how often an action takes place. Adverbs of frequency include the following: always, frequently, generally, normally, never, often, rarely, regularly, seldom, sometimes, and usually.
An adverb of frequency:

  • is placed before the main verb, but after the verb 'to be' (am, is, are) and modal verbs (can, must, etc.)

Example: She always forgets my name. (before the main verb forgets)
Example: The rainbow is rarely seen in this part of the country. (after 'is')
Example: He is so strong he can really lift a cow. (after 'can')
Example: They must never forget the danger they are in. (after 'must')

 

  • is used to begin a sentence.

Example: Normally, I arrive at the office before seven o'clock.

 

  • is used before or after 'not', isn't, aren't, doesn't, don't, etc.

Example: Some clowns sometimes aren't funny.

 

  • is usually placed after 'not'.

Example: The whale is not generally regarded as a fish.

 

  • comes immediately after the subject.

Example: I seldom read magazines.

 

Non-action verbs

As the followings verbs refer to states or conditions and not actions, they are used only in simple present tense:

agree assume be believe belong consider contain cost depend dislike doubt envy exist fear find forget hate hear hold hope imagine know like love matter mean measure mind need notice own possess prefer recognize regret remember seem smell sound suppose taste understand want weigh wish

Examples:
My sister dislikes cockroach. (NOT: My sister is disliking cockroach.)
His dog wants a bone. (NOT: His dog is wanting a bone.)
Her aunt owns a little house. (NOT: Her aunt is owning a little house.)
The pizza tastes sour. (NOT: The pizza is tasting sour.)
Everyone knows he has got a foul temper. (NOT: Everyone is knowing he has got a foul temper.)

 

More examples:
Simple present tense
The manager feels he has made the right decision. (have an opinion - NOT: is feeling)
The office has a new fax machine. (own/have possession - NOT: is having)
She sees a great future for herself in music. (have an imagination - NOT: is seeing)
I think it is a lousy idea. (have an opinion/belief - NOT: am thinking)

 

The simple present tense and the present continuous tense

  • We do not use the simple present tense for actions taking place now.

INCORRECT: He eats his lunch
CORRECT: He is eating his lunch

 

  • We have to decide if the action is habitual or happening now.

Simple Present: He usually drinks coffee. (habitual)
Present continuous: This morning he is drinking tea. (happening only now)

 

  • We use simple present tense, not present continuous tense, to express states and feelings.

Example: I believe in ghosts. (NOT: I am believing in ghosts.)
Example: I remember the rainbow has seven colours. (NOT: I am remembering the rainbow has seven colours.)

 

  • We can use always with both simple present and present continuous tenses.

Example: She always complains about the weather.
Example: She is always complaining about the weather.
Both have the same meaning.

 

  • We can use both tenses to express future events that have been planned.

Example: They arrive tomorrow.
Example: They are arriving tomorrow.
Both have the same meaning.