What is the Simple Present Tense?
The simple present tense is the most common verb tense in English. It is used to talk about facts, habits, routines, emotions, thoughts, and things that are generally true.
Examples of When to use Simple Present
For habits or repeated, regular events
The bus comes at 7 am every morning. I go to the gym every day after work. Usually I eat pizza for dinner.
For general facts:
She is from Hungary. My watch is very expensive. I speak 5 languages.
For generally accepted truths:
It is very hot in the summer. Iceland is a very beautiful country.
Future uses for fixed plans:
Classes begin at 9 am tomorrow. My friends arrive on Wednesday next week. The movie starts in an hour.
Structure of Simple Present Tense
The subject is followed by the main verb directly:
|subject||+||main verb infinitive||+||object|
I live with my parents.
We have a cat called Sally.
My grandparents live on the country side.
However, the verb needs to be conjugated. In the English language, verbs only change in present tense 3rd person singular the following way:
Just add -s to the bare form of the verb in most cases.
- see → sees | like → likes | get → gets
Add -es to verbs ending with a vowel other than e.
- go → goes | do → does
Add -es to verbs ending with -s, -z, -ch, and x.
- match → matches | miss → misses
Important Note: Verbs ending in -y and a consonant change to -ies.
- cry → cries | fry → fries | spy → spies
However, verbs ending with a vowel and -y, keep their original form.
- pray → prays
Making the Simple Present Tense negative
In the English language, negative forms of verbs are usually formed by an auxiliary verb and ‘not’. For example: She may not go out tonight. In the Simple Present Tense, the verb ‘do’ serves as an auxiliary verb to help the formation of negative and questions. ‘Do’ here has no special meaning, it serves grammatical purposes. The negative of Simple Present is formed as follows:
Subject + do + not + main verb
My sister does not live here.
Generally, a short version of negative is used in everyday language by combing ‘do’ and ‘not’ to ‘don’t’ and ‘doesn’t. Notice that the above-mentioned conjugation in 3rd person affects the auxiliary verb ‘do’ and the -s endling disappeared from the end of the verb.
I don’t like to study for exams.
She doesn’t work here anymore.
We don’t want to go to the beach today.
Yes/No questions in Present Simple
In the English language, questions are usually formed by switching the (first) auxiliary verb and the subject. For example:
She can speak English. → Can she speak English?
However, there is no auxiliary verb in Simple Present Tense, therefore, the verb ‘do’ is used as an auxiliary verb when questions are formed. ‘Do’ is conjugated according to the above discussed way in 3rd person singular, as well, when it is used as an auxiliary verb. For example:
I like fast cars. → Do you like fast cars?
They usually have coffee and toast. → Do they usually have coffee for breakfast?
My friend doesn’t like meat. → Does he like meat?
Open-ended questions in Presen Simple
In case you want to use a question word, simply start your sentence with it followed by the correct form of ‘do’, the subject, main verb and the object. Basically, you don’t need to change the word order when you use a question word.
What kind of cars do you like?
When do they usually have breakfast?
Why don’t you like meat?
Typical adverbs of Simple Present Tense
Adverbs of frequency are often used with the simple present tense: Always, regularly, usually, rarely, sometimes, seldom, often, frequently, generally, habitually, never.
I always lose my keys.
I regularly leave my keys in my car.
Usually my keys are in my pocket.
I rarely take my keys out of my pocket during the day.
Sometimes I leave my keys in my car.
I seldom lose anything.
How often do you lose your keys?
I frequently leave my keys at the office.
Generally, I am very organized.
I never lose anything.