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Present Simple

Present Simple tense

The Present Simple tense is the most basic tense in English and uses the base form of the verb (except for the verb be). The only change from the base is the addition of s for third person singular.

How do we make the Present Simple tense?

There are two basic structures for the Present Simple:

1. Positive sentences

subject + main verb
Present Simple

2. Negative and question sentences

subject + auxiliary do + main verb
conjugated in Present Simple  
do, does base

Look at these examples with the main verb like:

  subject auxiliary verb   main verb  
+ I, you, we, they   like coffee.
He, she, it   likes coffee.
- I, you, we, they do not like coffee.
He, she, it does not like coffee.
? Do I, you, we, they   like coffee?
Does he, she, it   like coffee?

From the above table, notice the following points...

For positive sentences:

For negative and question sentences:

Emphatic do
Normally, for positive sentences we do not use the auxiliary verb do. But if we want to emphasize (stress) something, we may use it. For example, instead of saying "I like your dress", we could say "I do like your dress", just to show how much we like it. Here are some more examples:
  • I do wish you'd stop.
  • I do apologize.
  • You do look smart today.

Present Simple with main verb be

The structure of the Present Simple with the main verb be is:

subject + main verb be
conjugated in Present Simple
am, are, is

Look at these examples with the main verb be:

  subject main verb be    
+ I am   French.
You, we, they are   French.
He, she, it is   French.
- I am not old.
You, we, they are not old.
He, she, it is not old.
? Am I   late?
Are you, we, they   late?
Is he, she, it   late?

From the above table, notice the following points...

How do we use the Present Simple tense?

We use the Present Simple to talk about:

Present Simple for general time

We use the Present Simple tense when:

John drives a taxi.
past present future
It is John's job to drive a taxi. He does it every day. Past, present and future.

Look at these examples:

Present Simple for now

For stative verbs, we can use the Present Simple to talk about now. Stative verbs do not describe action. They describe state, and are verbs such as: like, sound, belong to, need, seem. We can use these verbs with the Present Simple tense to talk about about a situation at the present time, not general.

I want a coffee.
That sounds interesting.
Do you need some help?
past present future
  The situation is now.  

Present Simple for general time and now

The verb be is always special. It is a stative verb, and we use it in the Present Simple tense to talk about now situations and about general situations. Look at these examples of the verb be in the Present Simple tense - some are general and some are now:

I am not fat.
Why are you so beautiful?
Ram is tall.
past present future
The situation is general. Past, present and future.
Am I right?
Tara is not at home.
We are hungry.
past present future
  The situation is now.  
This page shows the use of the Present Simple tense to talk about now and about general time. But note that there are other uses for the Present Simple, for example in the zero conditional or to talk about the future.

Try the Present Simple Quiz