<< Back to Index

The Present Simple Tense

Spelling Tip

In the present simple 3rd person singular (he, she, it), add s, es, or ies to the base form of the verb.

  • To regular verbs just add an s – Ex: travel >travels, give > gives, play >plays
  • To verbs that end in s, ss, sh, ch, x, and o, add an es – Ex: wash > washes, mix > mixes, go >goes
  • To verbs end in y after a consonant (any letter that isn’t a vowel), change the y to i and add es. Ex: study > studies, fly > flies

Sometimes the present simple tense doesn’t seem very simple. Here we will sort it all out for you!

We use the present simple tense to express the following ideas:

  1. To state facts or general truths
  2. To express habits or customs
  3. To relate future plans (often regarding programs and timetables)
  4. To tell jokes and stories or to report sporting events in real time.

Examples of the Present Simple

  1. The sun sets in the west.
  2. We produce lasers for cosmetic surgery.
  3. They move into their new home next week.
  4. So, I go to Mr. D and say “I deserve a better mark in this class”.
  5. Jones stops in mid-court and passes the ball to Schuster.

Forming the Present Simple

Subject verb rest of sentence
I / You / We / They sleep late on Saturdays
He / She / It goes to the beach every weekend

Time Expressions in the Present Simple

The most common time expressions in the present simple are: usually, always, never, on Wednesdays, every Wednesday, twice a week, once a month, in general, every other day.

Time expressions made up of one word are placed between the subject and the verb in positive sentences and questions and between the auxiliary verb and main verb in negative sentences.

  1. I always study hard for exams.
  2. Do you usually speak to him like that?

Time expressions made up of two or more words are placed either at the beginning or the end of a sentence and usually at the end of questions.

  1. Ben goes to football practice every Tuesday.
  2. In general, I believe that all people can live in peace.
  3. you go to the supermarket every week?

Negative Sentences in the Present Simple Tense

Spelling Tip

When shortening the 3rd person (he, she, it) negative, just remove the o in not and add an apostrophe (‘) does not > doesn’t

When creating negative sentences, we usually use the auxiliary verbs don’t and doesn’t + the base form of the verb.

Note: Save the long forms (do not, and does not) for when you want to create emphasis. When speaking, put the stress on ‘not’.

Subject auxillery verb verb in base form rest of sentence
I / You / We / They don’t (do not) eat late at night
He / She / It doesn’t (does not) watch TV every day
  1. I don’t like the food they serve at that restaurant.
  2. Jim doesn’t work on Fridays.
  3. My friends don’t usually leave so early.
  4. I do not want to go with you!

Yes/No Questions in the Present Simple

Punctuation Tip

Always begin a sentence, question and wh-question with a capital letter:
He always does good work.
Do you like me?
What did they bring you?

To create a question that will be answered with a yes or no, start the question with Do or Does, then add a subject (the person or thing that does the action) followed by the base form of the verb and only then add the rest of the sentence.

Auxiliary Verb subject verb in base form rest of sentence
Do I / you / we / they drive to the city on Mondays
Does he / she / it break down often
  1. Do you surf the Internet every day?
  2. Does your boss give you positive feedback?
  3. Does Jonathan always turn off the lights?
  4. Don’t you ever clean your room?

Note: In the Present Simple tense:

  1. You may add a one-word time expression, such as ‘always’, ‘usually’, or ‘often’ between the subject and the verb.
  2. You may use a negative question with a time expression such as ‘ever’.

Wh-Questions in the Present Simple

Wh- questions are questions that require more information in their answers. Typical wh- words are what, where, when, why, who, how, how many, how much.

To create a wh-question, start with the wh-word, then add do or does, then the subject (a person or thing that does the action), followed by the base form of the verb and only then add the rest of the sentence.

Wh-Word Auxiliary Verb Subject Verb in Base Form Rest of Sentence
What do I / you / we / they want
Why does he / she / it shout at you
  1. When do you want to meet me?
  2. Why does Beth always complain so much?
  3. How much does the ticket cost?
  4. Why don’t you ever go on vacation?

Tag Questions in the Present Simple

Tag questions are those short questions that are tagged onto the end of a sentence. They are used just to make sure the person you’re talking to understood what you meant or to emphasize what you said.

They’re formed either by using a regular sentence in the present simple and adding don’t or doesn’t and a pronoun (I, you, we, they, he, she, it) and a question mark.

  1. John likes me, doesn’t he?
  2. All those girls speak French, don’t they?

You may also add a positive tag when you’re using a negative sentence.

  1. Keisha doesn’t speak Spanish, does she
  2. Those boys don’t play sports, do they?

As a rule: When the sentence is positive, the tag is negative.
When the sentence is negative, the tag is positive.

Exercises for the Present Simple

Fill in the correct form of the verb as in the examples.

  1. Mark and Sara play squash twice a week. (play)
  2. Sheila doesn’t do the family accounts. (not do) Her husband does them.
  3. Does Gillian usually meet clients so late at night? (meet)
  1. Every year his family ____________ to Europe for two weeks. (go)
  2. Tammy and Jen ______________ a Pilates class on Wednesday mornings.(take)
  3. __________ that airline __________ to Paris? (fly)
  4. The semester _____________ until the end of June. (not finish)
  5. Tony usually _________ to call his mother in the mornings. (try)
  6. _______________ for your car expenses? (Who/pay)
  7. The shops ___________ until 21:00. (not close)
  8. Gerard _________ the ball and __________ it into the net. (receive/kick)
  9. _________times a day _____ you _____ your dogs for a walk? (take)
  10. ________ he always ________ his cell phone for long distance calls? (use)

Answers:

  1. goes
  2. take
  3. Does/fly
  4. doesn’t finish
  5. tries
  6. Who pays
  7. don’t close
  8. receives/kicks
  9. How many/do/take
  10. Does/use

Examples – Present Simple

Positive

  1. The sun sets in the west.
  2. We produce lasers for cosmetic surgery.
  3. They move into their new home next week.
  4. So, I go to Mr. D and say “I deserve a better mark in this class”.
  5. Jones stops in mid-court and passes the ball to Schuster.
  6. I always study hard for exams.
  7. Do you usually speak to him like that?
  8. Ben goes to football practice every Tuesday.
  9. In general, I believe that all people can live in peace.
  10. Do you go to the supermarket every week?

Negative

  1. I don’t like the food they serve at that restaurant.
  2. Jim doesn’t work on Fridays.
  3. My friends don’t usually leave so early.
  4. I do not want to go with you!

Yes/No Questions

  1. Do you surf the Internet every day?
  2. Does your boss give you positive feedback?
  3. Does Jonathan always turn off the lights?
  4. Don’t you ever clean your room?

Wh Questions

  1. When do you want to meet me?
  2. Why does Beth always complain so much?
  3. How much does the ticket cost?
  4. Why don’t you ever go on vacation?

Tag Questions

  1. John likes me, doesn’t he?
  2. All those girls speak French, don’t they?
  3. Keisha doesn’t speak Spanish, does she?
  4. Those boys don’t play sports, do they?