The Present Simple tense (or Simple Present) is one of the most used verb tenses in English. It describes general facts, states, and habits. At its core, the Present Simple is used to refer to the general state of affairs in the present. Because it is usually the first tense learned in language courses, it is the most remembered. However, bear in mind that there are other verb tenses that target more specific shades of meaning. To know more, read these sections of our review on the Present Simple in English. For other related English grammar topics, you are welcome to browse our English lessons portal.
4. Common time expressions
5. Negative statements and question types
The slogan encapsulates the basic meaning of the Present Simple, so use it when hesitating about what verb form to choose in your English writing. Remembering one short slogan can help you navigate through all the grammar rules it relates to.
Read through the table and try to understand the connection between the usages and the slogan.
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• If the activity does not occur all the time and is only happening now, you need the Present Progressive tense
Today, I am cleaning the house (but only today).
• Stative verbs (appear, realize, love, sound) are more commonly used with simple tenses rather than with progressive tenses.
Advanced Usages of the Present Simple:
As its name suggests, the Present Simple form is a simple one-word verb, composed of the base form for all persons, except for a verb agreeing with a subject in the third person singular, represented by the pronouns he, she, it (See usages 1 and 3 above). Adding the third person’s verb ending (s) where needed is one of the most basic grammar rules in English, as it is the only inflectional verb ending that remained in English grammar, which has been dramatically simplified throughout the centuries.
*Remember: V1=base form, V2=Past Simple, V3=Past Participle, Ving=Present Participle
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For verbs agreeing with subjects in the third person singular in the Present Simple, you must add the s ending to the main verb.
• Spelling Rules in the Present Simple:
• Two verbs in English have special forms in the Present Simple:
I am an engineer, my mother is a teacher, and my grandparents are retired.
My family has one car. The Smiths have 3 cars.
The Present Simple is used with time expressions (in blue) informing about when or how often things happen. Pay attention to the frequency time expressions used before the verb (pre-verbals), as opposed to those used at the end of the sentence. Notice the use of prepositions (on, in, at) with time expressions appearing at the end of the sentence.
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Note that in the third person singular, the main verb is in its base form without the s ending, which is added to the auxiliary verb do, resulting in does.
The 3 Question Types:
1. Yes/No Questions:
2. Wh Questions:
3. Wh-Subject Questions:
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• Note that in Wh subject-questions, there is no need for an auxiliary verb.
• In Wh subject-questions in the Present Simple, the verb is always in the third person singular form, with the s ending.
This has been a review about the usage and formation of the Present Simple tense in English grammar. It is highly used to refer to general facts, states and habits that are constantly true in the present. Reviewing the rules is not enough to make you use it properly. The more you pick it up in your reading, and more importantly, use it in your writing, the better you will use it.
Grammar Guide Index
Parts of Speech - General Overview
Singular and Plural Nouns
English Adjectives - Basic Terms
English Verbs (Part 1) - Basic Terms
English Verbs (Part 2) - More Terms
The Verb To Be
Negative Sentences and Question Formation
The Irregular Verbs in English (Part 1)
The Irregular Verbs in English (Part 2)
The Verb Tenses in English
Spelling Rules for the Verb Tenses
The Past Simple Tense
The Past Progressive Tense
Sentence Structure (Part 1) - Basic Clause Structure
Sentence Structure (Part 2) - Phrases
Sentence Structure (Part 3) - Clauses
Sentence Structure (Part 4) - Sentence Types