1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Present Simple

Present Simple explained for beginning English learners

By

The present simple is the first English tense to learn. It's a bit confusing because the present simple is used to speak about everyday routines, rather than what is happening at the moment (present continuous). Use this present simple explanation to learn about common uses of the present simple. Pay special form to the use of the auxiliary verb 'do' in the question and negative forms. This present simple timeline also helps to explain the test. Take the present simple quiz to help test your understanding.

Read the following interview using the simple present tense

Mark: Hello, Can I ask you some questions for an interview?
Jennifer: Yes, I can answer some questions.
Mark: Thank you for taking the time. Now, first question: What do you do?
Jennifer: I work in a library. I'm a librarian.
Mark: Are you married?
Jennifer: Yes, I am.
Mark: What does your husband do?
Jennifer: He works as a policeman.
Mark: Do you usually have dinner together?
Jennifer: Yes, we do.
Mark: How often does your husband exercise?
Jennifer: He sometimes exercises four times a week. But, he usually exercises only twice a week.
Mark: Where do you like going on holiday?
Jennifer: We rarely go on holiday. However, we like going to the mountains if we can.
Mark: What type of books do you read?
Jennifer: I often read horror stories.
Mark: Thank you very much for answering my questions.
Jennifer: You're welcome!

Take a look at the following conjugation chart. Notice from the above dialogue and following chart that the present simple is often used to describe what we do every day. We use verbs of frequency (always, sometimes, usually, etc.) which indicate a habit.

Permanent or long-lasting situations

Where do you work?
The store opens at 9 o'clock.
She lives in New York.

Regular habits and daily routines

I usually get up at 7 o'clock.
She doesn't often go to the cinema.
When do they usually have lunch?

Facts

The Earth revolves around the Sun.
What does 'strange' mean?
Water doesn't boil at 20°.

Feelings

I love walking around late at night during the summer.
She hates flying!
What do you like? I don't want to live in Texas.

Opinions and states of mind

He doesn't agree with you.
I think he is a wonderful student.
What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Timetables and schedules

The plane leaves at 4 p.m.
When do courses begin this semester?
The train doesn't arrive until 10.35.

Common present time expressions include:

usually, always, often, sometimes, on Saturdays, at weekends (on weekends US English), rarely, on occasion, never, seldom

Structure

In the positive form add an 's' to the base form of the 3rd person singular. If the verb ends in -y preceded by a consonant, change the -y to -ies.

I
You
We
They
eat lunch at noon.
go to school every day.

He
She
It eats lunch at noon.
tries to have fun.

Conjugate the helping verb 'do' not (don't and doesn't) the base form of the verb to make negatives.

I
You
We
They
don't leave at noon.

He
She
It
doesn't leave at noon.

Conjugate the helping verb 'do' (do or does) the base form of the verb in question forms.

Do I
you
we
they
leave at noon?

Does he
she
it
leave at noon?

Test your understanding with this Present Simple Quiz

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.