Understanding the present simple

So what is the present simple and when do we use it?Ok let’s start off by looking at the USE.

We use this tense when we are talking about:

Routines, habits, facts and when talking generally about things.

This probably still sounds a bit vague so let’s look at these one by one.

ROUTINES

This refers to what we usually do and particularly when we do them repeatedly,

at a certain time every day. Here are some of my routines:

I buy a travel card every Monday

I get up at 7am

I brush my teeth before going to bed

HABITS

Habits are similar to routines but less about our schedule. People have good or

bad habits that they often do without thinking about and can’t stop. Here are some

of my good and bad habits (!):

I exercise regularly

I don’t put things away after I’ve used them

I don’t smoke

I often leave things until the last minute

FACTS

Here are some facts about the UK:

If you live until 100, you get a personalised card from the queen!

Buckingham Palace has its own police station!

The English drink more tea than anyone else in the world (not so surprising!)

WHEN TALKING GENERALLY

These things don’t always happen but they are generally true.

The sun shines in summer

Children learn at school

People relax at weekends

In the infographic below you can see on the time line that the present

simple can be true now, in the past and in the future. If you look at the

example sentences above, they aren’t just referring to today or this current time.

We often use these adverbs with the present simple:

ALWAYS, OFTEN, SOMETIMES, NOT USUALLY and NEVER.

There are also more but these are the most common. You can see from

the infographic how these adverbs are used with always at the top to convey

high frequency and never at the bottom with 0 frequency.

Now let’s look at the form of the present simple. The positive form of I, you,

we you (plural) and they is easy as we just add the infinitive (the verb).

Here are some examples,

I eat, you eat, we eat, you eat, they eat I go, you go, we go, you, go they go

I drink, you drink, we drink, you drink, they drink

present simple form
present simple form

If you are using he, she and it, you need to remember to add an S.

For example,

Here are some examples (about my brother and sisters). All true!

Lucy (she) loves reading

Daniel (he) goes surfing.

Miranda (she) has a little boy

Nell (she) speaks Chinese

present simple form 3RD endings
present simple form 3RD endings

If the verb ends with sh, ch or x, you need to add -es

For example:

He watches, she watches, it watches

He washes, she washes, it washes

He fixes, she fixes, it fixes

If the verb ending with a consonant followed by a y, you need to add -ies

For example:

He flies, she flies, it flies

He marries, she marries, it marries(!)

If the verb ends with an o, we add es

For example:

He goes, she goes, it goes

He does , she does, it does

Remember that the verb TO BE has different rules and is not part of this tense.

present simple 3rd person
present simple 3rd person

The infographic below shows how to form the negative with I, you,

we, you and they. We usually contract DO NOT to don’t.

Here are some examples:

I don’t have a car

We don’t live in the countryside

My sisters (they) don’t have short hair

present simple form negative
present simple form negative

If you are talking about he, she or it in negative, you need to add DOES NOT.

The S moves from the verb to the auxilary DO. We usually contract this and

say doesn’t.

Here are some examples:

Lucy doesn't live in South London

Daniel doesn’t have blue eys

Miranda doesn’t have brown hair

Nell doesn’t have a car

present simple form 3RD negative
present simple form 3RD negative

When you ask questions in the present simple, the subject and auxilary DO

are inverted. The DO comes at the beginning and is followed by I, you, we,

you (plural) and they and the subject is followed by the infinitive(the verb).

For example:

Do you live in London?

Do you eat meat?

Do you speak English?

present simple form question
present simple form question

If you are asking a question with he, she or it, you just need to put DOES at the

beginning, instead of DO.

For example:

Does he live in London?

Does he eat cheese?

Does he work full-time?

present simple form question 3rd
present simple form question 3rd

exercises

the third person singular