Present Simple Tense

This lesson will look at how the present simple tense is formed, how to use it, along with some examples and exercises.

The present simple is a tense that is taught extensively in English lessons, especially in courses for beginners, but can cause a few problems (especially when used in the third person singular).

After we have explained how to use this tense, you will find links to different dialogues and examples to help you understand the tense even more.

For forming the verbs in the affirmative, negative and question we will use the verb ‘to work’ as an example.

Present Simple Form

Affirmative

Subject Verb Form
I / we / you / they work
He / She / It works

*For the third person singular;

if the verb ends in ‘s’, ‘z’, ‘ch’, or sh’ – add ‘es’. E.g. He wishes. She passes.
if the verb ends in ‘y’ – change the ‘y’ and add ‘ies’. E.g. He cries. It flies.

Negative

Subject Auxiliary verb and verb form
I / we / you / they don’t work
He / She / It doesn’t work

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‘Don’t’ is the contracted form of ‘do not’
‘Doesn’t’ is the contracted form of ‘does not’

Question

Auxiliary Verb and Subject Verb Form
Do + I / we / you / they work?
Does + He / She / It work?

Talking about things in general

It is used to talk about things in general, and to say that something happens all the time or repeatedly: habits, hobbies, daily events, schedules, daily routines. Take a look at the following examples:

  • I play football twice a week.
  • Do you play tennis?
  • The train leaves at 3pm on Wednesdays.
  • I don´t get up early on Sundays.
  • I don’t like ice cream.
  • He goes there all the time.
  • The cafe opens at 7.30am.

David’s Daily Routine

Read David’s daily routine; look for the different adverbs of frequency used.

“I usually get up at 7am. Afterwards I eat breakfast and read the newspaper. I sometimes take a shower but I prefer having a bath. I get to university at 10am and I have two classes. After the classes I usually go to the beach and meet my friends. My friend Sarah doesn’t like the beach. She generally goes to the park with her dog. In the evening we study together and then have a few drinks in a local bar.”

The Daily Routine of Some English Teachers

Exercise

The following present simple exercises can be done by speaking with your tutor or a friend, or by writing the answers:

1. Write about your daily routine. Use the following key verbs and any others that you know; to get up, to eat breakfast, to take/have a shower, to drive to work, to get to work, to have/eat lunch, to play, to walk, to go to bed.

2. Write about yourself. E.g., I live in France, I like playing football etc.

3. Write about a friend. Describe what he or she looks like, does for a living and likes to do in their spare time.

More Practice

1. Here is a good example answer from students when I ask them to tell me about themselves:

Teacher: So, tell me about yourself.

Student: Well, I’m thirty years old and live in Valencia, Spain. I’m an accountant at a large accountancy firm and work quite long hours which means I don’t have much spare time. I have a wife and two kids so I spend my weekends going to the park, playing outside and generally being quite active.

I love to watch old classic movies and listen to British rock music. I also love traveling and try to go somewhere new every year. I’m quite shy sometimes but only around new people and I’m quite outgoing with my friends.

2. Here is a typical Christmas Day from the point of view of a young boy.

3. Here are some present simple dialogues to give you some more examples.