Simple Present Tense in English GrammarJust here for the exercises? Click here.
What is the simple present?
The simple present (also called present simple) is the basic present tense in English.
It expresses facts, sequential and repeated actions and timetabled future events. It is one of the most commonly used tenses in the English language.
Read on to learn when to use the simple present and how to conjugate it, then practise using this tense in the exercises.
Colin likes football. He is a forward. A forward tries to score goals for his team.
Colin plays football every Tuesday. His training starts at five o’clock. After school Colin goes home, packs his bag, puts on his football shirt and then he goes to football training. He has to take the bus. The bus leaves at half past four.
We use the simple present tense for:
- events that take place regularly or habitually with signal words such as: always, never, rarely, often
- He plays football every Tuesday.
- events that take place one after the other
- After school Colin goes home, packs his bag, puts on his football shirt and then he goes to football training.
- facts, or things that are generally valid
- A forward tries to score goals for his team.
- future actions that are planned and predetermined (e.g. by a timetable or programme)
- The bus leaves at half past four.
- His training starts at five o’clock.
- stative verbs and verbs of thought/memory
- Colin likes football.
- He is a forward.
Signal Words: English Simple Present Tense
The following are signal words for the simple present:
- always, normally, usually
- often, sometimes, seldom
- every day/week/month/…
Simple present vs. other present tenses
In addition to the simple present, there are three more present tenses in English grammar: the present progressive, the present perfect and the present perfect progressive. Each one has a different function.
You can learn when to use which present tense over in Lingolia’s English Tense Comparison section:
Conjugation of English Simple Present Tense
The conjugation of English verbs in the simple present is relatively simple. We add an -s/-es to verbs in the third person singular (he/she/it), otherwise the verb does not change. In positive sentences, we use the verb in its present form. In negative sentences and questions, we use the auxiliary verb do. The main verb is used in the infinitive form.
|I/you/we/they||I speak||I do not speak||Do I speak?|
|he/she/it||he speaks||he does not speak||Does he speak?|
Simple Present – Spelling Rules
To conjugate verbs in the third person singular in English grammar, we simply and an -s to the verb. However, there are a few exceptions to take note of:
- When the verb ends with an -o, -ch, -sh, we add -es.
- do – he does
- wash – she washes
- When the verb ends with a consonant + y, we change the y to ie before adding the -s. However, verbs that end in vowel + y simply take -s.
- worry – he worries
(but: play – he plays)
- Modal verbs such as can, may, might, and must never take an -s. They remain the same in all forms.
- he can swim
- she must go
The Verbs be and have
The verb be is irregular in all its forms. In negative sentences and questions, we do not use it with an auxiliary verb.
|I||I am||I am not||Am I?|
|he/she/it||he is||he is not||Is he?|
|you/we/they||you are||you are not||Are you?|
have or have got
There are two versions of the verb have in the simple present: have and have got. They are conjugated differently in positive, negative and interrogative senteces.
|I/you/we/they||I have/I have got||I do not have/I have not got||Do I have?/Have I got?|
|he/she/it||he has/he has got||he does not have/he has not got||Does he have?/Has he got?|
Usage of have got
Have got expresses possession/belonging in British English. This form is uncommon in American English.
Contractions are a combination of certain pronouns, verbs and the word not. They are mostly used in spoken and informal written English. The table below provides an overview of contractions in the present simple using the verbs be, have and do.
|am (not)||…’m (not)||I’m (not) (not:
|are not||…’re not/… aren’t||we’re not/we aren’t|
|is not||…’s not/… isn’t||she’s not/she isn’t|
|have not||…’ve not/… haven’t||I’ve not/I haven’t|
|has not||…’s not/… hasn’t||he’s not/he hasn’t|
|do not||don’t||you don’t|
|does not||doesn’t||it doesn’t|
In written English, the contracted form of are can only be used after pronouns, not after nouns, or names.
- They’re not interested in football.
- (but not:
The girls’re not interested in football.)