One of the most important parts of English grammar is verb tenses, and the simple present tense is the most common verb tense in English. Over 50% of verbs in English are in the simple present tense, so it's a really important tense to learn. It is used for several different situations.

Using the Simple Present Tense in English

The simple present can describe actions that happen regularly. This means things we do again and again, things we do every day, every week, every month. This can be routines and habits, and also things that are currently, always, or generally true.

Chart for Simple Present Tense in English

Simple Present Repeated Actions

The simple present is also used to describe feelings, emotions, and our senses. We can also use it for describing people and things in English.

The examples below illustrate the rules for how we generally use the simple present tense.

Examples of the simple Present tense

Here are some example sentences showing different ways that we can use the simple present tense:

To state facts:

The earth moves around the sun.

Birds have wings.

Your mother's mother is your grandmother.

To describe habits and routines:

I wake up at 7:00.

I brush my teeth every day.

I take my vacation every August.

To describe people and things:

She has brown hair.

That car is red.

Sally is tall

To describe feelings and opinions:

She is angry.

We are cold.

I smell cookies.

Sarah loves movies.

Table: Forming the Simple present

As shown in the table below, regular verbs in English take the base form of the verb (the infinitive without to, sometimes called first verb form). The exception is the third person singular (he, she, and it), which add an -s. If the word ends in -ch, -sh, -th, -ss,  -o, or -z, you usually have to add -es. See the conjugation table for the full conjugation of work.

Simple Present Tense Verb Conjugation
Singular Plural
1st person work. we  work.
2nd person you  work. you  work.
3rd person he  works. they  work.
she  works.
it  works.

Other Forms of the simple present

Negative Sentences

If the main verb is a form of be, simply put not after the verb to make a negative sentence. 

That is not pork.

I’m not Rebecca.

If the main verb is not a form of be, use the helping verb, do (or does), then not, then the base form of the verb.

He does not like cheese.

I do not have a lighter.

She doesn’t live near here.

Questions

Many simple present questions use the verb be. If the verb is a form of be, move the verb to before the subject to form a question:

Are you Rebecca?

Is this pork?

Where are you?

What is that?

If the main verb is not be, we need to use a helping verb to make questions. In the simple present, the helping verb is do (or does with he, she, or it).

Does he like cheese?

Do you have a lighter?

What do you think?

Where does she live?

Passive Voice

To make a passive sentence in the simple present, use be in the simple present (is/are), and then the perfect form of the main verb.

Pineapples are grown in Hawaii.

Ice cream is made with milk.

The New York Times is read around the country.


Notes

  • Adverbs of frequency are often used with the simple present tense.

check out these other free grammar resources:


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