Present Simple tense

This is the most used tense in English, but it’s not always present and it’s not always simple! Let’s investigate.

1 Form

S=subject, V=verb

  • a) Positive: S V(s)
  • b) Negative: S do(es) not V
  • c) Yes/No question: Do(es) S V ?
  • d) Wh question: Wh_ do(es) S V ?

‘s’ and ‘es’ are used if the subject is he, she or it.

2 Spelling

The base form of the verb is used, so no problem here, except for the ‘s’ form, which can be made in 3 ways.

  • a) Add ‘s’ to the base verb:

eat-eats, live-lives, play-plays, think-thinks.

Special case: have-has

  • b) Add ‘es’ to verbs ending in -ss, -sh, -ch, -x.

kiss-kisses, wash-washes, catch-catches, fix-fixes.

Special cases: do-does, go-goes.

  • c) Verbs ending in consonant + y, change y to i and add ‘es’.

carry-carries, study-studies, fly-flies.

3. Pronunciation

The ‘s’ form is pronounced in 3 ways:

  • a) /s/ eats, makes, gets
  • b) /z/ plays, sees, goes
  • c) /Iz/ washes, dances, fixes

4 Meaning

There is a long list of situations when present simple is used. Here are the main two, which cover about 90% of situations.

  • a) Long-term situations: situations that are (almost) always true, starting from the past and continuing into the future, for eample: facts, opinions, likes.

eg I like strawberries

Jim works in a bank

  • b) Regular actions: often repeated, for example: habit, routine, custom, lifestyle.

eg She plays tennis

Many people eat with chopsticks.

So you can see the present simple is used for normal situations, even though these things may not be happening in the present.

I am sure she doesn’t play tennis all the time, and I’m very sure that many people don’t eat with chopsticks 24 hours a day. And Jim doesn’t work in a bank at nights and weekends and, although I like like strawberries very much, I am not eating any now. I’m drinking a cup of tea, but this is Present Continuous, which we will look at next……


2 thoughts on “Present Simple tense

  1. [1 Form » d) Wh question: Wh_ do(es) S V ? ] should be divided into two cases, I think…

    wh = S –> wh V ?

    wh not = S –> wh do(es) S V ?


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