Present simple

Learn about the present simple and do the exercises to practise using it.

Level: beginner

The present tense is the base form of the verb:

I work in London. 

But with the third person singular (she/he/it), we add an –s:

She works in London.

Present simple questions

Look at these questions:

Do you play the piano?
Where do you live?

Does Jack play football?
Where does he come from?

Do Rita and Angela live in Manchester?
Where do they work?

We use do and does to make questions with the present simple. We use does for the third person singular (she/he/it) and do for the others.

We use do and does with question words like where, what and when:

Where do Angela and Rita live?
What does Angela do?
When does Rita usually get up?

But questions with who often don't use do or does:

Who lives in London?
Who plays football at the weekend?
Who works at Liverpool City Hospital?

Here are some useful questions. Try to remember them:

Where do you come from?
Do you come from …?
Where do you live?
Do you live in ...?
What work do you do?
Do you like …?
Do you know …?

 
Present simple questions 1

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Present simple questions 2

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Present simple questions 3

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Present simple questions 4

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Present simple negatives

Look at these sentences:

I like tennis but I don't like football. (don't = do not)
I don't live in London now.
I don't play the piano but I play the guitar.
They don't work at the weekend.
John doesn't live in Manchester.
(doesn't = does not)
Angela doesn't drive to work. She goes by bus.

We use do and does to make negatives with the present simple. We use doesn't for the third person singular (she/he/it) and don't for the others.

Present simple negatives 1

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Present simple negatives 2

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Present simple and present time

We use the present simple to talk about:

  • something that is true in the present:

I'm nineteen years old.
I'm a student.
He lives in London.

  • something that happens regularly in the present:

I play football every weekend.

  • something that is always true:

The human body contains 206 bones.
Light travels at almost 300,000 kilometres per second.

We often use adverbs of frequency like sometimes, always and never with the present simple:

I sometimes go to the cinema.
She never plays football.

Here are some useful sentences. Complete them so that they are true for you and try to remember them:

My name is … .
I'm … years old.
I come from … .
I live in … .
I'm a(n) … .
I … at the weekend.
I often … .
I never … .

Complete these sentences so that they are true for a friend and try to remember them:

Her/His name is … .
She's/He's … years old.
She/He comes from … .
She/He lives in … .
She's/He's a(n) … .
She/He … at the weekend.
She/He often … .
She/He never … .
Present simple 1

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Present simple 2

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Present simple 3

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Present simple 4

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Present simple 5

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Present simple 6

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Present simple 7

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Level: intermediate

Present simple and future time

We also use the present simple to talk about:

  • something that is fixed in the future:

The school term starts next week.
The train leaves at 19.45 this evening.
We fly to Paris next week.

  • something in the future after time words like when, after and before and after if and unless:

I'll talk to John when I see him.
You must finish your work before you go home.

If it rains we'll get wet.
He won't come unless you ask him.

Present simple 8

ex. Present simple 8

Level: advanced

We sometimes use the present simple to talk about the past when we are: 

  • telling a story:

I was walking down the street the other day when suddenly this man comes up to me and tells me he has lost his wallet and asks me to lend him some money. Well, he looks a bit dangerous so I'm not sure what to do and while we are standing there 

  • summarising a book, film or play:

Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts School. He has two close friends, Hermione and …

Shakespeare's Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. One night he sees his father's ghost. The ghost tells him he has been murdered 

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Submitted by Andrés Arias Q. on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 16:43

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Nice exercises and explanations. If you are a beginner, this is going to help you a lot.

Submitted by Henok17 on Tue, 17/03/2020 - 15:03

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Hi gentlemen I want to ask the difference between the following sentences. I do care about you. I care about you. what is the differnce between adding "do'' why don't you ask me ? why do you not ask me ? some people use ''not'' before the subject pronoun.

Hello Henokk17

In the first pair of sentences, the first one (with auxiliary 'do') is more emphatic than the second one. Someone might say this when, for example, the other person they are talking to says that they don't care about them. By saying 'I do care', you could show that you think the other person is wrong.

In the second pair of sentences, there is no difference in meaning, but the first one is more informal and the second more formal.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

is different, because in the first case: I do care: It re-states the meaning for the other person that you care in the second: I care also means that you care but with less intensity than the other, in this case "do" works as an adverb to make emphasis on the other verb , and not as an action "do"
that happens because "do" is more formal. Also because it is an auxiliary and the "do" is used for I, you, we, they. Also for example for me to say They "do not" study French to pass it to a shorter answer they don't study French

Submitted by KA Juwo on Sat, 04/01/2020 - 14:42

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I ve seen present simple in mama-called-the-doctor-and-the-doctor-said.-no-more-monkeys-jumping-on-the-bed situations. May be by a teacher or by an elder to kids, No one touches my things, leaves the room untill I am back etc. Will you through some light, please?

Submitted by gaudentiaresika on Wed, 18/12/2019 - 14:04

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Hi I'm wondering why do we sometimes use present simple when we narrate a past event? Can you explain it to us? Thanks!
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Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 19/12/2019 - 07:35

In reply to by gaudentiaresika

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Hello gaudentiaresika,

This is a stylistic choice. Present forms can be used to make a narrative more immediate and direct. They are sometimes used in literature for this effect - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins are examples of novels writen using present forms.

Present forms are particularly common in anecotes and jokes, and also when describing sporting events, either as commentary or when describing them later.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bobby Glazed on Sun, 01/09/2019 - 12:36

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Is this question a Present simple tense? Who will cook dinner tonight?

Hello Bobby Glazed

No, I'm afraid that is a 'will' + infinitive form, which seems to be used to talk about willingness here (see point 3 on our Talking about the future page). 'Who cooks dinner tonight?' uses the present simple.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sanjay on Mon, 19/08/2019 - 13:39

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sir when we use it what should we use(do/does)
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Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 19/08/2019 - 19:39

In reply to by Sanjay

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Hello Sanjay

We use 'does' when 'it' is the subject.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Carlos ortiz on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 16:10

In reply to by Sanjay

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Hello, Sanjay. You should use "does" with the third person singular(he,she,it); and "do" with the rest(I,You,They). Either question or answer, positive or negative(don't, doesn't/ do not, does not).

Submitted by Karen on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 23:13

In reply to by Sanjay

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We use « do » when the subject is I-you-we or they. When the subject is he-she or « it » we add «does » at the beginning to make the affirmative sentence a question. The letter « s » at the end of the verb in the affirmative sentence ( because it is in third person) disappears in the question.

Submitted by Alonso Morales… on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 02:58

In reply to by Sanjay

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Hi, sanjay When que use the "sir",se are implying that It is a person of masculino vender, so it should be used as a subject "he", so we would be speaking un the third person, It is for this reason that the "does" instead of "do"

Submitted by Russell_S on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 12:35

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Does or Do? Which of your friends _____ the most exercise? I'm 99% sure its "does", but I can't 100% say why, can anyone answer this seemingly simple question?

Hi Russell_S

Both 'do' and 'does' are possible here because 'which' can be used to speak about one person or about many. If the person asking the question is thinking of one person, then 'does' is correct. But if they are thinking of more than one person, then 'do' is correct. 

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Russell... I think I can help you with your question... the answer is "Do". Why? Because Do is used for the pronouns: I, You (singular and plural form) We and they... Does is used for: He, She or It... your friends means... they... I hope you can understand with this information and also you can try with the excersises in this website... :)

Submitted by SarabAli on Thu, 16/05/2019 - 05:03

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Hi, Dear sir,can we use do or does to make an interrogative negative sentence in present simple, (Ali always speaks the truth.) Does Ali never speak the truth? Does Ali not always speak the truth? Which sentence is gramatically and logically correct?
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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 16/05/2019 - 06:18

In reply to by SarabAli

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Hello SarabAli Yes, that's correct, we use 'do/does' to make interrogative and negative sentences in the present simple, as well as interrogatives in the negative. Both of your sentences are grammatically correct. Which one is most suitable depends on the situation. The first one (with 'never') suggests that, in this situation there is the idea that Ali lies a lot and the person asking the question could be surprised to hear this. The second one could suggest that the speaker is surprised to hear that perhaps Ali lies sometimes. I hope this helps you make sense of it. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team
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Submitted by sed far on Tue, 19/03/2019 - 14:30

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Hi can we say the simple present usally use it in the habites and the facts !!! Thanks ! Sed Far
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Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 19/03/2019 - 17:29

In reply to by sed far

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Hello Sed Far Yes, you can say that two of the uses of the present simple are to speak about habits and facts, though there are also other uses (see the bottom half of the page for examples). All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Goktug123 on Fri, 08/02/2019 - 15:50

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Hello team! I have a question.Does these questions have the same meaning? "What do you ask on my mind?" "What is on my mind you ask?"

Hello Goktung123,

The first question is not correct. The second question is grammatically correct, but there should be a comma before 'you'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Sat, 26/01/2019 - 09:35

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Hello Sir Re: a comma after a phrase and before the subject For example: At the weekend she likes to go for a walk in the country or to go swimming in the pool near her home. My question is - a comma after 'At the weekend ' before 'she' is wrong to have or is it an option? Please let me know Regards Lal

Hi Lal

I would put a comma there, but not everyone would. If you're writing for a publication, the style guide used by the publishing house will likely prefer one usage or the other.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Thu, 24/01/2019 - 06:10

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Hi Sir This is regarding commas after a conjunction e.g. I turned the corner, and ran smack into a petrol car. (incorrect) So the correct one is without the comma before 'and' I am I correct but I would like to know this sentence is correct. I turned the corner and, I ran smack into a petrol car. ( a comma after and but with the subject 'I.' Please let me know. Thank you. Regards Lal

Submitted by mazi70 on Mon, 17/12/2018 - 09:27

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hello sir i wanna know which sentences are correct and let me know why? doctor: what's the matter? patient: my head hurts what's the matter?my head is hurting
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 18/12/2018 - 07:14

In reply to by mazi70

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Hello mazi70,

Both forms are possible but the present simple ('hurts') is more likely. The continuous form would be used when the pain suddenly occurs, not when there is an ongoing problem.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello peter i'm a bit confused we use simple present for permanent situation and continuous for temporary situation too the patient's head hurts for a short time e.x 2 days or a week but it's not permanent situation ,it's temporary situation may i ask you explain it to me more thank you

Hello mazi70,

The continuous form here would emphasise that the pain is happening as the person speaks rather than being a constant feeling:

My head hurts = it's sore

My head is hurting = it wasn't sore some time (a moment) ago but now it is

 

Thus, if we are talking about a problem which is constant (even if it only began yesterday) then we would use the simple form. If we are talking about, say, an intermittent pain which comes and goes then the continuous form.

My head hurts all the time. It started a week ago.

My head is hurting. It was fine when I came in but now it's quite painful.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Sun, 21/10/2018 - 04:06

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Hi Kirk, Thank you for helping me regarding 'If a person is trying to go up the ladder...Help me to understand this ,too: 'give them' but not 'give him' Is it because 'both genders.' without telling 'him or her.' Please let me know. Thank you. Regards Lal
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 21/10/2018 - 08:24

In reply to by Lal

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Hi Lal,

That is correct. Well done.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 07:57

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Hello Sir Please let me know which sentence is better to use and if they are grammatically correct if not correct it and let me know which is better e.g. If a person is trying to go up the ladder give him a push, don't pull him down. or If a person wants to go up the ladder give him a push, don't pull him down. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

They both sound fine to me. In writing, I would punctuate them differently -- something like: 'If a person is trying to go up the ladder, give them a push -- don't pull them down.' 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Lal I think you should make some changes, for example: If a person is trying to climb the ladder, give it a push, do not pull it down. Or it could also be: If a person wants to climb the ladder, give it a push, do not pull it down.

Submitted by Lal on Wed, 17/10/2018 - 10:04

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Hello Sir My question is regarding present continuous and verbs of senses such as see, taste, feel etc. e.g. How are you feeling today? How do you feel now? Normally one does not use continuous form with these verbs but in some situations we use. I am feeling tired. or I feel tired. Are these sentences correct? Please let me know. Regards Lal

Hello Lal,

As you say, usually we do not use these verbs with continuous aspect. However, there are exceptions when we want to emphasise that something is (a) temporary and also (b) not typical, or when there has been a change. Thus I can say I'm feeling good if normally or recently I was not in good form (I was sick, for example). I might say It's looking good if it was not good up to now but has just changed.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Tue, 02/10/2018 - 07:53

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Hello Sir Please explain this to me. If sombdy asks me 'Have you had lunch? ' My answer: I have had lunch. Thank you. / I had lunch. Thank you. Both these answers are correct or one then which one Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

Both forms are fine, though the present perfect form is probably more common. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Wed, 26/09/2018 - 08:17

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Hello Sir Re: active voce to passive voice Please help me to understand this. Any active voice sentence with a object can be changed into passive voice that is the verb is transitive. I am I correct? e.g. Boys like to play football. (active voice) Now I want to change into passive voice. e.g. To play football is liked by boys. The girl is learning to sew. To sew is being learnt by the girl. Are these passive sentences correct? I am not sure of the first sentence but 'like' is a transitive verb. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

In theory, what you say is correct, but the sentences you've chosen to transform are not ones that you'd likely find in the passive. It's more common for the active verb to have a simple direct object, e.g. 'Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet', which could be rendered 'Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare' in the passive. Though really, we usually use the passive when we want to de-emphasise the agent, so it's more common in sentences such as 'Mistakes were made' (we don't want to say who made the mistakes) than it is to find one such as the example with Shakespeare.

Have you seen our active and passive voice page? This sort of question would be better asked there.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Tue, 25/09/2018 - 08:11

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Hello Sir Re: who or whom Jim is good athlete who we all admired a lot. My question? Is it all right to use 'who' 'instead' of whom? In the above and in all situations unlike earlier. Is it accepted? Please let me know. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

That really depends on who (or 'whom') you ask, but I'd say the vast majority of native speakers of British and American English would just say 'who' in this and similar sentences. Fifty years ago, there would have been more who used 'whom' instead of 'who', and they'd likely have insisted on it being more correct, but this attitude is much harder to find nowadays.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Tue, 25/09/2018 - 07:59

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Hello Sir This is about question tags. e.g. I am taller than you,------------ ? I would like to know the question tag for the above. Please help me. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hello Lal,

We use te auxiliary verb 'are' for question tags in the first person, so the tag would be as follows:

I'm taller than you, aren't I?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir Thank you very much for explaining the question tag 'aren't I ? I was unsure of it. Now I am positive. Regards Lal

Submitted by Lal on Sun, 23/09/2018 - 11:20

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Hello Sir Re: relative clauses Please let me know whether the two sentences . one and two are correct or not. Jim is a good athlete. We al admire him. 1. Jim is a good athlete whom we all admire. 2. Jim whom we all admire is a good athlete. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hello Lal,

The first sentence is fine, though 'who' is more common in modern English than 'whom'.

The second sentence needs commas around the relative clause:

Jim, whom we all admire, is a good athlete.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Fri, 07/09/2018 - 08:37

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Hello Sir Re: dozen The noun dozen is plural according to the dictionary. But can't one add 's' e.g. two dozens of apples or two dozen of apples the dictionary example is 'two dozen of sheep' is it because sheep is uncountable.? Please let me know. Thank you. Regards Lal