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 

Basic level

Comments

Hello Tim,

The concept of 'right now' is problematic. To be precise, we use the present continuous to describe actions which are limited in time (i.e. not permanent) and in progress at the moment of speaking. That means that a verb like 'promise' does not generally occur in continuous forms because it is almost never 'in progress': the act of saying 'I promise' is how we do it, so for the action to be in progress someone would need to interrupt the promise itself. You can imagine someone saying irritably "Do you mind not interrupting? I'm promising something important here!" This is why we use terms like 'I do' when we get married (not 'I'm doing") and ''I swear' (not 'I'm swearing').

In your example 'continues' is used to emphasise that this is now typical behavour which can be expected from the person, rather than something which is temporary and current. If the sentence say 'He is continuing to...' then we would understand that this is something which is happening at the moment but will stop at some point. For example, we might say this when someone is angry at a particular thing, rather than simply being generally opposed to another person's behaviour.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Thanks, I think I see your point about the concept of "right now" vis-à-vis the use of continuous and non-continuous verbs. Regarding my example "He continues to attack his colleagues...", I suppose the idea is that the use of "continues" rather than "is continuing", as you mentioned, shows that this is likely a thing that will go on for sometime. In other words, relating to your article's mention of the uses of the simple present, my example would fall under the category of "something that is true in the present", i.e. its a fact that "he continues to attack his colleagues"?

Regards,
Tim

Hi Tim,

Yes, I think that is correct. Often the best approach is not to consider the meaning of a form in isolation, but rather to ask what would change if another form were used. Here the continuous form would refer to a particular activity in progress which is not seen as typical - it would refer to a particular issue which has caused a conflict. The simple form is a more general description of the person's behaviour and character.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

What the difference between sentences in present simple "What do you do next week?"
And sentence in present continuous "What are you doing next week?"
Can I use it in the same way?

Hello Andrzej93,

Both the present simple and present continuous can be used with future meaning. We use the present simple to describe actions which are part of a timetable or fixed schedule. You might use your first question if the person being asked had a fixed work schedule and could check what work they had been assigned.

We use the present continuous to describe arrangements, usually made by ourselves. You might use the second question to ask about a person's strong plans for the next week, for example.

You can read more about these forms and other ways of talking about the future on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter M,
Thank You very much for your explanation.
Best wishes,
Andrzej93

Hi Dear,

I have one question. Present simple is used for permanent works like : I go to work everyday.

But when we use sometimes it has a conflict with the meaning of permanent.

Would you please explain?

Thanks

Hello Anabel15,

In your example 'sometimes' does not tell us that an act is temporary but rather tells us about the frequency of the activity, just like 'every day'. 

The preset simple describes actions which are typical or normal for a given actor. They may not be permanent. For example, I might say 'My son goes to school at 7.00 in the morning". This is not permanent - he will stop going to school when he reaches a certain age - but it is typical of him and part of his normal routine so the present simple is used.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!
I need some help in this sentence:
Why...(you/wear) your coat today? It's very warm.
What should I put in this sentence: present simple or present continuous?

Thank you for your help.

Hello WhiteCollar,

When we speak about the clothes we have on at the time of speaking (not habits), we use a continuous form. So here the present continuous is the correct form.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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