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Present simple

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

Hi, is it possible to say Present simple and past simple in one sentence? For example “your presentation was great. You seem to have a good understanding of the subject, and you succeeded in getting the attention of the audience”.

Hi Tinnycool,

Yes, it's perfectly fine to use two different tenses like that, provided one action/state is a present (or general) action/state and the other is past.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

It says We use the present simple to talk about fixed in the future.
Then,
When does this show end?
Or
When will this show end?
Does the meaning change?
Can I use both?
Thank a lot.

 

Hello DaniWeebKage,

In this context both are possible.

 

The present simple is used for future time when events are regular or part of a schedule. It is similar to asking 'What time is the show supposed to/meant to finish?'

The modal verb will is used for predictions of particular events. It is similar to asking 'What time do you think/expect the show to finish?'

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Could you please explain to me why the present simple is used in talking about the Past?
What If I use Past simple instead of Present Simple,
Does the meaning change?

Hi DaniWeebKage,

Sure! This is quite commonly done when we tell a story or summarise one.

The story events are, of course, past events (i.e. they have already happened). But, using the present tense has a particular effect: it catches listeners' attention and engages them in the story. This is because the present simple presents the story as something that develops and unfolds as the listeners listen. There is a feeling that the story is happening now (i.e. in the moment of telling it). It's a really effective storytelling technique :)

As you suggest, it's also possible to tell a story using the past simple (with other past tenses). This way, you present the story to the listeners as something that happened some time ago, distant from the present moment. It doesn't have the immediate, engaging effect of the present simple.

I just want to emphasise that the present simple is used to talk about the past for these specific conversational actions: telling or summarising a story. We can't use the present simple to talk about past actions in general.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teachers,

I would like to know why the future simple is used instead of the present simple in the following sentences

1. the presumption will not apply to overseas companies.

2. A connected person will not be permitted to vote on the resolution approving the transaction

3. In deciding whether to grant an exemption, the Committee will take into account a number of factors.

My view is that these sentences are about general rules and facts. So I am confused about the use of the future simple here.

Many thanks!

Hi LilyLinSZ,

It's hard to give a detailed explanation without knowing the context in which a given sentence appears, but I'll comment as far as I can.

1. the presumption will not apply to overseas companies.

This sentence may be describing something which is not yet in effect, or it could be a prediction about the present. The speaker could be speculating about the current situation.

 

2. A connected person will not be permitted to vote on the resolution approving the transaction

The sentence describes a particular vote in the future. The rule may apply to votes in general, but the speaker is referencing a particular vote.

 

3. In deciding whether to grant an exemption, the Committee will take into account a number of factors.

Again, this references a particular decision in the future.

 

By the way, the term 'future simple' is not one we generally use. Will is not a tense, but rather a modal verb like might, should, may and so on. Will often describes future time but so does might, and both can also describe present time.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello LilyLinSZ,

You're right in thinking that the present simple could be used here. I can't say for sure why they use the future without knowing more, but I'd say it's because these three phrases/sentences are from quite formal contexts. 'will' is often used in formal situations to speak of rules or official arrangements, or to issue commands. 

Does that make sense?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

One of the use of the simple present tense, as mentioned in the article above, is to express "something that is true in the present". My queries are:

(a) Does this only refer to something that is definitely true at the present moment, or does it also include things which we think are true?

(b) Does this refer to something that is always true at the present moment, but not in the past or future, for example "I don't like mushrooms" (meaning to say I didnt like mushrooms in the past, and I may or may not like it in the future, but one thing is that right now in the present, I don't like mushroom). May I know if this the right understanding? and is my example correct?

(c) Other examples that i can think of to support the second point i made above are: "

I really love my job.

Mrs Clare doesn’t teach me but she teaches my sister.

Do you live in Glasgow? My cousin lives there too.

Spiders don’t frighten me.

Martha does what she wants. No one tells her what to do."

Essentially, what i mean by my examples above is that these are things which are true in the present (i.e. now), but may or may not be true in the past and future. Am I right to use the simple present tense for the above examples?

Thanks.

Regards,
Tim

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