The present tense is the base form of the verb: I work in London.
But the third person (she/he/it) adds an -s: She works in London.

Use

We use the present tense to talk about:

  • something that is true in the present:

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

  • something that happens again and again in the present:

I play football every weekend.

We use words like sometimes, often. always, and never (adverbs of frequency) with the present tense:

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

  • something that is always true:

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

  

  • something that is fixed in the future.

The school term starts next week.
The train leaves at 1945 this evening.
We fly to Paris next week.

 

Questions and negatives

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?

  • With the present tense, we use do and does to make questions. We use does for the third person (she/he/it) and we use do for the others.

 

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

 

 But look at these questions with who:

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

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.

  • With the present tense we use do and does to make negatives. We use does not (doesn’t) for the third person (she/he/it) and we use do not (don’t) for the others.

Complete these sentences with don’t or doesn’t:

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hello Sir, I can hope you are fine and fit. I wish to know what is different between these two sentences: 1) I don't smoke. 2) I never smoke.

Hello nadarali1996,

In isolation there is no difference in meaning. The first sentence is by far the more common, however. We would generally only use the second to show exceptions - when we are a smoker who has certain rules about not smoking. For example, we might say 'I never smoke when I'm in the car' or 'I never smoke when I'm around children'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teachers,

I have questions about the use of the simple present tense to express "somethign that is true in the present". Am I right to say that only non-continuous verbs (linking verbs or verbs that express states) are used in the simple present tense to express something that is true/ or happening right now?

Also, to express something that is true/happening right now for continuous verbs, we would use the present continuous tense rather than the simple present?

The thing is, I recently got abit confused when i read a sentence in an article: "He continues to attack his colleagues with scathing words". In such an example, wouldnt "is continuing to attack" (present continuous) rather than "continues" (simple present), be a better choice?

Regards,
Tim

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

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