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 

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Soumis par Gulnara_BC le mar 02/11/2021 - 04:18

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Hello!

Could you please clarify if it's correct to use Present Simple in this sentence below or it must be Present Perfect and why?

This building is not occupied and is not used since the beginning of the pandemic.

Thank you!

Hello Gulnara_BC,

There are two verbs in this sentence, but I assume you are asking about the second one ('is not used').

'is not used' is not correct; 'has not been used' is the form you need here. The first verb in the present simple is correct because it's speaking about the condition of the building now, but the second one needs to be present perfect because the beginning of the pandemic is not now, but rather in the past.

When we think of a period of time that began in the past (in this case, late 2019 or early 2020 when the pandemic began) and is still ongoing now (because the pandemic is not finished), we often use the present perfect to refer to it.

Hope this helps you make sense of it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Mussorie le ven 16/04/2021 - 17:53

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General doubt, not relevant to this page. Sorry for that The sentence is: the probability of two people drawn at random being able to have a conversation in their mother tongue was 0.5. In terms of grammar, how is the " being able " acting in the sentence? In my opinion: two people who are able is reduced to being able. Like who are contracted into being in this case. Is my explanation correct? If not, please explain me the manner in which "being able" is used in this context.

Hello Mussorie,

You're correct: the meaning of 'being able...' here is the same as 'who are able'. It has an adjectival function as it describes the noun phrase before it ('two people drawn at random').

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Mussorie le mar 13/04/2021 - 15:26

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Could I know what is the difference or the meaning of the two sentences? 1.He has had a headache since last Monday. 2.He is to have had a headache.

Hello Mussorie,

The first sentence tells us that the person started having a headache last Monday and still has a headache at the time of speaking.

The second sentence does not make sense. You can use is to have done when you are giving a date by which something is to be completed, but this does not work with a headache as it is not something which we can control.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rizk Hussein le lun 15/03/2021 - 15:58

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Need help please The boss isn’t available right now. He............. an important meeting. a. has b. is having C has had I think all options are right, what is your opinion , sir

Hi Rizk Hussein,

The first two options make sense. I would choose one of those two.

Option c is possible, but less likely. He has had an important meeting means that the meeting has finished by now, so he is not in the meeting now. But he may still be unavailable if, for example, the meeting was stressful and he needs time to relax because of it.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Could you please explain how the second option " is having " is valid in this context? Because we don't use "having" ( stative verb) as in its continuous form. In this context, the meeting is not an experience right, then how can we use it. Please explain it.

Hi Mussorie,

The verb have has several meanings. The ‘possession’ meaning is stative, e.g.:

  • She has a big house. (She's having a big house.)
  • He has short hair. (He's having short hair.)

But have can also refer to doing an action, as in the examples below, and that’s why it possible (and common) to use it in continuous tenses:

  • I’m having a break.
  • She’s having a meeting.
  • They’re having lunch.
  • I was having a shower when you called.

Take a look at this page on Stative verbs for more explanation and examples of verbs with these two meanings. I hope it helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Please reply, why can't we use has had in a different context like the meeting is continuing (because it started in past and continuing till the question being asked). That is the reason why he is not available. Can we assume in that sense?

Hello Mussorie,

We use the present perfect simple to talk about a finished event that has some connection to the present. Especially when it's a event like a meeting, it is clearly finished. For this reason, it's not appropriate in this context in which the meeting is over.

If the meeting is still happening when this question is asked, then I'd say 'He is in an important meeting'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par luharriet le lun 22/02/2021 - 15:46

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Hello, is this sentence present simple? I always go to the beach when it's hot

Soumis par Erfan1806 le sam 23/01/2021 - 10:33

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Hi, are these correct: We sing songs. My brother and sister open the presents.

Soumis par Lucas Nascimen… le dim 17/01/2021 - 15:08

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Dear LearnEnglish Team. I did the exercises about "Simple present" and I have doubt in the exercise: * (Simples present question 4 / number 8). Is it necessary types "?" in the end of question? If you do not type "?", the system not accept as correct answer. Sincerely Lucas Nascimento da Silva

Hello Lucas,

I'm sorry about that -- that was a mistake on our part. I've fixed it now. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about it and I'm sorry for the convenience!

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rashid ali le lun 21/12/2020 - 05:31

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I wake up at six o' clock or i wake everyday at six o' clock...... Are these sentences correct?

Hello Rashid ali,

Yes, those sentences are grammatically correct and describe typical or normal behaviour. I think 'wake up' is much more common in modern English, but both are possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rashid ali le lun 21/12/2020 - 04:56

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How can i use present simple for commentaries even that action is in progress?

Hello Rashid ali,

You can hear this use of the present simple if you watch a sporting event with English language commentary. The commentators describe the action using the present simple:

Jones passes to Smith. Smith runs and shoots. He scores!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Zuzanna le ven 11/12/2020 - 14:27

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Could you please tell me why in the sentence,, I was walking down the street the other day when suddenly this man comes up" past continuous is used at first and then present simple? Would it be correct if I said, I am walking down the street...."?

Hi Zuzanna,

It's an interesting question! When telling a story, we use the present simple for a particular effect: to give the listener a sense that the story events are happening right now, in front of the listener. It makes the storytelling more interesting and engaging.

 

So, what about the sentence you mention? The use of the past continuous shows that this action (walking down the street) is only a background context for the story. It's not a main event of the story, so it doesn't need the special effect that the present simple brings. The main events begin with suddenly this man comes up to me ... and the use of the present simple. 

 

So, you could use I am walking ... , but only if this action is a main event of the story and you want to draw the listener's attention and interest to it.

 

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Tinnycool le jeu 22/10/2020 - 18:50

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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

Soumis par DaniWeebKage le ven 16/10/2020 - 02:58

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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

Soumis par DaniWeebKage le jeu 15/10/2020 - 11:34

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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

Soumis par LilyLinSZ le ven 02/10/2020 - 14:10

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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!

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 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

Soumis par Timothy555 le dim 13/09/2020 - 12:40

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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

Soumis par Peter M. le mar 15/09/2020 - 08:28

En réponse à par Timothy555

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Hello Tim,

Unless we use an adverb such as 'probably' or 'maybe', or an adverbial phrase such as 'as far as I know', the present simple expresses something the speaker believes to be true. Of course, the speaker may be mistaken.

The present simple does not preclude a change in the future, but it does imply that the speaker does not anticipate or foresee any change. Thus, if I say 'I live in Paris' then I know that this may change, but I do not see any change at the moment; from my perspective it is a settled truth. On the other hand, if I say 'I'm living in Paris' then I see the situation as temporary. I may not have any plans to change it at the moment, but I do not expect it to last forever.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par PabloTT le sam 22/08/2020 - 10:57

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Hi teacher, We need more time to see how things develop before we take action. I will know within the next month or two how I stand. Why is the simple present tense used (how things develop; how I stand) instead of simple future tense (how things will develop; how I will stand)?

Soumis par Lakshmi94216 le mar 18/08/2020 - 09:33

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Hi, In the following two sentences, could I use the simple present tense instead? 1) Her best performance to date was her third place at the World Junior Championships. 2) Penicillin was the forerunner of modern antibiotics.

Soumis par Jonathan R le mer 19/08/2020 - 11:15

En réponse à par Lakshmi94216

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Hi Lakshmi94216,

Yes! These could both be considered as general facts or truths, so the present simple works. But, I think using the past simple would probably be more common.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Why is the past simple the more preferred and common choice? Is it because the event did happen in the past, even though it is still true? Thanks teacher.

Hi Lakshmi94216,

Yes. We could understand these as general truths, but because both sentences refer explicitly to the past (Her best performance to date / the forerunner of modern ...), it would be usual to present them as past events.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Ahmad Aboud le dim 02/08/2020 - 09:49

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Would you please anyone explain to me why we use present tense in this sentence I get a text from Jennifer and it says, do you have a belt? Thank you

Hello Ahmad Aboud,

It might be correct to say 'get' in a specific context, but usually that would be 'get'. I'd need to see the full context to be able to make sense of it.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Linh Dao le sam 18/07/2020 - 20:01

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Hello, I really need help to clarify this. If I have a sentence: We're going to the restaurant tomorrow. Do you want to join us? Is it possible if I said "Will you want to join us?". I know it does not sound very natural using "will" here and it should be the present simple. But I don't know why? Thank you!

Soumis par Peter M. le dim 19/07/2020 - 09:14

En réponse à par Linh Dao

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Hello Linh Dao,

Want describes our feelings or desires, so it's normal to use the present tense in this context. You might use will if you are asking if they can come:

Do you want to come?

I want to, but I don't know if I will be able to.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Santhosh Reddy le ven 19/06/2020 - 13:21

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Hi, We use Present Simple to talk about 1. Something which is true in present. Examples: he is 19 yrs old. She is doctor. He is tall 2. Some thing which is always true Example: Human body contains 206 bones From above i understood if something is true in present the IS makes the sentence If some thing is always true then sentence forms with base form of a verb Is my understanding correct? If so, Below sentence also always true but they formed with IS It is a car. America is a country. That is tree Please clarify my doubts. Regards, Santhosh.

Soumis par Kirk le ven 19/06/2020 - 15:13

En réponse à par Santhosh Reddy

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Hello Santhosh

The verb 'contains' is not the base form of the verb -- 'contain' is the base form. Both 'contains' and 'is' are the third person singular form of the verb 'be'.

You can use most any verb in the present simple to express either something true in the present or something which is always true.

Hope this helps.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Miss Victoria le mar 19/05/2020 - 11:43

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Hello The questions with who often don't use do or does. However, Who does this umbrella belong to is correct. Please could you comment it?

Soumis par Peter M. le mer 20/05/2020 - 07:23

En réponse à par Miss Victoria

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Hello Miss Victoria,

Subject questions do not use an extra auxiliary verb like do or does. For example:

Who owns this umbrella?

(Paul owns this umbrella)

[a subject question asking about the subject of the verb own]

 

Object questions use an auxiliary verb with inversion:

Who does this umbrella belong to?

(This umbrella belongs to Paul)

[an object question asking about the object of the verb and preposition belong to]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team