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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Soumis par melvinthio le ven 05/08/2022 - 12:56

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Hi Jonathan,
I'd like to ask for your favour on how to make questions asking about the ordinal rank or position. For example, how should we ask in order to get the following answers :
[1] I'm the third son in my family.
[2] Mr. Obama was the 44th president of the USA.

Your reply would be highly appreciated.
Best regards,

Hello melvinthio,

As far as I know, there's no convenient way to do this. For families, people tend to say something like 'Are you the oldest?' (or 'youngest' or 'middle child'), or you could say 'Which child are you? The first?' (or 'oldest') or something similar. You could also say 'What number child are you?', but I think one of the other questions I suggested is more common.

With other situations, such as US presidents, I think the most common way to ask is 'What number president was Lincoln?', but I'm sure there are other possibilities.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par melvinthio le mer 27/07/2022 - 07:22

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Hi Jonathan,
I've just found this page, so I post again my questions I raised a days ago.
Is the present or the past correct for the following sentences? Or can both be used interchangeably?

[1] Prof. Smith is a famous physicist. He (is/was) a graduate of Yale university.

[2] John is a successful entrepreneur. He (is/was) the founder of his company.

I'd appreciate your help to give me a clear explanation.

Best regards,

Hi melvinthio,

I don't think either form is wrong here but the past tense would be more appropriate if something were no longer true - i.e if Prof. Smith had died or if John had left his company (so it would no longer be his company). Since there is no indication that either of these is the case I would use the present tense.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,
Thanks so much for your explanation.
To avoid a misunderstanding, I'd like to confirm that we can also use the past tense (besides the present tense) if Prof. Smith is still alive and John is still working at his company. Is my understanding right?

The sentences would then read:
[1] Prof. Smith is a famous physicist. He was a graduate of Yale Univ.

[2] John is a successful entrepreneur. He was the founder of his company.

Your explanation would be highly appreciated.

Best regards,

Hi again melvinthio,

Yes, that's right, though it may be confusing for the listener. For example:

We drove to Italy for our holiday because we had a dog.

I didn't know you used to have a dog.

Yeah. Actually, he's still with us but he's getting old now,

Here the past tense is used (we had) and it is correct but leads to confusion because the listener does not know if the speaker still has a dog.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Faii le lun 30/05/2022 - 06:51

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We use present simple when we give instruction or directions. But is it possible to use other tenses for them ?

Hello Faii,

Present simple or imperative forms are the most common, I think, but other forms are possible such as modal verbs (should, need, must, have to etc).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Faii le lun 30/05/2022 - 06:48

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Can we use other tenses(present perfect,past indefinite)in this following example?
"It's OK.i forgive you "
In my textbook it says ,"I forgive,I promise,I insist,I agree" etc these type of words are normally used in present simple but they didn't clear can we use it in other tenses or not

Hello Faii,

It's possible to use all of those verbs in other tenses, but of course which tense is needed depends on the situation and intended meaning. It's unusual, though not completely impossible, to use these verbs in a continuous form.

In the example you give, when the speaker appears to be speaking about the present, then the present simple is the best form.

But if I'm speaking about my friend forgiving me in the past for something I did in the past, then a past form would be needed: 'He forgave me for what I did'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par lRaisa le jeu 19/05/2022 - 10:22

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Hi,
In the second line of text in a story, you wrote HAS LOST.
Does it mean I can use present perfect as well in stories? and Present Perfect Continuous?
In additionally, at the end of summarising a book you wrote HAS BEEN MURDERED so does it mean we can use present tenses of passive voice?

Hi lRaisa,

Yes to all the questions, if the story is being told in the present (i.e., using present simple for the main narrative events). 

On the other hand, if the story is told using past simple for the main events, then the timeframe for the story is the past, so using the present simple and present perfect would be unusual.

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi again,
I'd like to ask about something else. Should I use present tenses in formal spoken/written English? For instance, my teacher would ask about creating a story and I used Present tenses. The same about summarising something. is it acceptable?

Hi lRaisa,

Telling a story in present tenses is typically done in speaking, not writing, and is usually considered informal in style. In formal speaking and writing, I would use past tenses.

For summarising a book (etc.) using present tenses, this is done in speaking and writing, and is neutral in style. Plot summaries on Wikipedia, for example, are often written using present tenses. So, I would say that it is acceptable, unless your teacher expects you to use a very formal and literary style. It would be best to check exactly how formal the teacher expects you to be in your speaking/writing.

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par alyssa_rom le mer 20/04/2022 - 20:31

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hi! how would you explain the use of present simple in this sentence: “i can’t talk right now, i’m busy”? technically the “right now” part should indicate the present continuous tense. also i couldn’t find the answer in the non-continuous verbs list either, it doesn’t seem to fit.
thanks in advance!

Hello alyssa_rom,

Your sentence has a modal verb (can) followed by the bare infinitive. Modal verbs do not have continuous forms so only this form is possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

Hello Sir,
I have a question – In the following sentence is there any error in
'made it clear' → 'made clear'
OR
'poses' → 'pose ' ( as CLIMATE CHANGE and Continued Ecosystem Degradation two nouns are used
so we should not add 's/es' in the main verb

Please make it clear

Hello Sir,
I have a question – In the following sentence is there any error in
'made it clear' → 'made clear'
OR
'poses' → 'pose ' ( as CLIMATE CHANGE and Continued Ecosystem Degradation two nouns are used
so we should not add 's/es' in the main verb

Please make it clear
Sorry sir,
The sentence is:
Science has made it clear the adverse impacts that climate change and continued ecosystem degradation poses for the physical world.

Hello abhay,

It's not correct to say 'made it clear' in this sentence; instead, as I think you suggest, you should say just 'make clear'. This is because the object of 'make clear' is 'the adverse impacts', including the clause after it. Many writers avoid using 'make clear' when its object is very long and use 'clarify' instead. 'has clarified' would work well in your sentence, but I also think it's clear enough with 'has made clear'.

Yes, 'poses' should be changed to 'pose' since it has two subjects.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I am sorry sir I can't understand what you are trying to say.
Is the right sentence is :

Science MAKES it clear the adverse impacts that climate change and continued ecosystem degradation POSE for the physical world.

But sir it seems it'll convey a wrong meaning.
Please clarify as it is a question of a government exam :

Select in which part of the question there is an error.

Question: Science has made it clear the adverse impacts that climate/ change and continued ecosystem/ degradation poses for the physical world./ No error

Answer key says — “poses threat to the physical world”

My confusion is
Confusion — I can't understand the meaning of the first part of the sentence.

In my opinion the answer key is wrong.
Please clarify.
Thank you.

Hello abhay,

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I don't understand very well, either. I don't understand what the slashes (/) in the question refer to, and I don't understand what the task is -- i.e. what you as the person taking the exam have to do.

The following sentences are not grammatically correct:

Science MAKES it clear the adverse impacts that climate change and continued ecosystem degradation POSE for the physical world.
Science has made it clear the adverse impacts that climate/ change and continued ecosystem/ degradation poses for the physical world.

The following sentence is grammatically correct:

Science has made clear the adverse impacts that climate change and continued ecosystem degradation pose for the physical world.

'Science' is the subject; 'had made clear' is the verb phrase; 'the adverse impacts' is the object; 'that climate change and continued ecosystem degradation pose for the physical world' is a relative clause whose antecedent is the object 'the adverse impacts'. This sentence is slightly awkward because a verb phrase such as 'to make clear' normally has a shorter object, but it is grammatically correct.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,
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