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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Submitted by Tim Leahm on Thu, 09/11/2017 - 16:08

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Hi, i am just struggling to understand when to use s in the third person present simple and when not to use s. i always hear people saying "may the Lord bless you" why not " may the Lord blesses you"? thanks Tim

Hello Tim,

We use the -s ending in the present simple for the third-person, as you say. In your example the word 'bless' is not present simple but rather is the base form (infinitive without to) as it follows a modal auxiliary verb ('may'). Modal auxiliaries are not followed by present simple forms, which is why we say 'I may be late' not 'I may am late'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by aseel aftab on Sun, 05/11/2017 - 14:20

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hello sir present simple is used for general facts or truths so if i say "I know him for a long time" i have mentioned time but it is a fact is it correct to state facts with time or i have to say that "I have known him for a long time"

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 06/11/2017 - 07:47

In reply to by aseel aftab

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Hello aseel aftab,

The present perfect is needed here if you have an unfinished time reference like 'for a long time'. We would use the present simple without any time reference (making it a general and timeless statement) so you can say either of the following:

I know him.

I've known him for a long time.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tim Leahm on Mon, 23/10/2017 - 18:48

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Hi, do you give any certificate? i know it is not a question to ask here, but i checked your FQ i did not get an answer

Hi Tim,

LearnEnglish itself is not a course but rather a collection of self-study materials which we provide free of charge for our users and so we do not provide certificates. The British council provides certificates for students who complete a British Council course. To learn more about the British Council in your country you can visit this page. You can also take an external examination such as IELTS to gain certification if this is needed or helpful for you in terms of your career or further studies.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tim Leahm on Mon, 23/10/2017 - 16:28

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Hi, is there any difference between this two sentences: Is Gideon coming with us?, Does Gideon coming with us? what is the best sentence and why

Hello Tim,

The first sentence is fine and asks about a particular trip. The second sentence, however, is incorrect. You could ask 'Does Gideon come with us?' and this would be a question not about one time but about what is normal or typical.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tim Leahm on Tue, 24/10/2017 - 16:17

In reply to by Peter M.

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Hi Peter, thanks for your helpful answers and i really appreciate. since i started to learn your courses i am improving in my English. Now, i am a bit confused, because i studied the present simple, you said we use do and does to ask questions but what make the first sentence correct? Is Gideon coming with us? why we use is and not does? Thanks Tim

Hello again Tim,

In 'Is Gideon coming with us?', the verb is in the present continuous. In 'Does Gideon come with us?' is present simple.

'do' and 'does' are only used in the present simple, not in the present continuous. The present continuous uses a form of the verb 'be' ('is', 'am' or 'are') instead.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nitinsharma on Thu, 02/11/2017 - 08:35

In reply to by Peter M.

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Hi Peter, To ask a questions in simple present tense to a third person (She/He/It) we use Does. We also add -S to the base verb when we refer to third person (She/He/It) Now based on the above mentioned two rules i have question to you, which is: Why have you not added the -S to base verb come? "Does Gideon Comes with us?"

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 03/11/2017 - 06:49

In reply to by nitinsharma

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Hi nitinsharma,

We add -s to the base form with the third person, as you say, but on in affirmative sentences. In questions and negatives it is the auxiliary which is marked for third person:

Gideon comes with us. (affirmative)

Does Gideon come with us. (question)

Gideon doesn't come with us. (negative)

Only one part of the verb form is marked for third person. In affirmative sentences it is the main verb and in questions and negatives it is the auxiliary verb.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Peter I would like to ask why you used 'the' before 'third' in your first writing, but in the second, you use 'third' without 'the'. You sentence: We add -s to the base form with the third person, ... ...it is the auxiliary which is marked for third person... Thanks for your answer.

Hello knownman,

'...with the third person' means 'with the third person form', so the definite article is used because we are speaking about a specific form.

 

'...marked for third person' uses third person as an abstract concept, just as we might say 'marked for gender' or 'marked for plurality'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tim Leahm on Sun, 22/10/2017 - 20:15

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Hi. is there a difference between these sentences and what is the correct sentence? The train leaves at 1945 this evening, The train will leave at 1945 this evening, the train is leaving at 1945 this evening

Hello Tim,

The differences between these forms is explained on our talking about the future page. Please take a look and then if you have any specific questions about the topic, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zayed Haq on Thu, 05/10/2017 - 10:36

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Hello, what kind of present simple is used in this sentence, ''So finally.. Helen proves to be a better dancer''? This sentence doesn't seem to have the ''always true'' form.

Hello Zayed Haq,

The best way to understand this is to contrast it with an alternative form - the present continuous.

Compare these two alternatives, both of which are grammatically correct.

 

Helen is proving to be a better dancer.

Helen proves to be a better dancer.

 

In the first sentence the action is not completed and is stil in progress; we can see that Helen is on the way to proving without any argument that she is better but there is still a possibility that she will not do this and the other person will win the title of 'better dancer'.

In the second sentence there is no longer any discussion. Helen has achieved her goal and there is no argument that she is the better dancer.

We use the present simple in this way (rather than, for example, the present perfect) when we are telling a story or a sequence of events. It is quite common, especially after time references such as 'finally', 'in the end', 'it turns out that' and so on.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by syedarslan619 on Tue, 26/09/2017 - 23:09

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What is the difference between Present simple and Simple Present is it the same thing? little bit confusion kindly clear this for me

Hello syedarslan619,

Yes, they are the same. Please note that, with a few exceptions, we don't generally allow links to other sites.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Svitlana1992 on Wed, 30/08/2017 - 15:31

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I'm not talking to Nick at the moment because he was rude to me yesterday. In the first part of the sentence I should use Present Continuous or Present Perfect?

Hello Svitlana1992,

It would unusual to use the present perfect with the adverbial phrase 'at the moment' -- the present continuous is your best choice here. 'at the moment' can mean right now and it can also mean 'these days'. In both cases, the present continuous is the most likely choice.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Svitlana1992 on Wed, 30/08/2017 - 06:45

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Be going to and will What's the difference?

Submitted by amrita_enakshi on Tue, 29/08/2017 - 16:11

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Thank you sir.

Submitted by amrita_enakshi on Sun, 27/08/2017 - 08:49

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Hello sir, do both the sentences mean the same and are correct? 1. Due to this flood the mud houses are broken and also the road is damaged. 2. Due to this flood the mud houses have been broken and also the road has been damaged. Depending on sense can PRESENT SIMPLE and PRESENT PERFECT be used interchangeably?

Hello amrita,

'break' is an ergative verb so both 1 and 2 are correct. 1 is probably more common unless you want to make it clear that someone broke the houses.

If you're reporting something that has happened recently, i.e. as a news item, the present perfect would be better.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Daniel chen on Wed, 23/08/2017 - 17:19

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Hi Peter I have a question for you about 3rd person tense. My teacher taught us he, she, it, name = verb+s e.g. he talks. But when I search online or other grammar books, they never mention 'name' as in The Purple Team plays well or The Chen Family wins. Is my teacher wrong? If not, why isn't this rule explained more?

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 23/08/2017 - 19:45

In reply to by Daniel chen

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Hello Daniel chen,

Your teacher is right. It's also true that it's a little more complex, but your teacher was probably trying to keep things simple.

Sometimes, and especially in British English, we use a plural verb with a singular name. For example, we can say 'The BBC have produced a new series'. 'The BBC' is the name of a large organisation and is grammatically singular, but since it is made up of many people, we often use a plural verb with it. In American English it would be strange to say this -- they would say 'The BBC has produced ...'. You could also say it this way in Britain, but it's quite common to say 'have' instead.

I hope that clarifies this for you, but if not, please don't hesitate to ask us again.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nadarali1996 on Wed, 09/08/2017 - 20:27

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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

Submitted by Timothy555 on Sat, 05/08/2017 - 02:22

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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

Submitted by Timothy555 on Sat, 05/08/2017 - 10:39

In reply to by Peter M.

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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

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 10/08/2017 - 05:30

In reply to by Timothy555

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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

Submitted by Andrzej93 on Sat, 29/07/2017 - 20:51

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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

Submitted by Anabel15 on Sun, 16/07/2017 - 17:42

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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

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 17/07/2017 - 06:41

In reply to by Anabel15

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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

Submitted by WhiteCollar on Fri, 14/07/2017 - 15:16

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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.

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 15/07/2017 - 06:08

In reply to by WhiteCollar

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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

Submitted by MCWSL on Sun, 21/05/2017 - 20:55

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Hello, I heard this conversation today and was wondering about present simple use here: (John to Jack on a phone) ''Ask him if he is mister Smith'' (Jack to Brian) ''Are you mister Smith?'' (Brian to Jack) ''Yes, I am.'' (Jack to John on the phone)''He says he is.'' Why isn't ''said'' used there? Could it mean as present perfect is used when something's just happened and the time gone is very little? Thank you.

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 22/05/2017 - 06:59

In reply to by MCWSL

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Hello MCWSL,

You're right in thinking that a past simple form is common in reported speech. In this case, as you rightly suspect, what's being reported has literally just happened and so the present simple is used. It might help to think of the conversation as still happening -- it seems it may even continue, i.e. John may ask Mr Smith another question through Jack, i.e. this present moment is still happening.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aoll212 on Sat, 15/04/2017 - 04:45

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Hello, I want to know if this is still a present simple tense Do you ever learn from your mistakes? Thank you.

Submitted by loida on Fri, 24/02/2017 - 18:34

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is any here who is talking with me and correct my grammer

Submitted by loida on Fri, 24/02/2017 - 18:33

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hi sir iam aggravaute from the narrow minded people iam confuse about this sentence is it correct