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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Hi Debjyoti,

I'm not sure what part of the rule you do not understand. Affirmative sentences add -s in the third person:

He works in London.

Questions and negatives do not add -s (but use does in the third person)

Does he work* in London? (not 'works')

He doesn't work* in London. (not 'works')

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by VIcKtoRas on Sun, 22/05/2016 - 18:26

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Hey! We can use do or does only if there is "where, why and what"? What about when orr which or others?

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 23/05/2016 - 06:39

In reply to by VIcKtoRas

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Hello VicKtoRas,

The words given on the page are examples, not a full list. If you look at the sentence you will see that it says '...like...', showing that these are examples. Other question words can of course also be used.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tom on Sat, 21/05/2016 - 20:09

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Which situation that we can you To Do or To Be? Where does he live? ( using To Do for question) Where is he living ? ( Using To Be verb for question)

Hello Tom,

Where there is an auxiliary verb already, we use it for the question:

She is living in London. [is = the auxiliary verb]

Is she living in London?

They have got a car. [have = the auxiliary verb]

Have they got a car?

 

Where there is no auxiliary verb we use 'do':

He lives in London.

Where does he live?

I walked to the park.

Where did you walk?

 

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Syifazaka on Fri, 29/04/2016 - 01:56

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Hello. Could you explain more about the difference between She never plays football And She has never played football I'm also still confused with We fly to Paris next week And We're flying to Paris next week Thanks

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 29/04/2016 - 07:12

In reply to by Syifazaka

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Hello Syifazaka,

In the first pair of sentences, the first sentence has the present simple and the second sentence has the present perfect. The difference between these two tenses is discussed on their individual pages as well as on talking about the present

In the second pair of sentences, the first has the present simple and the second has the present continuous. In this case, these two tenses are actually talking about the future (despite their names).

Please take a look at the explanations on those pages – I think that will clarify the differences in meaning for you. If you still have questions, however, please feel free to ask us again. It'd be best if you explained to us what you understand or what you don't understand as specifically as possible so we can give you a better answer.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tom on Sat, 30/04/2016 - 20:14

In reply to by Syifazaka

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1/ She plays football ( use this to express general, simple present tense) She has never played football ( use this to express that in the past until now she has not played football) Your sentence: "She never plays football" ( incorrect form) 2/ We are going to fly to Paris next week ( Simple Future) . Use this when you are planning a trip) . Be careful using flying because flying is implied that the bird is flying. I rather using " We are going to go to Paris next week"

Hello Tom,

Thanks for your contribution! I just wanted to point out that 'She never plays football' is actually a correct form. I'm sure some people would agree that it's better to say 'go' rather than 'fly', but the truth is that many people say 'fly' there and there's no misunderstanding from that.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ramyar1234 on Tue, 26/04/2016 - 04:23

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Hello Peter, can we have further explanation about use of Simple Present. (e.g. what does it mean? Sequence activities (happen again again) and Official arrangement (Fixed in futures ) and out of this two option, what tense we can use? Regards

Hello Ramyar1234,

It's hard to comment in such abstract/general terms, but if you provide a concrete example - a sentence or a clear context - then we'll be happy to comment.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by yeshipe on Sat, 09/04/2016 - 03:40

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Hello! When we have to use Do, Does or Are, Is in the Present Simple?

Hello yeshipe,

This is explained in some detail on our question forms page. Note that on that page, I also recently answered a question that is very similar to yours. After you've read those two resources, if you have any specific questions, please let us know!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Adel Albalbase on Wed, 23/03/2016 - 12:11

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Hello, many thanks for your effort. can you please tell me the use for present simple in other ways or other express ? i can`t understand the meaning of ( true ) ? Regards

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 24/03/2016 - 09:03

In reply to by Adel Albalbase

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Hello Adel Albalbase,

'True' here refers to something that is always the case and does not change. For example, 'Light travels at almost 300,000 kilometres per second in a vaccuum' is a statement which is always true; the speed of light is constant.

If something is only true for a time, then we use a different form:

'The car is travelling at almost 60 miles per hour' (but this will change when it slows down).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hugong on Thu, 17/03/2016 - 13:33

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Hello, Just wondering with the above sentence 'I don't play the piano, but I play the guitar', can it be rewritten as 'I don't play the piano but guitar'? Do they tell the same? Do you have materials showing how to construct sentence with but/ than or where is the best resource to learn this kind of sentence? As I find it sometimes confused as to what should be put (ie noun/noun+verb/phrases/clauses) after the word but/than to give grammatically correct sentence just as the example above.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 18/03/2016 - 06:32

In reply to by Hugong

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Hello Hugong,

It is possible to miss out repeated phrases or elements in English sentences, but you need to include the full noun phrase:

I don't play the piano but the guitar.

'But' is a conjunction used to link clauses in order to make complex sentences. You can find information on this and other aspects of sentence construction in this part of our grammar section.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter, Thanks for the explanation. But just wondering can 'but' be used to link,except clauses, phrases and words as well? I came across a term called parallel structure when I did a research where it said that both linked parts must have the same sentence structure eg phrases and phrases as just above shown. Is it correct? So if a sentence say "I have brought everything, but I have forgotten to bring a toothpaste". If I want to shorten it does it become " I have brought everything but a toothpaste" and since "everything" is a noun, according to parallel structure, that the latter part should also be a noun ie "a toothpaste"?

Hi Hugong,

The structure is quite flexible in terms of what can be omitted:

I have brought everything, but I have forgotten to bring any toothpaste.

I have brought everything, but I have forgotten toothpaste.

I have brought everything, but not toothpaste.

I have brought everything but toothpaste. (a different use of 'but', meaning 'except for')

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter That's quite a lot of flexibility there. Thank you for the explanation.

Submitted by VarunKumar on Wed, 16/03/2016 - 08:24

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Sir In question Do Rita and Angela live in Manchester? why "Do" is used instead of "Does" ? Is Rita and Angela both are third person?

Hello Varun,

Rita and Angela are two people, so the subject is third person plural (not singular). Therefore 'do' is the appropriate auxiliary verb ('does' is only for third person singular).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ritesh46 on Wed, 24/02/2016 - 10:26

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Hello sir, i am little confused about this page. i want to know, the study material available on this page is applicable for present tense (present simple, present continuous and present perfect and perfect continuous.) or only for present simple. in the beginning of this page it is write ''we use present tense to talk about ''. in example 1- I'm nineteen year old. example 2- I'm a student. in both example i hope it is present continuous from. Thank.

Hello ritesh46,

The material on this page deals with the present simple, not other forms. The examples you give are not present continuous, but present simple (of the verb 'to be'). You can find pages on each of the other forms in the verbs part of the grammar section.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Inas Elshinnawy on Sun, 14/02/2016 - 22:42

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Hi, all. It's written at the beginning of this page that the present simple is the base form of the verb.Does it mean that it is considered infinitive? If yes, how ? the infinitive form doesn't show a tense or a subject, right?

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 15/02/2016 - 09:05

In reply to by Inas Elshinnawy

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Hello Inas Elshinnaway,

For regular verbs the base form and the infinitive form (without 'to') have the same form in terms of spelling. However, please note the second sentence at the top of the page:

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.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Peter. Thank you for your reply. So, the present simple (except with the third person singular) is identical to the the infinitive only in spelling , but I can't label the present simple in this case as infinitive because it shows tense?? Are they similar or the same thing?? Thanks, Inas

Hello Inas,

The present simple and infinitive are used in different ways, even though they look the same. It's useful to understand when, for example, 'speak' is being used as a present simple form and when it's being used as an infinitive, even though they look exactly the same, because in that way you can have a better understanding of the structure of the sentence.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lamastry on Sat, 10/10/2015 - 05:04

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Hello According to how we use the present tense eg.for habits which category does this sentence fall into, "She wants to give me my cheque."

Hello Lamastry,

This is something which is true in the present. 'Want' is a verb which does not occur in continuous forms in general as it is a verb expressing thoughts and feelings.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sergiumarinescu on Tue, 06/10/2015 - 13:12

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These exercises are very useful !

Submitted by Lucifer7 on Thu, 24/09/2015 - 11:25

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Hello! In story, sport commentary, demonstrations or when we said jokes, must we use only Present Simple?

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 25/09/2015 - 13:47

In reply to by Lucifer7

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Hello Lucifer7,

No, you can also use the present continuous or use the narrative tenses (e.g. past simple, past continuous, past perfect).

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by akatsuki on Mon, 31/08/2015 - 10:40

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I'm confused by this sentence "it's taking me time to get my fitnesss up". Is this another way of saying "I'm taking time to get my fitness up"? The present continuous is used here to indicate temporary action. Whereas if the present simple is used it will indicate the person's habit. Do you think I'm right, sir?

Submitted by KimToi on Wed, 19/08/2015 - 04:42

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Dear teacher! Why dont you show all type of words in the present simple when they go with different subjects in this lesson. For example: He works ( He/she/it + W(s) or He cries ( V+ies) I work ( you/ I/we) + V (infinitve)

Hello KimToi,

There is only one inflection in the present simple in English, as the page states:

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.

 

There is no need to list all of the forms which are identical (I/you/we/you/they) when it is simpler to note the one which is different.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rvadlamani on Wed, 10/06/2015 - 03:46

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Hello there, I always wondered which of the below two sentences is correct - 'Mahatma Gandhi was the father of Nation' or 'Mahatma Gandhi is the father of nation'. After some research on the internet, I found one example of a similar kind (if 'is' or 'was' should be used for something that happened in the past). The example sentenced used is : 'She is / was married'. The explanation given there is - " 'married' is more the status of the subject after the action of marrying. if it is still true that she is married, then the present tense should be used. Hence, the right usage for this context would be 'She is married'. however, if she is no longer married, you can use 'she was married'. hence, concluding that, though the action of marrying happened in the past, if she is still married, the right usage would be 'she is married', but not 'she was married'. It made sense and I applied it to my original question. I would use 'Mahatma Gandhi is the father of Nation' because the complement 'father of nation' is still true even today thought Mahatma Gandhi passed away long time ago. Now apply the same concept to the sentence below : "Indira Gandhi is / was the foremost politician of her times'. As the complement 'foremost politician of her times' is still true to day, I would be inclined to say that the right usage is - 'Indira Gandhi is the foremost politician of her times'. Can you please confirm if my understanding and the reasoning behind it is correct? Regards, Ram.

Hello Ram,

The present simple can be used in the way you've used it to speak about Mahatma Gandhi as the father of a nation. The past simple could be also be used, however – choosing one or the other depends on the perspective you want to take. The past simple makes more sense in the sentence about Indira Gandhi, as you are speaking about a specific past time ('of her times') rather than current times.

Also, please note that 'to be married' is a phrase used to indicate someone's marital status, not to talk about the time of their marriage. In this case, 'married' is an adjective. 'to get married', in contrast, is generally used to talk about the action of marrying, e.g. 'I got married in Las Vegas'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Karzan_Camus on Sun, 03/05/2015 - 19:26

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Hello teachers. I wonder if this sentence correct? If you could tell me the form of the tense, please? This is the sentence (She never has Chines food)

Hello Karzan_Camus,

The sentence is fine, apart from the misspelling of 'Chinese'.

It is a normal setence in the present simple with the verb 'have' and an adverb of frequency ('never').

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nkmg on Sat, 28/03/2015 - 18:25

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Hi sir : I want ask about use present continuous for something which is happening before and after a given time: At eight o'clock we are usually having breakfast. isn't habit , something that happens again and again in the present we should say At eight o'clock we usually have breakfast

Hello nkmg,

Both the present simple and present continuous are correct in these sentences. They are both talking about the same event, but look at it from different perspectives. When you use the present simple, you are simply talking about a habit, and this is probably the most commonly used form for this kind of statement.

The present continuous can be used, as in the example, when you're speaking not about a habit, but a particular point in time - in this case, 8:00 (not 8:05 or 7:57, but 8:00). Imagine if you looked at a video recording of this family's kitchen that is made every morning. If you compared what was happening at 8 am every day, you'd find the family in the middle of eating at that time. That is the action they are performing at 8:00 began before that time, and continued afterwards.

This is just one example of the kind of perspective that using the present continuous can imply here. I hope it helps clarify it for you.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ismail Nassef on Sat, 28/03/2015 - 15:42

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Dear Sir, could you tell me how to find out the difference between present tense that always true and the present tense which happens again and again particularly with "never" Thanks

Submitted by maroona on Tue, 24/03/2015 - 00:26

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Dear LearnEnglish Team, Would you mind to tell me about the right form for "always" usage that followed by v1if the Subject is she/he/it? Is it the same form as will/can +v1? ● She works 1. She can work.(Correct) 2. She will work. (Correct) 3. She always work. ( ? ) 4. She always works. ( ? ) Thank you.

Hi maroona,

Sentence 3 is incorrect and sentence 4 is correct. Using an adverb such as 'always' doesn't change the ending on the verb.

Does that answer your question?

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rishi1234567 on Wed, 04/02/2015 - 17:54

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Dear Sir, Can you put some more examples of simple present, which shows things are true in present. I have one more confusion...People says,''the report is not completed'' (when they don't complete their report which i need ) is it correct to use present simple...rather than present perfect? Thanking you for continual support.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 05/02/2015 - 08:19

In reply to by rishi1234567

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Hello rishi1234567,

Your example is in fact present simple, not present perfect: '...is not completed' is an example of a present simple passive [be + past participle].

Both present simple (telling us about the report's status now) and present perfect (telling us about the immediate past of the report and it's result now) would be correct:

The report is not completed. [present simple passive]

The report has not been completed. [present perfect simple passive]

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Many Thanks again!!! But, if i say same sentence in active voice, it will be difficult to understand...pl correct me if I am wrong. "The Report is not completed by me,Sir"(Simple present Passive Voice) " I don't complete the report,Sir.(This sentence looks Habitual kind of, or is it my perception to this active voice?)

Hello rishi1234567,

My previous answer was about which form was correct grammatically. However, the meaning is not the same and which meaning you need depends on what you want to say.

'The report is not completed by me' tells us that this is not your job - someone else does this, not you.

'I've not completed the report' tells us that it is your job, but that you have not done it yet for some reason (time, other duties, a lack of information, laziness...).

'The report hasn't been completed' does not tell us who should or will complete it; it only tells us that it is not yet finished.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team