Present Simple for Beginners

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The present simple is used to speak about what we do every day. In other words, use the present simple to describe what you usually do. Here are some examples:

I often sleep late on Saturdays.
She usually takes the bus to work.
They study math on Mondays and Fridays.
The present simple is also used to speak about facts and beliefs.
She doesn’t believe in UFOs.
The bag costs $50.
Do you like to play golf?

The present simple is different than the present continuous. In the present continuous, you are speaking about what is happening at the specific moment in time.

I usually drive to work. = I drive to work almost every day.
I’m driving to work. = I’m doing it right now at the moment of speaking.

There are other uses for these two forms, but let’s keep it simple for now. Here is the present simple explained:

Structure

The positive form is easy. Just use the verb – that’s it! With he, she, and it, add an ‘s’ to the verb.

I eat lunch at noon.
You play tennis at noon.
He walks to school every day.
She watches TV in the evening.
It sleeps under the couch.
We study English at school
They eat lunch at noon.

The negative form uses the helping verb ‘don’t’ (do not) or ‘doesn’t' (does not) for he, she, and it.

I don’t leave work early on Mondays.
You don’t like to watch TV.
He doesn’t understand the question.
She doesn’t ride a bike.
It doesn't leave at noon.
We don’t have any money.
They don't leave at noon.

Conjugate the helping verb 'do' or ‘does’ for he, she and it. Follow this with the subject, and the verb in questions.

Do I work in this company?
Do you get up early?
Do we often drive to work?
Do they understand French?
Does he like to watch TV?
Does she believe in ghosts?
Does it leave at noon?

Read the following interview using the simple present tense.

Mark: Hello, Can I ask you some questions for an interview?
Jennifer: Yes, I can answer some questions.
Mark: Thank you for taking the time. Now, first question: What do you do?
Jennifer: I work in a library. I'm a librarian.
Mark: Are you married?
Jennifer: Yes, I am.
Mark: What does your husband do?
Jennifer: He works as a policeman.
Mark: Do you usually have dinner together?
Jennifer: Yes, we do.
Mark: How often does your husband exercise?
Jennifer: He sometimes exercises four times a week. But, he usually exercises only twice a week.
Mark: Where do you like going on holiday?
Jennifer: We rarely go on holiday. However, we like going to the mountains if we can.
Mark: What type of books do you read?
Jennifer: I often read horror stories.
Mark: Thank you very much for answering my questions.
Jennifer: You're welcome!

Here are examples of the present simple used in different situations:

Everyday facts

Where do you work?
The store opens at 9 o'clock.
She lives in New York.

Permanent or long-lasting situations

I study Russian.
The school offers free tutoring.
They belong to Peter.

Regular habits and daily routines

I usually get up at 7 o'clock.
She doesn't often go to the cinema.
When do they usually have lunch?

Facts

The Earth revolves around the Sun.
What does 'strange' mean?
Water doesn't boil at 20°.

Feelings

I love walking around late at night during the summer.
She hates flying!
What do you like? I don't want to live in Texas.

Opinions and states of mind

He doesn't agree with you.
I think he is a wonderful student.
What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Timetables and schedules

The plane leaves at 4 p.m.
When do courses begin this semester?
The train doesn't arrive until 10.35.

Common present time expressions include: usually, always, often, sometimes, on Saturdays, on weekends, rarely, on occasion, never, seldom

Write the questions for the following answers.

  1. I usually get up at seven o'clock.
  2. He often goes to the cinema twice a week.
  3. They live in Chicago.
  4. She is an accountant.
  5. Yes, they have a car.

Answers

  1. When do you get up?
  1. How often does he go to the cinema?
  2. Where do they live?
  3. What does she do?
  4. Do they have a car?

Write some more questions and ask a friend!