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What Is Simple Present Tense? | Examples, Use & Exercises

Verbs updated on  January 10, 2024 6 min read
We use the simple present tense for verbs when we want to describe regularly occurring actions, states that don’t change, general truths, and scheduled events.

Usually, the simple present tense is the same as the verb’s base (aka infinitive) form (e.g., “call”). For sentences using the third person singular (e.g., “he,” “she,” and “it”), add “-s” to the end of the verb (e.g., “I run,” “she runs”).

Simple present tense forms
Affirmative Negative Interrogative
I dance I don’t dance Do I dance?
You dance (singular) You don’t dance (singular) Do you dance? (singular)
He/she/it dances He/she/it doesn’t dance Does he/she/it dance?
We dance We don’t dance Do we dance?
You dance (plural) You don’t dance (plural) Do you dance? (plural)
They dance They don’t dance Do they dance?

How to use the simple present

The simple present tense has a few uses:

  • To talk about things that happen regularly, such as habits.
  • To describe circumstances or states that are unchanging.
  • To state facts and general truths that don’t change.
  • To talk about scheduled events in the future.


Examples: Simple present tense
Hank paints watercolor landscapes every weekend.
I have two brothers and a sister.
Tides rise and fall due to the gravitational pull of the moon.
The party starts at 8 p.m.

Note
You can add adverbs of frequency (e.g., “always,” “daily”) to sentences using simple present verbs to indicate how often something happens (e.g., “she sometimes works late,” “we never exercise”).

Forming the third person singular

Most of the time, the simple present tense is the same as the verb’s infinitive (aka base) form.

The third person singular is used when the subject is neither the speaker nor the person being addressed and is a singular noun or pronoun (e.g., “he,” “she,” “it”).

To form the third person singular in the simple present tense, “-s” is usually added to the end of the verb, although the verb’s spelling can change in a couple of other ways based on the ending of the base form.



Base form ending Third person singular ending Example
-ch Add “-es” snatch → snatches
-o go → goes
-sh smash → smashes
-ss pass → passes
-x fix → fixes
-z fizz → fizzes
consonant + y Remove “y” and add “-ies” try → tries
All other endings Add “-s” love → loves

play → plays

Note
“They” still functions as a plural pronoun even when it refers to a singular subject.

The engineer attends, and they fixes the issue.
The engineer attends, and they fix the issue.

You can use the QuillBot Grammar Checker to check for mistakes like this.

Irregular verb “be”

“Be” is a stative verb and linking verb and is the most irregular verb in English. It has three simple present tense forms, and the correct one to use depends on the subject.


Subject Present simple affirmative verb
I am
You (singular) are
He/she/it is
We are
You (plural) are
They are

Note
Other than “be,” “have” is the only verb with an irregular third person singular form: “has.”

I have a new job.
Aishah has three guinea pigs.

Present simple and future simple

The future simple tense is formed by adding “will” before the infinitive form of the verb. The verb stays the same regardless of the subject (e.g., “I will run,” “she will run”).

The future simple is used to talk about things that haven’t happened yet but are almost certain to happen.

Sentences using the future simple tense often feature a subordinating conjunction that introduces a dependent clause using the present simple tense.


Examples: Present simple and future simple
Before we watch the movie, I will make popcorn.
I will call you as soon as I hear from her.

Present simple vs present continuous

The present simple describes actions that happen regularly, states that don’t change, and unchanging truths. The present continuous (aka the present progressive), on the other hand, is used for an action that is happening in the present but is temporary.


Examples: Present simple vs present continuous
Penny plays basketball every Monday and Thursday. [a regularly occurring action]
Penny is playing basketball now. [a temporary action]

Note
Stative verbs (e.g., “be,” “believe,” “love”) usually can’t be used in continuous tenses even when they are describing something temporary.

This burger tastes delicious.
This burger is tasting delicious.

Exceptions include the stative verbs “feel” (e.g., “I’m feeling great”) and “look” (e.g., “it’s looking good”)—it’s common for these to be in continuous tenses. However, stative verbs should almost always be in the simple or perfect tenses.

How to form negatives

To form a negative present simple statement, add “do not” (or the contraction “don’t”) after the subject and before the base form of the verb.

For the third person singular, “do” changes its form rather than the main verb. This means “do not/don’t” becomes “does not/doesn’t” and the main verb does not take an “-s.”

Examples: Negative simple present sentences
You don’t have a car.
My brother doesn’t eat meat.

For the stative verb “be,” add “notafter the verb (for all subjects).

Examples: Negative form of the verb “be”
I am not satisfied with my results.
My parents are not retired.
Raheem is not here at the moment.

Note
“Not” comes after the verb for forms of “be,” but other verbs should not be negated in the same way. For all other verbs, “do not/does not” should come before the verb.

Lizzy likes not to run.
Lizzy doesn’t like to run.

How to form questions

To form a yes or no question in the simple present tense, use the base form of the verb and add “do” before the subject.

For a third person singular subject, “do” changes its form rather than the main verb. This means “do” becomes “does” and the main verb does not take an “-s.”

Examples: Simple present tense questions
Do you travel a lot?
Does Saoirse play the piano?

For the stative verb “be,” place the verb before the subject.

Examples: Present simple interrogative form of the verb “be”
Am I your best friend?
Are they busy?
Is she a student?

You can add an interrogative pronoun or an interrogative adverb (e.g., “why,” “who,” “how”) before “do/does” or “am/is/are” to ask more detailed questions in the simple present tense.

Examples: Simple present questions with interrogative pronouns and adverbs
Where do you play paintball?
When does Diego finish work?
Why is Lana angry?

Note
Questions about regular actions or unchanging states can be formed in other ways. For example, you can use “who” before a verb in the third person singular form to ask who carries out a particular repeated action (e.g., “who feeds the cats?”).

How to form the passive voice

In the active voice, the subject performs the action described by the verb (e.g., “many people watch football”). In the passive voice, the subject receives the action (e.g., “football is watched by many people”).

To form a present simple sentence in the passive voice, follow the subject with a simple present form of the auxiliary verbbe,” and use the past participle of the main verb.

Examples: Past simple passive sentences
The meeting is scheduled for this Friday afternoon.
The survey responses are collated by the research assistants.
I am driven to school by my uncle.

Present simple exercises

Test your understanding of the present simple and present continuous with these exercise questions.


Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Verbs

Nouns

Rhetoric

Present participle

Concrete noun

Oxymoron

Linking verb

Common noun

Double entendre

Auxiliary verb

Abstract noun

Sibilance

Past progressive tense

Proper noun

Cliché

Modal verb

Appositive

Paraprosdokian


Frequently asked questions about the simple present tense

What is the simple present form of “be”?

“Be” is a stative verb and linking verb and is the most irregular verb in English. It has three simple present tense forms: “am,” “is,” and “are.”

“Am” is used for a first person subject (e.g., “I am Spanish”).

“Are” is used for plural subjects (e.g., “we are Spanish”) and for both singular and plural second person subjects (e.g., “you are Spanish”).

“Is” is used for a third person singular subject (e.g., “he/she/it is Spanish”).

What is the “-ing” form of a verb?

The “-ing” form of a verb is also known as the present participle.

The present participle has a few uses:

  • It’s used in continuous tenses, such as the present continuous (e.g., “he is jumping for joy”).
  • It can be used as an adjective to modify a noun (e.g., “the jumping man”).
  • It’s used in participial phrases—phrases that start with a participle and modify a noun or pronoun (e.g., “jumping for joy, he laughed and cheered”).

The “-ing” form of a verb can also function as a noun. In this case, it is a gerund rather than the present participle (e.g., “jumping can be difficult for some people”).

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Sophie Shores

Sophie has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Publishing, and a passion for great writing. She’s taught English overseas and has experience editing both business and academic writing.

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