In this article, we’ll break down the present simple tense, along with examples in every form. We’ve included several tables for you to see all the main rules at a glance.
Need a refresher on what present simple means? See our verb tenses post for a full breakdown of every verb tense with explanations and examples.
Forming the Present Simple Tense (with Tables)
Quick Reference Table: The Present Simple Tense in All forms
V → Root Verb
Vs/Ves → Present Simple form for most verbs
Form present simple tense sentences by using the actual root of the word or by adding -s or -es to the third-person singular form.
**Tables use the verb ‘call’ as an example**
There are several verbs where you will add -es instead of just -s to the end. Typically, these verbs end in ch, sh, o, th, ss, z, or gh.
Making It Negative
To make a present simple verb negative, use this formula: Do/Does + not + Root Form of Verb. You can also use the contraction of Do not or Does not (Don’t or doesn’t) instead.
Asking a Question
To ask a question in the present simple, use the formula: Do/Does + subject + Root form of Verb.
The Verb ‘To Be’ in Present Simple Form
‘To be’ is an irregular verb and has its own form for the present simple tense.
In present simple, as well as other verb tenses, you will consistently see ‘to be’ used in a contracted form as it is the most used verb in the English language.
The rules for using ‘to be’ in negative and question form remain the same (scroll up to the first table in this article). Be aware that negative contractions are also typically used with is not and are not (isn’t / aren’t).
Contracted Present Simple Examples:
When To Apply the Present Simple Tense
Use #1: When describing actions that are repeated or occur on a regular (habitual) basis.
**Note: We generally use the present continuous tense for actions currently in progress.**
Use #2: When showing a statement or fact.
It doesn’t matter if the statement is actually true (people tend to make generalizations), but this is said as something believed to be true in the past, now, and in the future.
**Note: Many statements presented as scientific facts are presented in the present simple tense.**
Use #3: When talking about a scheduled event.
This is commonly used when talking about transportation but can work for other events happening in the near future.
Use #4: When talking about something happening now.
Though you’ll generally use the present continuous tense when speaking about things that are in progress, there are verbs that are non-continuous or mixed use. In that situation, use the present simple tense.
With a better understanding of the present simple tense, you’ll be able to conjugate quickly and communicate effectively. Want to see more examples of this verb tense? Check out this Magoosh resource for present simple tense uses.
And if you’d like to work on your tenses and other grammar topics with a professional tutor, visit Magoosh Speaking today!