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Simple Present Tense: How to Use It, With Examples

Updated on April 11, 2023Grammar

The simple present is a verb tense with two main uses. We use the simple present tense when an action is happening right now, or when it happens regularly (or unceasingly, which is why it’s sometimes called present indefinite). Depending on the person, the simple present tense is formed by using the root form or by adding s or es to the end.

I feel great!

Pauline loves pie.

I’m sorry to hear that you’re sick.

The other is to talk about habitual actions or occurrences.

Pauline practices the piano every day.

Ms. Jackson travels during the summer.

Hamsters run all night.

Typically, when we want to describe a temporary action that is currently in progress, we use the present continuous: Pauline can’t come to the phone right now because she is brushing her teeth.

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How to form the simple present

In the simple present, most regular verbs use the root form, except in the third-person singular (which ends in s).

First-person singular: I write.

Second-person singular: You write.

Third-person singular: He/she/it writes. (Note the s.)

First-person plural: We write.

Second-person plural: You write.

Third-person plural: They write.

For a few verbs, the third-person singular ends with es instead of s. Typically, these are verbs whose root form ends in o, ch, sh, th, ss, gh, or z.

First-person singular: I go.

Second-person singular: You go.

Third-person singular: He/she/it goes. (Note the es.)

First-person plural: We go.

Second-person plural: You go.

Third-person plural: They go.

For most regular verbs, you put the negation of the verb before the verb, e.g., “She won’t go” or “I don’t smell anything.”

The verb to be is irregular:

First-person singular: I am.

Second-person singular: You are.

Third-person singular: He/she/it is.

First-person plural: We are.

Second-person plural: You are.

Third-person plural: They are.

How to make the simple present negative

The formula for making a simple present verb negative is do/does + not + [root form of verb]. You can also use the contraction don’t or doesn’t instead of do not or does not.

Pauline does not want to share the pie.

She doesn’t think there is enough to go around.

Her friends do not agree.

I don’t want pie anyway.

To make the verb to be negative, the formula is [to be] + not.

I am not a pie lover, but Pauline sure is.

You aren’t ready for such delicious pie.

How to ask a question

The formula for asking a question in the simple present is do/does + [subject] + [root form of verb].

Do you know how to bake a pie?

How much does Pauline love pie?

Common verbs in the simple present

Infinitive I, You, We, They He, She, It
to ask ask / do not ask asks / does not ask
to work work / do not work works / does not work
to call call / do not call calls / does not call
to use use / do not use uses / does not use
to have have / do not have has / does not have

The verb to be in the simple present

Infinitive I You, We, They He, She, It
to be am / am not are / are not is / is not
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