Simple present

- When to use the simple present tense:
This tense has a range of uses; however, it doesn’t express actions happening in the moment. It can be expressed in three different ways: affirmative, interrogative, and negative. We’ll start with the general outline of the present simple tense in the affirmative form.

To express general truth, emotions, and repeated or habitual actions. I play soccer.
She volunteers at school.
My parents live in Maine.
To express a fixed event or arrangement in the near future. Kerry’s plane arrives at 6pm.
My appointment is at 8am tomorrow.
To express a future event after certain conjunctions like: as soon as, before, after, or until. I will come after I run 10 miles.
I will come over as soon as I find my keys.
To give directions or instructions. Take a left at the light and continuer another 5 minutes.

- Rules for conjugating the simple present tense:

  • Use the base of the verb to conjugate present simple. Add an -s to the base for the third person (she thinks, he cleans, etc.)
  • Verbs ending in -y should be changed to -ies (study à studies) for the third person. Some exceptions are play (plays) and pray (prays).
  • Add an -es to verbs that end in -ss, -ch, -sh, and -x (wash à washes, hush à hushes)
Verb I/you/we/they She/he/it
Run run runs
Study study studies
Catch catch catches
Pass pass passes

- To be is one of the most important verbs to know. As an irregular verb, it can also be a bit harder to master.

They arrange the chairs each morning. à She arranges the chairs each morning.
I sing in a choir. à He sings in a choir.
We are angry at the court’s decision. à She is angry at the court’s decision.
Subject pronoun Full form Contracted form
I Am I’m
You Are You’re
He/she/it Is He’s/She’s/It’s
We Are We’re
They Are They’re

- Add "do" or "does" before the subject to switch from the affirmative simple present to interrogative. "Do" will precede all subject pronouns except the third person (he/she/it). The subject pronouns he/she/it require "does" to make the interrogative form. The new sentence structure will look like this, and you can find examples in the chart below:

Do/does + subject + verb

The negative form also requires do/does, constructed like this:

Subject + do/does +not + Verb

Interrogative Full negative Contracted negative
Do I run? I do not run. I don’t run.
Do you run? You do not run. You don’t run.
Does she/he/it run? She does not run. She doesn’t run.
Do we run? We do not run. We don’t run.
Do they run? They do not run. They don’t run.

- The present continuous tense is used to describe an action happening right now. It is composed of two parts. It begins with the verb to be in present tense, which is then followed by the present participle of the main verb. The present participle is the verb base + -ing.

Using the present continuous
An action happening right now. You’re reading a description of present continuous.
A future plan that has already been planned. She’s going to London in the spring.
A continuous, repeated action. I’m always practicing guitar.
A temporary situation. She’s working late tonight.
I’m doing my homework.
Harry is fixing his bike.
Caroline isn’t running much because of her injury.
We’re going on vacation next week!

- Verbs to avoid in present continuous
There are some verbs that should be avoided in present continuous; instead, use them in simple present. As a rule of thumb, these verbs refer more to a state of being (as opposed to an action). Here are some of the most common of these verbs:

To notice To believe To wish To regret
To weigh To smell To fear To hope
To dislike To contain To taste To see
To doubt To assume To be To want

They cover emotions, senses, opinions, measurements, and mental states. However, this doesn’t mean these verbs can never be used in present continuous. Rather, it’s best to double-check them.