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Present Simple Tense: Definition, Structure, and Usage

The simple present is the most straightforward English grammar concept and the easiest to understand. It’s used to describe actions or states that are currently happening, regularly occurring, or generally true. These are known actions. 

For example:

  • I walk past the library every day. 
  • I occasionally play video games after school.
  • We always buy the best candy from the market. 

How Do You Form the Present Simple Tense?

You need a subject and a verb to form a standard sentence in the simple present tense. The subject can be a noun or pronoun, and the verb must agree with the subject in number (singular or plural).

Let’s take a look at how you can form sentences in the present simple tense form. 

The Present Simple Tense Formula

The formula to create a present simple tense sentence is:

  • Subject + Verb (s/es) + Object

Usually, the present simple tense is formed by taking the root form of the verb as it is or, depending on the point of view, by adding -s or -es at the end.

A point of view is the position from which something is being observed or explained. It is the author’s perspective. For example, “me” or “I” indicates the first-person point of view. “You” indicates a second-person point of view. “She” or “he” indicates a third-person point of view. 

For example:

  • First Person: I walk past the library every day. 
  • Second Person: She walks past the library every day.
  • Third Person: Dan watches TV every weekend. 

Let’s see this in action using the basic rules of the present simple tense:

In English, the simple present tense describes habits, unchanging situations, general truths, and things that happen regularly.

For example:

  • I feed my dog each morning. 

We also use the simple present to describe how often something happens with adverbs of frequency, such as always, usually, often, sometimes, and never. 

For example:

  • I usually buy a coffee on my way to work. 

The simple present can also describe future events that are scheduled or planned.

For example:

  • The race begins on Saturday at 6 a.m. 

What Are Three Forms of Present Simple Tense?

There are three ways to form the present simple tense in English grammar.

The first method is by using the base form of the verb. This works with “I” and “you” pronouns and for plural subjects.

Examples:

  • I go to school every day.
  • They know all about Britain’s history.
  • You need to eat breakfast every morning.

The second way of forming the present simple tense is by adding “-s” at the end of the verb. This only works when the subject of the sentence is singular.

Examples:

  • Maria knows how to talk to children.
  • Tony deals with these things daily.

For the third form, just add “-es” at the end of the verb. The rule is that the subject has to be singular, and the verb needs to end in o, x, z, ss, ch, th, gh, or sh.

Examples:

  • He dashes to help her with the groceries. 
  • She relaxes every day after work. 

Present Simple Tense Question Formation

You can also use the present simple tense to create questions. 

There are two ways to form questions using the present simple tense. The first way is to use the auxiliary verb “do.” To form a question, you simply take the statement form of the present simple and add the auxiliary verb “do” before the subject.

An auxiliary verb is a helping verb that works to support the main verb of a sentence. It helps create tense and works to show aspects of time. It includes words such as have, has, had, be, am, is, are, were, do, must, can, and should.

For example:

  • Statement: They eat breakfast.
  • Question: Do they eat breakfast?

When you want to use a Wh-question word (such as what, where, when), add it before the auxiliary verb “do.”

For example:

  • Where do they eat breakfast?
  • When do they eat breakfast?
  • What do they eat for breakfast?

The second way to form a question using the present simple tense is when there’s already an auxiliary verb used in the sentence. In this case, you simply move the auxiliary verb before the subject. 

For example:

  • “She is singing a song.” becomes “Is she singing a song?”

Present Simple Tense Negative Formation

To make the simple present negative, add do not (don’t) or does not (doesn’t) before the verb.

For example:

  • Positive: I eat breakfast every day.
  • Negative: I don’t eat breakfast every day.

To create a negative question, move do not (don’t) or does not (doesn’t) before the subject. 

For example:

  • Don’t you eat breakfast every day?
  • Why don’t you eat breakfast every day?