ESL Simple Present Tense

ESL Beginners (A1), ESL Beginners Grammar (A1)

What is the Simple Present Tense?

The Simple Present Tense (also known as the Present Simple Tense) is the basic form of the present tense in English and is known as “simple” due to the fact that its basic form consists of a single word.

Present Simple Definition – One definition of the simple present tense is ‘an action or event that takes place habitually’, that is to say an action or event that is done regularly. However, there are many other uses of the Simple Present Tense, the most common of which are explained below.

Present Simple Form

The simple present tense rules are as follows: The form of a regular verb is the same as the base form, except for the third person singular (he, she, it), where either an s is added to the main verb or es is added to the auxiliary verb, depending on whether it is a positive sentence, a negative sentence or a question.

(i). For positive sentences (e.g. I like ice cream.):

subject + base form of verb
e.g.
I / you / we / they like ice cream.
He / she / it likes ice cream.

(ii) For negative sentences (e.g. I do not like ice cream.):

subject + auxiliary verb do + base form of verb
e.g.
I / you / we / they do not like ice cream.
He / she / it does not like ice cream.

(iii). For simple present tense questions (e.g. Do you like ice cream?):

auxiliary verb Do + subject + base form of verb
e.g.
Do I / you / we / they like ice cream?
Does he / she / it like ice cream?

There are some exceptions to the spelling rules for the third person singular.

If the verb ends in a consonant followed by a y (e.g. to study), in the third person singular the y changes to an i and then es is added (e.g. he / she / it studies).

Meanwhile, if the verb ends in sh, ss, tch, x or z, then it is not just an s that is added in the third person singular, but es.

e.g.
– He washes his own socks.
– She bosses me about all day long.
– He watches the football on television.
– He boxes at the local gym.
– It buzzes like a bee.

Then there are some verbs that have irregular spellings (e.g. ‘to have‘ takes ‘he / she / it has‘ in the third person singular, while ‘to go‘ takes ‘he / she / it goes‘.

Finally, the verb ‘to be‘ is irregular and does not have an auxiliary in either the negative or the question form of a sentence. However, this is studied in more detail in the grammar lesson – ESL verb to be.

Uses of Simple Present Tense

Below are some of the more common uses of the simple present tense:

1). Regular actions or events (often used with the adverbs of frequency)

For example:

– I play golf every weekend.
– Sometimes he doesn’t play tennis on Fridays.
– Do they ever play football?
– The bus leaves at 7.30 am.
– They don’t come here much.
– Do you usually have sandwiches for lunch?
– He often forgets his wallet.
– They drive to work every day.

2). Talking about permanent situations

For example:

– I have a daughter.
– She works in an office.
– Maria speaks French extremely well.

3). A fact (i.e. something that is always true) or a generalisation (even if untrue).

For example:

– London is the capital of England.
– London is not in the USA.
– Boys like football.
– Plants need water.
– She eats too much.
– All birds can fly.

4). A future fact (i.e. something that is fixed in the future).

For example:

– When do you board the plane?
– We fly to Prague at the weekend.
– The party starts at 7pm tonight.
– The ferry leaves from Dover at 5.00 am tomorrow morning.
– What time does the play start tomorrow?

5). To express states, senses and emotions

For example:

– I love you!
– You look awesome in that dress.
– This porridge tastes awful.
– I am too hot.
– I didn’t know that.
– Do you need me?

6). To give directions/instructions etc.

For example:

– You turn left at the traffic lights and then walk straight up the hill.
– After you add the eggs, mix until it becomes a thick sauce.

7). Newspaper Headlines

For example:

– “Tottenham score six to go top of the league!”
– “World’s oldest person dies at 124.”
– “Man walks on the moon.”

[quote picture=”http://howtopublishanebook.org/eslworksheets/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/davidjamesault.jpg” name=”David James Ault, Founder of ESL Worksheets” align=”right”]
If you would like to practice what you have learnt in this lesson about the Present Simple Tense, then why don’t you check out our different simple present tense worksheets.

We currently have the following present simple tense worksheets for sale:

ESL Simple Present Tense Worksheet ($1.99)
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Here are some more resources for the Present Simple Tense:

Simple Present Tense Exercises PDF – A “fill in the spaces” type worksheet.
Simple Present Tense PDF – Practising 3rd Person Singular Endings.
Simple Present Tense Activities – Present Simple game for kids.

I hope that this article on the Simple Present Tense has been useful and if so please share on your favourite social media channels. Also, if you have any comments, questions or advice on this topic, then I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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About the author: David James Ault is a Teacher, Freelance Translator, Writer, Publisher and Internet Marketer and has created ESL Worksheets and English Lessons as a resource to help both teachers and students – If you have enjoyed this article, then why not sign up to the ESL Worksheets & Educational Resources mailing list (and get 5 Premium Worksheets while you are at it).

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