Present form: Present Simple Tense

Many resources call this the “present simple” or “simple present”. This is the most basic English tense pattern. It has a very simple meaning, so it is used in a wide range of situations.

Present simple sentences are basic.  These sentences refer to things in general. There is nothing added.

On other pages we will look at parts we can add to verbs to add more information, such as -ed, be -ing, have -en, and will.

Read the explanation below or start with our practice exercises.

The simplest way to use verbs is to use them in the present form.

What is the Present Simple?

present form past form ing form en form

What is the Meaning of the Present Simple?

We talk about things that are generally true.

Things that are generally true are true in the present-future.
They may be true in the past too.


How do we Use the Present Simple?

We use the present form to talk about things that happen many times.

We use the present form to talk about things that are generally permanent.

I eat breakfast.

present simple tense timeline - in general - many times

I live in England.

present simple tense timeline - general truths

Examples of the Present Simple

Here are some common phrases using I in the present simple:

I get it.
I think so.
I love it.

Present simple sentences can also start with I’m:

I’m sorry.
I’m here.
I’m good.

Become familiar with sentences starting with I, then move on to sentences with other words.

Subject Verb Object Place/Time
We eat at work.  We eat at work.
She works on Wednesdays.  She works on Wednesdays.
They live in Sweden.  They live in Sweden.
You like swimming.  You like swimming.

We talk about things that are always true. These are facts.

present simple tense timeline - general truths

Water boils at 100°C.

Cows don’t eat rabbits.

Is Mt Everest the tallest mountain in the world?

We talk about things that are true now. These are descriptions. We describe things in the present.

present simple tense timeline - describing the present

This tastes delicious!

He doesn’t have a hat.

Are you hungry?

Things may be generally true because they are fixed, and can’t be changed or controlled. These are scheduled events. We often add a future time to make this clear.

present simple tense timeline - schedule - fixed future

The meeting starts at 4PM.

I don’t work this Sunday.

When does the bus leave?

We talk about quick actions or events that finish as the speaker is speaking. We say what happens as it happens. We talk about these actions and events when giving commentary and telling stories.

present simple tense timeline - commentary - narration - events as they happen

(James is watching soccer on TV) Commentator: He shoots… He scores!

Amy wakes up and goes downstairs. She opens the door…

Stories are in the past or in our imaginations, so we usually use the past form. However, storytellers sometimes use the present form to bring the story into the present for dramatic effect.

Key Point

We use the present form for things that are generally true in the present or future.

Practice Exercises

1. Complete the sentences

2. Complete the question and answer

3. Complete the conversation

This is the most common and simplest of the English tense patterns. It has a very general meaning and can be used in a wide range of situations.

Another very useful part of the English tense system is the past form, often made by adding -ed.

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