Present Simple

subject + verb/verb + (e)s
Examples: He plays tennis. She studies English.


subject + do/does not + verb
Examples: He doesn’t play tennis. She doesn’t study English.


do/does + subject + verb?
Example: Do you study English?

The principal uses of the present simple are listed below.

  • To refer to habitual or repeated actions:
    I read the Bible just about every day.
    She never goes to the cinema.
    He doesn’t come here very often.
    Do you smoke?
    With the present simple, frequency adverbs are often used (e.g. usually, always, frequently, generally, sometimes, rarely, often, never, normally, every day).
  • To refer to permanent states:
    She holds a university degree in economics.
    Note: use the present perfect, not the present simple when describing how long or since when something has continued:
    She has taught economics since 1991. (not She has teaches economics since 1991)
  • To talk about factual information, such as generally accepted truths or scientific facts:
    Parents are generally blind to their children’s faults.
    Water boils at 100°C.
    The following frequency adverbs are often used: generally, normally, usually
  • To give instructions (e.g. cooking) or directions:
    First, you add the sugar to the butter; then, you add two eggs.
    You go up the stairs and turn right.
  • To talk about what happens in books, plays and films:
    In the film, a young woman travels to the countryside and soon falls in love.
  • To use with state verbs when the meaning is not temporary. These verbs often describe a state rather than an action and therefore do not normally have continuous tenses.
    ۱) Verbs that describe senses: see, hear, smell, taste, feel, look, sound
    The coffee tastes really bitter.
    Note: when something is happening now, we use can:
    I can’t see anything. It’s too dark.
    ۲) Verbs of possession: have, belong, possess, own
    This camera belongs to my wife.
    ۳) Verbs of perception: know, believe, understand, forget, think, remember
    I think she’s too young to get married.
    ۴) Verbs of emotion: care, like, dislike, love, hate, mind, prefer, enjoy, adore
    Do you mind if I open the window?
    I adore my Husband.
    ۵) Verbs of description: seem, mean, look like, contain, sound, resemble, weigh
    You resemble my father.

  • Grammar Tip

    Continuous verbs are usually active verbs (verbs such as to learn), that refer to an action. Stative verbs (such as to like), refer to a state, and are usually used in simple tenses, e.g. I like this song. Who sings it? NOT I’m liking this song as to like is a state, not an action.

    Some verbs such as to feel have both an active and a stative meaning.