The Present Simple
When to use the present simple:
1. To to express the idea that an action is repeated or usual.
I eat cereal for breakfast every day.
I usually visit my parents every weekend.
She usually forgets to bring her wallet.
Every day they meet at the bus stop.
1b) Or in the negative it is used to talk about things that someone often or never forgets to do, or things that are never done or usually not done
She never forgets to call home when she’s out with her friends.
My grandma always forgets who I am because she has Alzheimers.
The train does not (doesn’t) stop here.
The bus does not (doesn’t) leave at 9am.
She doesn’t (does not) usually have cereal for breakfast.
My dad doesn’t (does not) drive any more.
2) to talk about actions we see as long term or permanent:
I live in New Zealand.
I speak English.
I play squash.
3a) To express opinion, thoughts or feelings that the speaker has at the time of speaking
Chocolate is good for your health.
This carpet is made of wool.
Children are so cute.
I have three children.
I think that you are naughty.
3b) to express something that the speaker believes is a fact or will be a fact in the future (whether it really is true or not).
New Zealand is a really big country.
(NB: it is not important that this isn’t quite true, but it is the speaker’s opinion at the time of speaking so it is expressed with the present simple).
4) to refer to scheduled events (usually those that are going to take place in the near future and which can often found on a timetable or other kind of chart)
The train leaves at 9am tomorrow.
Do the school holidays start next Monday?
Is the class in this room?
5) to express the idea that an action is happening or is not happening now. (only possible with non-continuous verbs):
I am in the shopping centre, where are you?
I’m sorry Maria is not here right now.
I have all the children with me.
How to form the present simple
Regular Verbs: Base form of the verb / + s
Instead of “s,” “es” is added to positive, third-person singular forms (he/she/it) of verbs ending with the following sounds: s, z, sh, ch, j or zs
Here are the rules:
Verbs ending in ‘s’ like pass, add -es … he passes
Verbs ending in ‘z’ like waltz, add -es … she waltzes
Verbs ending in ‘sh’ like wish, add -es … he wishes
Verbs ending in ‘ch’ like watch, add -es … she watches
Verbs ending in ‘x’ like mix, add – es … he mixes
Verbs ending in ‘o’ like go, add -es … she goes
Verbs ending in a consonant + y, like fly, change ‘y’ to ‘i’ then add -es … It flies
[anything else] just add -s
Negative sentences and questions are formed with the auxiliary verb ‘do’.
Eg: the verb ‘eat’
Affirmative Question Negative
I eat Do I eat? I do not eat.
You eat Do you eat? You do not eat.
He/She/It eats. Does he eat? He does not eat.
We eat. Do we eat? We do not eat.
They eat. Do they eat? They do not eat.
The following are examples of where to place such advers as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.
You never eat vegetables.
Do you only eat vegetables?
It is still sunny.
It does not often rain where I live.
ACTIVE / PASSIVE
Once a week, Johnny eats vegetables. Active
Once a week, the vegetables are eaten by Johnny. Passive
How to ask questions using the present simple:
Do/Does + subject + base form of the verb
Eg: Do you live in Australia?
Do they often go to parties?
Does Paul like vegetables?
How to make negative statements using the simple past:
I / we / you / they + don’t …..
He / she / it + doesn’t …..
My car doesn’t use much petrol. (not ‘my car don’t use much petrol.)
Sometimes he’s late but it doesn’t happen very often. (not ‘it don’t happen very often’.)
Subject + do/does not (don’t/doesn’t) + base form of the verb
Eg: You don’t live in Australia.
They don’t often go to the party.
Paul doesn’t like vegetables.
To turn negative statements into questions:
Don’t + subject + base form of the verb?
Don’t you live in Australia?
Don’t they often go to parties?
Doesn’t Paul like vegetables?
Irregular Verb Examples:
The verb “have” is irregular in positive, third-person forms.
Positive Negative Question
I have. I don’t have… Do I have…?
You have. You don’t have… Do you have…?
He/She/It has. He doesn’t have… Does he have…?
We have. We don’t have… Do we have…?
They have. They don’t have… Do they have…?
The verb “be” is irregular in the Simple Present including its question and negative forms.
Positive Negative Question
I am. I am not. Am I?
You are. You are not. Are you?
He/she/It is. He is not. Is he?
We are. We are not. Are we?
They are. They are not. Are they?
Modal verbs behave differently from other verbs and do not take “s” in the third person. Like the verb “be” they also have different question forms and negative forms in Simple Present.
Positive Negative Question
I should go. I should not (shouldn’t) go. Should I go?
You should go. You should not go. Should you go?
He/She/It should go. He should not go. Should he go?
We should go. We should not go. Should we go?
They should go. They should not go. Should they go?
A Pronunciation Guide
It is important to keep in mind that even though the present simple regular verb endings look the same ‘s’ or ‘es’ the suffix is pronounced differently depending on the last sound of the base verb.
‘Es’ is pronounced as ‘ez’ with verbs whose base form ends in an
sound (s, se, ce), a [z] sound (z, ze), a [š] sound (sh), [c] (ch), or a [j] sound (j, dge) sound.
toss – tosses
doze – dozes
force – forces
nudge – nudges
rise – rises
‘S’ or ‘es’ is pronounced as ‘s’ with verbs whose base form ends in a *voiceless [p] (p, pe), [t] (t, tt, te), [k] (k, ck, ke), [f] (f, gh), [θ](th), [h] (h), or [j] (y) sound.
develop – develops
eat – eats
take – takes
laugh – laughs
write – writes
‘S’ is prouncounced as ‘z’ with verbs whose base forms end in a*voiced [m] (m, me), [n] (n, ne), [ng] (ng), (b, be), [d] (d), [g](g, ge), [v] (v, ve), [ð] (th), [w] (w), [r] (r, re), or [l] (l, ll, le) or any vowel sound.
swim – swims
grin – grins
sing – sings
club – clubs
cling – clings
dive – dives
smooth – smooths
depend – depends
fasten – fastens
grow – grows
sell – sells
travel – travels
go – goes
* To know whether a sound is voiced or not, put your fingers on your throat and say ‘zip’ – you should be able to feel your throat (vocal chords) vibrate – this is a voiced consonant. Now say ‘sip’ – there should be no vibration in your throat for this word because this is an example of a voiceless consonant. A simple pronunciation rule when adding ‘s’ to a word is that if it follows a vowel or a voiced consonant it is also voices as a ‘z’ sound, but if it follows a voiceless consonant it is not voiced either and is a ‘s’ sound.