Simple present

The simple present, present simple or present indefinite is one of the verb forms associated with the present tense in modern English. It is commonly referred to as a tense, although it also encodes certain information about aspect in addition to present time.

It is called "simple" because its basic form consists of a single word (like write or writes), in contrast with other present tense forms such as the present progressive (is writing) and present perfect (has written). For nearly all English verbs the simple present is identical to the base form (dictionary form) of the verb, except when the subject is third-person singular, in which case the ending -(e)s is added. There are a few verbs with irregular forms, the most notable being the copula be, which has the simple present forms am, is and are.

((The spelling for the verb in the third person differs depending on the ending of that verb))

1. For verbs that end in -O, -CH, -SH, -SS, -X, or -Z we add -ES in the third person.

go – goes catch – catches wash – washes kiss – kisses fix – fixes buzz – buzzes

2. For verbs that end in a consonant + Y, we remove the Y and add -IES.

marry – marries study – studies carry – carries worry – worries

NOTE: For verbs that end in a vowel + Y, we just add -S.

play – plays enjoy – enjoys say – says

The principal use of the simple present is to refer to an action or event that takes place habitually, as in He writes for a living (in contrast to the present progressive, which refers to something taking place at the present moment: He is writing a letter now). However certain verbs expressing a state, such as be and know, are used in the simple present even when referring to a temporary present state. There are also certain other uses (including those mentioned in the following paragraph) in which the simple present does not reflect a habitual aspect.

Like other English present tense forms, the simple present has certain uses in which it does not refer to present time. It frequently refers to the future, as in "My train leaves tomorrow" and "If we win on Saturday, ...". It can also sometimes refer to past events – as in newspaper headlines, for example.

For more information about the uses of constructions related to or contrasting with the simple present, see Uses of English verb forms.


The basic form of the simple present is the same as the base form of the verb, unless the subject is third person singular, in which case a form with the addition of -(e)s is used. For details of how to make this inflected form, see English verbs § Third-person singular present.

The copula verb be has irregular forms: am (first person singular), is (third person singular) and are (second person singular and all persons plural). The modal verbs (can, must, etc.) have only a single form, with no addition of -s for the third person singular.

The above refers to the indicative mood of the simple present; for the formation and use of the subjunctive mood, see English subjunctive. (The defective verb beware has no simple present indicative, although it can be used in the subjunctive.)

The present simple of lexical verbs has an expanded form which uses do (or does, in the third person indicative) as an auxiliary verb. This is used particularly when forming questions and other clauses requiring inversion, negated clauses with not, and clauses requiring emphasis. For details see do-support. For the verbs (auxiliary and copular) which do not make this form, as well as the formation and use of contracted forms such as 's, isn't and don't, see English auxiliaries and contractions.

All forms of the simple present are given below, using the verb write as an example:

Uses ---> The principal uses of the simple present are listed below.

I always take a shower.
I never go to the cinema.
I walk to the pool.
He writes for a living.
She understands English.
This contrasts with the present progressive (present continuous), which is used to refer to something taking place at the present moment: I am walking now; He is writing a letter at the moment.
You are happy.
I know what to do.
A child needs its mother.
I love you.
The label says "External use only."
The label says "External use only."
Mary says she's ready.
In Hamlet, Ophelia drowns in a stream.
40-year-old wins gold medal
We leave for Berlin tomorrow at 1 pm.
Our holiday starts on the 20th May.
I chop the chives and add them to the mixture.
Ronaldo dribbles round the defender and shoots.
According to the manager's new idea, I welcome the guests and you give the presentation.
If he finds your sweets, he will eat them.
We will report as soon as we receive any information.
Ice melts if you heat it.
Plants die if they don't get enough water.
We can see the light improving as we speak.

In colloquial English it is common to use can see, can hear for the present tense of see, hear, etc., and have got for the present tense of have (denoting possession). See Uses of English verb forms § Have got and can see.

See also


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