Present simple tense

Present simple tense

By Alena Lien, 

23 September 2020

Click below to expand each section. 


Affirmative sentences

[subject] + [base/third person singular form of main verb]

Although extra care is usually taken with irregular verbs (particularly for the past and perfect tenses), this is not the case for the present simple tense. To form the third person singular for regular and most irregular verbs , "-s/-es" is added to the base form of the verb.

  • "I wake up at 9am every day."

  • "The sun rises in the east."

Negative sentences

[subject] + ["do/does not"] + [base form of main verb]

It is possible to have the verb "do" as both the auxiliary verb and main verb. 

"Do not" can often be contracted to "don't," and "does not" to "doesn't."

  • "I don't like to do my taxes."

  • "The sun doesn't rise in the west."


["do/does"] + [subject] + [base form of main verb]

[question words] + ["do/does"] + [subject] + [base form of main verb]

Question words are:

  • Who

  • What

  • When

  • Why

  • Where

  • Which

  • How

It is also possible to have the verb "do" as both the auxiliary verb and main verb. 

  • "Does she work?"

  • "What do you do?"

It is possible to make negative questions even though their use is quite specific. The structure for full forms and contracted forms are slightly different. However, contracted forms are preferred in general.

Contracted form:

["don't/doesn't"] + [subject] + [base form of main verb]

[question word] + ["don't/doesn't"] + [subject] + [base form of main verb]

  • "Doesn't she work?"

  • "What don't you do?"

Full form:

["do/does"] + [subject] + ["not"] + [base form of main verb]

[question word] + ["do/does"] + [subject] + ["not"] + [base form of main verb]

  • "Does she not work?"

  • "What do you not do?"

Dynamic vs Static verbs


Even though this is called the present simple tense, its variety of uses means that the timeline can differ depending on how you use the tense.

Please note: See Future: I do & I'm doing to see future uses of the present simple tense.



1.   To talk about habitual actions or routines.

  • "I have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning."

  • "She doesn't play tennis very often."

2.   To talk about facts or permanent situations.

  • "The sun rises in the east."

  • "She doesn't know how to drive."

3.   To express feelings or reactions at the moment of speaking.

This is often used with verbs of senses and perception, such as "feel," "look," "taste" etc.

  • "I smell something good."

  • "I don't like the colour on you."

4.   To express intent.

This is usually used with speech act verbs, such as "promise," "intend," "request" etc.

  • "I promise to pay you back when I get paid."

  • "She doesn't agree with the proposal."

5.   For giving directions and instructions.

  • "Go straight and then turn on your second left."

  • "Attach the cradle to the mount by turning it clockwise to tighten."

6.   For telling stories in the present tense.

  • "I open the door to find myself face-to-face with a monster."

7.   Newspaper headlines.

  • "Stock market falls to an all time low."

8.   Commentaries.

This can either be a spoken description as an event happens either on radio or TV, or a set of written remarks that explains a subject or expresses an opinion on it.

  • "Beckham passes to Robinson who shoots and scores!"

  • "Alternative medicine helps your body do its own healing."

9.   To state historical events in sequence.

The past simple can also be used for this purpose.

  • "1971: McDonald's Australia opens its first restaurant in Sydney. 1985: Ronald McDonald House Charities becomes a registered Australian charity."

More verb tenses