Simple Present Tense: Definition, Function, and Structure

What is Simple Present Tense?

As the name suggests, the simple present tense is the most basic or simple tense in English used to describe present activities.
Please, look at the illustration above!

Timeline of Simple Present Tense

I wake up in the morning every day.
It is my habit to wake up in the morning. I do it every day. Past, now / present and future.

From the illustration above, it is known that the simple present tense (also called the simple present) is used to express habits, facts, and timetables. It is also used to make simple statements of fact, talk about things that happen repeatedly, and describe something always true.

In more detail, we can say that:

  1. It refers to an action that occurs at regular intervals.
    E.g., I go to work every day.
  2. It is used in stating general truths.
    E.g. The sun rises in the East.
  3. It can be used for future scheduled events such as plane arrivals & departures, classes, etc.
    However, you can not do this for most future actions; you can only do it for scheduled activities.
    E.g., The train leaves at 9:30 tomorrow morning.
  4. It is used when referring to printed material, describing events portrayed in a book, film, or other work of art.
    E.g., At the end of the novel, the actor lives happily.

How to Form

Do / does + notSubjectDo / does + notBase formRest of sentence
I / You / We / Theyworkat 11 am.
He / she / itworksat 11 am.
I / You / We / Theydo notworkat 11 am.
He / she / itdoes notworkat 11am.
DoI / You / We / Theyworkat 11 am?
DoesHe / she / itworkat 11 am?
Table of Simple Present Tense

From the above table, we notice three kinds of sentences in the simple present tense: positive, negative, and question.

For a positive sentence: If the subject in the sentence is singular, then the formula to make the sentence is S + Verb 1 (s/es).

  • She goes to work every Monday to Friday
  • He runs in the field every morning
  • Miss. Rini always takes a shower every day.
  • Mr. Hadi usually eats breakfast every morning.

If the subject is plural, the Simple Present Tense formula is S (plural subject) + Verb 1.

  • We sometimes go to the library on Saturday morning.
  • They usually play football in the backyard.

For negative sentence, Subject followed by do/does, then not, and verb 1.

The use of do/does depends on the subject of the sentence. If the subject is singular (singular subject), then use does. However, use do if the subject is plural (plural subject).

  • She does not work in the library on Saturday morning.
  • They do not shop in this market every Sunday morning.

For yes/no question sentence, do/does are placed at the beginning of the sentence, followed by a subject and verb 1. Also, add a question mark (?).

  • Does she work in the library on Saturday morning?
  • Does Mr. Ado always eat breakfast every morning?
  • Do they usually play football in the backyard?

Common Mistakes Forming the Present Simple

When the present simple is used with “he,” “she,” “it,” or one person’s name, it always ends in “-s” or “-es.”

√ He starts work at 11 am.

× He start work at 11 am.

There is no need to add the auxiliary verb “do” when forming the present simple. It is only used to create questions and negatives.

√ I eat lunch at noon every day.

× I do eat lunch at noon every day.

The main verb in a negative sentence stays in its base form, even if the subject is “he,” she,” or “it.

√ He does not work at 11 am.

× He does not works at 11 am.

Never add “-s” or “-es” to the base form of the verb when asking a question, even in the third. Person singular (he, she, or it).

√ Does she work at 11 am?

× Does she works at 11 am?

References and Recommended Reading

  • Azar, B. S. (1996). Basic English Grammar. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Regents.
  • Azar, B. S. (2003). Fundamentals of English Grammar: Chart Book: a Reference Grammar. White Plains, NY: Longman.
  • Azar, B. S., & Hagen, S. A. (2009). Understanding and using English grammar: Workbook. White Plains, N.Y.: Pearson Longman.
  • Ansell, M. (2000). Free English Grammar Second Edition.
  • Barduhn, S., & Hall, D. (2016). English for Everyone–English Grammar Guide. New York: DK Publishing.
  • Murphy, R., Smalzer, W. R., & Nguyễn, T. T. (2000). Grammar in Use: Intermediate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Murphy, R., & Čhakramāt, S. (2002). Essential grammar in use (Vol. 20010). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tenry Colle
Tenry Colle

Hi! My name is A. Tenry Lawangen Aspat Colle. I am a motivated and resourceful English educator. In addition, as the owner of @rymari.translation17 has shaped me to be a punctual and dependable translator of Indonesian to English and vice versa.

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