One of the most fundamental tenses in the English language is the simple present tense. It’s also one of the first tenses students learn.
The reason is that the simple present tense is the first building block of communicating intelligibly, so it’s essential to know how to build the tense’s various structures.
In this post, we define the simple present tense, as well as explain its formula and structure rules. We also have a few examples, so let’s dive in!
Definition of Simple Present Tense
The simple present tense is a verb tense that’s used to express a fact, generalization, repeated actions, and scheduled events in the future, as well as a state or feeling.
Facts and Generalizations
One of the most common uses of the simple present tense is to state facts, such as “Florida is in America” or “The moon is a natural satellite.”
You can also use this verb tense to make broad generalizations about people or things, such as “Cats like fish” and “Children don’t like school.”
Repeated Actions and Events
Another instance in which you would use the simple present tense is when referring to a recurring action or event. These actions include habits, hobbies, and events that happen frequently.
Scheduled Events in the Future
You can talk about scheduled events or fixed arrangements using the simple present tense.
The schedule or timetable is usually established by an organization or an outside party, rather than by you.
A State or Feeling
In some cases, you can use the simple present tense to describe a state or feeling that you’re experiencing or not experiencing right now. You can only do this using stative verbs.
For example, “I feel great” and “He trusts his older sister” are sentences that describe a state or feeling rather than an action.
Simple Present Tense Formula
There are three main formulas for the simple present tense. You can use each formula depending on the sentence structure—positive, negative, or interrogative.
The three formulas of the simple present tense are:
- Positive sentences: subject + verb + object
- Negative sentences: subject + do not/does not + verb + object
- Interrogative sentences: Do/Does + subject + verb + object OR
WH question word + do/does + subject + verb + object
Sentence Structure Rules
You can form a simple present sentence by following one of the three sentence structures—positive, negative, or interrogative—and conjugating the verb accordingly.
In simple present positive sentences, if the subject is third-person singular (he, she, or it), add an “s” or an “es” to the verb.
In the case of first, second, or plural third-person subjects, simply follow the positive sentence formula without making any changes.
To make a simple present negative sentence, start by adding the helping verb “do” following a first, second, plural third-person subject, and “does” following a singular third-person subject.
Then, either add “not” to form the negation or use the contraction “don’t” or “doesn’t.”
There are two structures that you can follow to ask a question using the simple present tense.
If you want to ask a yes/no question, begin the question with the helping verbs “do” or “does,” then the subject, verb, and, finally, the object.
Add a WH question word before the “do/does + subject + verb + object” formula to ask for specific information.
- The second period starts at 8:20 a.m.
- Jessica goes to the arcade on weekends.
- The children play hide-and-seek during lunchtime.
- We wash the dishes after dinner.
- Andrew doesn’t eat fruit after six p.m.
- It doesn’t like cold weather.
- They don’t watch TV in the morning.
- Teachers don’t answer questions after class.
- Does she work at this store?
- Where does Brad go to study?
- How do we get there?
- Do they like ice cream?