The present simple
We use the present simple to talk about repeated actions or events, permanent states or things which are always true. To find out more about the present simple, read and listen to the conversation below.
Can you give me some examples?
Yes, of course. We use the present simple to talk about things which are repeated every day, every week, every year, etc.
I usually get up at 7 o'clock.
During the week I have swimming practice on Mondays, I do taekwondo on Tuesdays and tennis on Thursdays.
We always go on holiday in the summer.
I see. And you use words for explaining more about the time too.
Yes, we often use adverbs of frequency sometimes, often, usually or other time expressions like on Mondays, twice a week or in the summer.
What about permanent states? What does that mean?
Permanent states are situations or feelings which are not temporary.
I like him a lot.
Sophie works as a travel writer.
They live in London.
We also use the present simple for general facts, for example when talking about science or geography.
Thailand is really hot at this time of year.
Snakes live on the ground, in trees and in water.
So what do I need to know about forming the present simple?
The main thing is that the third person singular forms end in -s or -es. That's for he, she or it.
He watches black and white films at his cinema club on Wednesdays.
He thinks chess is a sport!
OK, and the other forms don't end in -s or -es? I watch TV a lot. We think Coldplay are boring.
What about questions and negatives?
For most verbs we use the present simple of the verb do/does + subject + infinitive without to to form questions.
Do you see him on Wednesdays then?
Does Jack like sports?
For negatives we use the subject + do/does + not + infinitive without to.
Daisy and Jack don't go out together much at the weekend.
I don't think Coldplay are boring.
To go back to the idea of permanent and temporary things, what about this sentence: Is your mum in Thailand this week? Isn't that temporary?
Yes, it is. That's a very good point. Normally we use the present simple for permanent states, and the present continuous for temporary states, but some verbs are thought of as State Verbs and they are not usually used in the continuous form.
And the verb to be is one of those verbs?
Exactly! So even though staying in Thailand is temporary, we use the present simple with the verb to be. Here's another example:
How's Daisy? Is she with you?
But that isn't the question form you just told me about! Where's the do?
Ah, no. I said 'for most verbs we use do in questions'. The verb to be is different and so are modal verbs like can. We'll look at the verb to be separately because it's different and very common.
What are the other state verbs?
We'll look at those when we look at the Present Continuous. Any more questions?
Yes, what about: The train leaves at 5 in the morning? Isn't that talking about an event in the future?
Yes, it is, but it's also a repeated event. This is sometimes called the 'timetable future'.
OK, I have a maths class in a minute, so I have to go.
Good use of the 'timetable future'! Bye!