Present simple

Daisy is chatting to her brother Oliver, and his best mate Alfie, about her new boyfriend. Daisy and Oliver’s mum is working in Thailand this week.

Instructions

As you watch the video, look at the examples of the present simple. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, the present simple tense.

Transcript

Alfie: So, how’s it going with Jack?
Daisy: Not great. I mean, I like him a lot, but it’s impossible! During the week I have swimming practice on Mondays, I do taekwondo on Tuesdays and tennis on Thursdays.
Alfie: Do you see him on Wednesdays, then?
Daisy: No, he watches black and white films at his cinema club on Wednesdays.
Oliver: Yeah, and they’re not just really old films, Alfie, they watch foreign ones with subtitles too!
Alfie: Well, there’s always the weekend. Do you go out together at the weekends?
Daisy: That’s just it, it’s tricky. He works in the bookshop all day Saturday and he goes out with his mates from the book club on Saturday evenings.
Alfie: Whoa! Book club? So, he loves old films and books!? Mmm ... Does he like sports?
Daisy: Not really. He thinks chess is a sport! Well, he watches football on the telly sometimes, but he doesn’t play any sports.
Alfie: Mmm ... I think you’re right. It’s impossible!
Daisy: Right, I’m late. See you later.
Alfie and Oliver: See you, Daisy.

Sophie: Hi, love.
Oliver: All right, Mum?
Sophie: Yeah, I’m fine.
Oliver: Good trip?
Sophie: Not bad, but Thailand’s really hot at this time of year. I’m off to Chiang Mai tomorrow to do a three-day trek. The train leaves at 5 in the morning. How’s Daisy? Is she with you?
Oliver: No, she has tennis on Thursdays.
Sophie: Ah, of course. No problem. Listen, ask Daisy to phone me later, OK? The number of the hotel is on the fridge and I’m in room 37.
Oliver: All right, Mum. Speak later. Watch out for the snakes!
Sophie: Thanks, Ollie! Bye, love. See you Sunday.
Alfie: Is your mum in Thailand this week?
Oliver: Yeah. Trekking in Chiang Mai for three days.
Alfie: Wow – that beats going to college. Imagine, three days in the jungle! I can’t imagine my mum doing that. Cool. Does she like walking?
Oliver: No, not really. Only if it’s to go shopping on the high street!
Alfie: See you tomorrow.
Oliver: Yeah, see you tomorrow. 

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.

Correct!

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!

 

Discussion

Tell us about your typical day. Remember to use the present simple!

Grammar
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