Simple Present Tense | Examples, Use & Worksheet

The simple present tense is a verb form used to talk about habits, unchanging situations, facts, and planned events in the near future.

The simple present tense of most verbs is the infinitive form (e.g., “sing”). However, the third person singular (e.g., “he,” “she,” and “it”) takes an “s” at the end of the verb (e.g., “write” becomes “writes”).

Simple present tense forms

How to use the simple present

The simple present is used to refer to habits, unchanging situations or states, general truths, and scheduled events in the future.

Most verbs in the simple present tense use the infinitive form (e.g., “run”). The only exception is the third person singular (used with “he,” “she,” “it,” and any singular noun), which is usually formed by adding “s” to the end of the verb.

Examples: Simple present tense in sentences
Jan and Alana exercise every morning.

I speak French.

The Earth revolves around the sun.

The last bus leaves at 7 p.m.

The simple present is also used along with future simple tense constructions to talk about a future action. In these instances, the simple present construction is usually preceded by a subordinating conjunction (e.g., “after,” “before,” “as soon as,” “when”).

Examples: Present simple and future simple
We’ll pick you up from the airport as soon as you arrive next week.

When Dan and Ava go to Italy, they will visit the Sistine Chapel.

Note
Adverbs of frequency (e.g., “sometimes,” “never”) are often used in the simple present to indicate the frequency with which something occurs (e.g., “I always stretch in the morning,” “You never eat salad”).

Forming the third person singular

The third person singular is usually formed by adding “s” to the end of the verb (e.g., “run” becomes “runs”). However, this can vary depending on the verb’s ending.

Original ending Third person singular ending Example
-o
-ch
-sh
-ss
-x
-z
-es do; does
watch; watches
wash; washes
guess; guesses
mix; mixes
buzz; buzzes
Consonant + y -ies (replacing the “y”) fly; flies
Note
The verb “have” also has an irregular third person singular form: “has.” For all other subjects, the infinitive form is used (i.e., “have”).

  • I have a cat.
  • Sandra has an old bike.

Irregular verb: “Be”

The stative verb “be” is used in the simple present to refer to unchanging situations (e.g., “You are clever”) and to temporary present situations (e.g., “Ramone is hungry”). This verb changes in form more than any other, as shown in the table below.

Subject Verb
I am
You are
He/she/it is
We are
You are
They are

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Present simple vs. present continuous

While the present simple is typically used to refer to habits, states, and facts, the present continuous is used to describe a temporary action that is currently taking place.

Examples: Present simple vs. present continuous
Justin eats dinner at 6 p.m. every day. [describing a habit]

Justin is eating dinner right now. [describing a temporary action in the present]

Note
While most verbs in the present simple are not used to talk about temporary situations in the present, stative verbs (e.g., “be,” “have,” “want,” “know”) can be used in the simple present to describe temporary states of being.

These verbs are typically not used in the present continuous tense:

  • I am wanting ice cream.
  • I want ice cream.

How to form negatives

For most subjects, negative statements are formed by adding “do not” (or the contraction “don’t”) between the subject and the verb. The third person singular uses “does not” (or “doesn’t”).

Examples: Negative simple present sentences
We don’t watch TV while we eat dinner.

Abby doesn’t like traveling.

Note
Negative constructions in the simple present use the infinitive form of the verb, regardless of subject (i.e., the third person singular form never takes an “s”).

  • The clock doesn’t works.
  • The clock doesn’t work.

The verb “be” is made negative by adding the adverb “not” after the verb. This is the case for all subjects.

Examples: Negative form of the verb be
I am not prepared for the presentation.

Even though he didn’t sleep much last night, Andrew is not tired.

Note
Don’t negate other verbs in the same way as “be,” by just adding “not” after the verb. This only applies to “be.” For other verbs, use “do not” or “does not” as described above.

  • Jamie exercises not much.
  • Jamie doesn’t exercise much.

How to form questions

To ask a yes–no question using the simple present, add “do” before the subject and the infinitive form of the verb. Again, the exception is the third person singular, which uses “does” instead of “do.”

Examples: Simple present tense questions
Do you want some advice?

Does Clarke work on Fridays?

To ask a question using a wh-word (an interrogative pronoun like “what” or an interrogative adverb like “when”), place the pronoun or adverb before “do” (or “does” for the third person singular).

Examples: Questions with interrogative pronouns and adverbs
Where do you work?

What do you want?

Why does Gary never answer his phone?

Note
Some questions using interrogative pronouns or interrogative adverbs can take a different form. For example, the interrogative pronoun “who” can be used before the third person singular form of a verb to ask who performs a specific repeated action (e.g., “Who sits at this desk?”).

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How to form the passive voice

Passive sentences are ones in which the subject is acted upon (rather than performing the action). In the simple present, the passive voice uses a conjugated form of the verb “be” along with a past participle.

Examples: Simple present passive constructions
Returned books are inspected by the librarian.

The stray cat is fed by everyone in the neighborhood.

I am allowed to be here.

Worksheet: Simple present vs. present continuous

You can test your understanding of the difference between the simple present and the present continuous with the worksheet below. Fill in one of the two options in each sentence.

  1. I _______ every morning before work. [run/am running]
  2. Kevin _______ the kitchen right now. [cleans/is cleaning]
  3. Humans _______ about 12 times per minute. [blink/are blinking]
  4. The train _______ at 12 p.m. every day. [leaves/is leaving]
  5. Allie _______ at the moment. [studies/is studying]
  1. I run every morning before work.
    • “Run” is correct. In this instance, the simple present is used to refer to a habit.
  1. Kevin is cleaning the kitchen right now.
    • The present continuous form “is cleaning” is correct because it refers to a temporary action in the present.
  1. Humans blink about 12 times per minute.
    • The present simple form “blink” is correct. In this instance, it’s used to express a fact.
  1. The train leaves at 12 p.m. every day.
    • The present simple form “leaves” is correct. In this instance, it’s used to refer to a planned future event.
  1. Allie is studying at the moment.
    • The present continuous form “is studying” is correct because it refers to a temporary action that is currently taking place.

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If you want to know more about nouns, pronouns, verbs, and other parts of speech, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations and examples.

Frequently asked questions about the simple present tense

What is the simple present form of be?

In the simple present tense, the stative verb “be” is used to describe temporary present situations (e.g., “I am tired”) and unchanging situations (e.g., “Laura is a doctor”). The form of the verb varies depending on the subject:

  • The first person singular uses “am” (e.g., “I am”)
  • The third person singular uses “is” (e.g., “he is,” “she is,” “it is”)
  • All other subjects use “are” (e.g., “you are,” “we are,” “they are”)
What is the “-ing” form of a verb?

The “-ing” form of a verb is called the present participle. Present participles can be used as adjectives (e.g., “a thrilling story”) and to form the continuous verb tenses (e.g., the present continuous: “We are partying”).

Gerunds also use the “-ing” form of a verb, but they function only as nouns (e.g., “I don’t enjoy studying”).

Sources in this article

We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

This Scribbr article

Ryan, E. (2023, September 25). Simple Present Tense | Examples, Use & Worksheet. Scribbr. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/verbs/simple-present/

Sources

Aarts, B. (2011). Oxford modern English grammar. Oxford University Press.

Butterfield, J. (Ed.). (2015). Fowler’s dictionary of modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

Garner, B. A. (2016). Garner’s modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.