Simple Present Tense

Simple Present Tense


1A. Explanation

The simple present tense takes one of two forms depending on the subject.

Subject base form -s form
I, you eat eats
They, We go goes
Plural nouns work works
He, She, It
Singular nouns
Non count-nouns

1B. Examples

Subjects followed by verb in base form: Subjects with verb in ?s form:
I like rice. She makes toys.
You look nice. He rakes leaves.
They think twice. It takes time.
We throw dice. Mom bakes pies.
Chefs use spice. Water slakes thirst.
The boys ring the doorbell. Jill loves dates.
Children sing on special occasions. Mr. Smith fills crates.
Some people bring gifts to parties. Grandpa washes plates.
Bees sting when they are disturbed. The dog jumps gates.

1C. Exercises

1. Jerry (come/comes) to school on time.

2. Jerry and Linda (come/comes) to school on time.

3. Ms. Jones (teach/teaches) geography.

4. The cat (sleep/sleeps) on the sofa every day.

5. Milk (cost/costs) two dollars a quart.

2A. Explanation.

Use the simple present tense to indicate:

1. Routine actions

2. Facts

2B. Examples

Routine actions. Facts
John brushes his teeth every morning. Hawaii is in the Pacific Ocean
Carol usually drives to work. Some birds fly south for the winter.
The teacher grades homework on Fridays. Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen.

2. Using “was” with verbs in the past tense.

It was happened one night in September. (Incorrect)
It happened on night in September. (Correct)

Note how the present tense is used in the following paragraph.

Mr. Lee is a bus driver. Every day he gets up at 7:00 a.m. and prepares for his day. He showers, eats his breakfast, and puts on his uniform. His wife drives him to the station where he checks in with his supervisor. Then, he gets on Bus #405 and starts the engine. He pulls out of the parking lot and begins his route. At his first stop, he picks up Mrs. Miller, who lives in a red house on the corner of Main Street and Seventh Avenue. She works at the post office and has to be to work by 9:00. At the next stop, the Bartlett twins get on the bus. They attend class at Bayside Elementary. More children get on at the next three stops, and they ride until the bus reaches their school. Mr. Lee enjoys seeing the kids every day and is happy to see them again in the afternoon when he drives them safely back home.

2C. Exercises

1. To practice the present tense, reread the above paragraph, then try to repeat the main ideas in your own words. Be sure to use the -s form of the verb when the subject of a sentence is singular. Have a partner listen to your speech and check for correct usage of verbs.

2. Tell whether the present tense is appropriate in the following sentences.

1. Yesterday I go to Washington D.C. Correct Incorrect
2. Every day, Mr. Johnson cleans his living room. Correct Incorrect
3. They usually take the bus to the office. Correct Incorrect
4. Right now Susan eats her breakfast. Correct Incorrect
5. Melinda and Harry work in the bank. Correct Incorrect


Common Mistakes with the simple present tense

1. Not using the -s form with singular subjects:

Jack likes Chinese food. (Correct)
Jack like Chinese food. (Incorrect)

2. Using the simple present tense when another tense is required.

Last night I watched television for two hours. (Correct)
Last night I watch television for two hours. (Incorrect)

For Conversation practice:

Speaking Situations : Simple Sentences

For an example of simple present tense in context, see

Writing : Sample Present Tense

See also :

Present Simple Verbs (from The Internet TESL Journal)

Simple Present (from


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