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Advanced Level: Present Simple Tense Review

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The Present Simple has four main functions (uses). With regard to its form, remember that in the third person singular 's/es' is added to the verb.
I speak English. / He speaks English.

Question forms with the Present Simple need the auxiliary 'do', as do short replies:
Do you speak English? / Does he speak English?
Yes, I do. / Yes, he does?
No, I don't / No, he doesn't?

Uses of the Present Simple

1 – Repeated actions

The Present Simple is used to express the idea that an action is repeated or usual. It shows the action to be a habit, a hobby, a scheduled event, or something that often happens. It can even show something a person forgets regularly or never does:

I play the piano.
She doesn't play tennis.
Does he play tennis?
The bus leaves every 30 minutes.
The bus does not pass through your street.
When does the bus leave?
I never forget a face.
I always forget the names of new acquaintances.
Did you forget your phone again?
The sun rises in the centre of the bay in summer.
Where does the sun rise from?

2 – Facts or generalizations

The Present Simple can also show that the speaker believes a fact was true, is true now, and will be true in the future. It is also used to make generalizations:

Italians love cooking.
The English do not like travelling to cold countries for their holidays.
Do the Japanese eat beef?

3 – Scheduled events in the near future

The Present Simple can be used to talk about a scheduled event in the near future. This is normally used with time tables; arrival and departure times, but it can be used with other scheduled events especially if there is a fixed time which is referred to in the sentence.

The flight leaves at 6:55. Why such an ungodly hour?
The party starts at nine.
What time does the morning lesson start?

It is important to remember that the Present Simple is only used for a scheduled time when it is absolutely clear in context and cannot be confused with a routine. In situations like this the Present Continuous is used:

I meet Peter at seven on Friday. – This means every Friday.
I am meeting Peter at seven on Friday. – This is a fixed arrangement for the future.

4 – Using 'now' with non-continuous verbs

Speakers sometimes use the Present Simple to express the idea that an action is happening now. Normally this is expressed with the Present Continuous but the Present Simple can be used with verbs that do not take the continuous form and with 'mixed' verbs.

I'm here in London now.
I'm afraid Sarah is not here now.
John needs our help now.
Do you have your camera with you now?
I don't have time now.

Position of adverbs

Adverbs of frequency are placed in front of the main verb as do adverbs like ever, still, just etc. Adverbs of time come in the front or end position of the sentence.

I only speak English?
Do you only speak English?
Do you still work as an accountant?

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school

  • 1. I _ to the gym every week.

  • 2. Do you want to come with us for dinner? I’m sorry but my drama class _ at nine and doesn't finish till eleven.

  • 3. I'd hate to live in London because it _ all the time.

  • 4. I _ my cousin from Germany tomorrow. Do you want to come along?

  • 5. I can't talk right now. I _ really busy. I’ll call you later.

  • 6. I don't understand! John is normally so pleasant. He _ extremely difficult today.

  • 7. The service at the new restaurant is exceptional and it _ reasonably inexpensive.