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Simple Present Tense

As its name implies, simple present tense indicates actions occurring in the present.

  • The cat sees the bird.
  • She knows the answer.

Simple present tense also indicates habitual, customary, repeated, or permanent actions or conditions.

  • My karate class meets on Thursdays.
  • Dave smokes too many cigarettes.
  • drink a cup of coffee before I go to work.
  • Horned toads live in the desert.

English simple present verbs change forms to agree in number and person with the subject of the verb. For most verbs, simply add an –s to the end of the verb for third person singular, as shown in the table that follows.

SingularPlural
First personI eatWe eat
First personYou eatYou eat
Third personHe/She/It eatsThey eat

However, if the base form of the verb ends in –s, –sh, –ch, –x, –z, or –o, add –es If the base form ends in consonant + y, change the to before adding –es.

SingularPlural
First personI catchWe catch
Second personYou catchYou catch
Third personHe/She/It catchesThey catch
SingularPlural
First personI hurryWe hurry
Second personYou hurryYou hurry
Third personHe/She/It hurriesThey hurry

The most common English verb, to be, is irregular, meaning that it does not follow this pattern.

amWe are
You areYou are
He/She/It isThey are

Another common verb, to have, is irregular only for third person singular: He/She/It has.

To form the negative of a simple present tense verb, use the auxiliary verb do.

  • Present tense form of do + not + base form of another verb

The verb do becomes the one that agrees with the subject. The auxiliary do is also required to make a simple present tense sentence into a question, in which case do comes at the beginning of the sentence, in front of the subject.

  • The cat sees the bird.
  • Question: Does the cat see the bird?
  • Negative: The cat does not see the bird.
  • My karate class meets on Thursdays.
  • Question: Does my karate class meet on Thursdays?
  • Negative: My karate class does not meet on Thursdays.

Only the simple present tense verb to be does not use the do auxiliary.

  • The sky is blue.
  • Is the sky blue?
  • The sky is not blue.

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