English grammar - present simple

- - Present simple


verb (+ s in third person singular of most verbs - see additional points below)


  1. We use present simple to talk about permanent situations.
    • She doesn't speak English.
    • Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
  2. We use present simple to talk about things that happen repeatedly.
    • I go to school every day.
    • Jack sometimes plays tennis.
  3. We use present simple to ask for and give instructions.
    • How do I get to the bathroom?
      You go up the stairs and turn right.
  4. We use present simple in narrative (to tell stories).
    • At the start of the film a big spaceship comes to Earth and lands in LA. Then the aliens eat all the people.
  5. We use present simple to talk about future scheduled events.
    • The meeting starts at 10am.
    • The train leaves at 7.32pm.
  6. We use present simple in certain introductory expressions.
    • I hear you went on holiday to Spain this summer.
    • I gather you're leaving the company.
  7. We use present simple to do things by using some special verbs (for example: promise, advise, suggest, apologise, insist, agree, swear).
    • I promise I'll never do it again.
    • I advise you to think carefully before you do that.

Additional points

Third person singular spelling

  1. Most verbs: add s.
    • play - plays
    • sleep - sleeps
  2. Verbs which end in consonant + y: change y to ies.
    • hurry - hurries
    • reply - replies
  3. Verbs which end in s, z, ch, sh or x: add es.
    • push - pushes
    • watch - watches
  4. Exceptions
    • do - does
    • go - goes
    • have - has


(See the phonemic chart for IPA symbols used below)

The pronuciation of the third person singular ending depends on the last phoneme of the verb.

  1. If the last phoneme of the verb is a vowel, a diphthong, /b/, /d/, /g/, /v/, /ð/, /m/, /n/, /ŋ/ or /l/, we don't add a syllable and the ending is pronounced /z/
    • goes: /gəʊz/
    • runs: /rʌnz/
  2. If the last phoneme of the verb is /p/, /t/ /k/, /f/ or /θ/, we don't add a syllable and the ending is pronounced /s/
    • hopes: /həʊps/
    • pats: /pæts/
  3. If the last phoneme of the verb is /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /s/, /z/, /ʃ/ or /ʒ/, we add a syllable, pronouncing the ending /ɪz/
    • catches: /kætʃɪz/
    • snoozes: /snuːzɪz/

Ideas for teaching present simple

How do you teach present simple? Add your idea »

I use a MINDMAP I created for my French pupils to make them understand the two things they need to know to choose the right solution. I tell them they only need to open TWO DOORS on their way to "perfect grammar": the FIRST door is chosen in a group of three possibilities (affirmative, interrogative or negative form), and the SECOND door is chosen between two possibilities (third person singular or other person). If they have followed the right path - I encourage them to do so with their finger on their mindmap at the beginning, they can't fail ! I've created a site where my pupils can have all my mindmaps in colour and they can go and do interactive exercises on other teachers' free sites too. Thus, they learn grammar and vocabulary at home. Other teachers also can use it, of course. Some teachers even sent me ideas of exercises I copied on the site (with their names associated with their creations). My site is http://helpyourself.fractalweb.fr
Agnès Pihuit Imbert

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