Present Simple

1 October 2014 by quicklime

Level: C1
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Form

The form of the present simple only changes in the third person:

I read -> he reads (-s added to the base form)
I watch -> she watches (-es added to the base form after o, s, sh, ch and x)
we carry -> it carries (-ies added when the base form ends in -y)

The negative and questions are formed with the auxiliary do.

General truths and facts

The present simple is often used to state truths and to describe things which are felt to be facts or permanent situations:

  • Things which are generally true: British people drink a lot of tea.
  • Facts: Broken bones in adults don't heal as fast as they do in children.
  • Permanent situations: A colony of Antarctic penguins lives in Marwell Zoo.

Repeated events/actions

The present simple is used to describe things that happen on a regular basis:

As temperatures fall with the approach of winter, the soil freezes and contracts.

The present simple is often used with adverbs of frequency (always, usually, often, sometimes, never) and expressions of frequency (every ..., once a ...):

Share prices usually change on a daily basis - but often by very little.

Series of events/actions

The present simple is used to describe a series of events or actions often with impersonal you:

From here you cross the road, go through an iron gate and follow the path west...

The present simple is used to express immediacy of an event, e.g. in sports commentaries, particularly when the action being describes is a quick one and is therefore over before the description finishes:

France kicks off, Zidane passes to Henry, Henry cuts inside ...

Other uses

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