The simple present tense

Form
Affirmative Negative Question
I write.
She writes.
You write.
I do not write.
She does not write.
You do not write.
Do I write?
Does she write?
Do you write?

Uses of the simple present tense

We use the simple present tense to talk about permanent situations, or about things that happen regularly, repeatedly or all the time.

  • He goes for a walk every morning.
  • I get up at 6.30.
  • Ann works for an insurance company.
  • John writes with his left hand.

timeless truths

We use the simple present tense to express timeless truths.

  • The earth revolves round the sun.
  • Heat expands bodies.
  • Mongooses kill snakes.

series of events

When we talk about completed actions and events that happen as we speak or write, we usually use the simple present. This happens, for example, in demonstrations and commentaries.

  • The two boxers sparred for some time. Suddenly Joe Louis jumps at his opponent and with a terrific upper cut knocks him out for the full count.

here comes … etc.

Note the structure here comes … and there goes …

  • There goes the dinner bell.
  • Here comes the villain of the piece.

Pronoun subjects come directly after here and there.

  • Here she comes.
  • There it goes.

talking about the future

The simple present is used to refer to future events which are time tabled.

  • Her train leaves at 3 o’ clock.
  • The next flight is at 5 o’ clock tomorrow morning.
  • The match begins at 9 am.
  • I start my new job tomorrow.

The simple present is often used instead of will … in subordinate clauses that refer to the future.

  • I will phone you when I get home.

formal correspondence

Some fixed phrases that are used in letter-writing can be expressed either in the simple present (more formal) or in the present progressive (less formal).

  • We look forward to hearing from you. (less formal: We are looking forward to hearing from you.)
  • I enclose my cheque for $100. (less formal: I am enclosing …)

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