The simple present tense (also known as present simple or present indefinite tense) is not that simple. In fact, this is one of the few tenses that tends to give learners of the English language terrible nightmares. The reason for this tense being complicated is the fact that it makes use of two forms of a verb: the first form (go, eat, drink, sleep, talk, etc.) and the fifth form (goes, eats, drinks, sleeps, talks, etc.). Many a time, learners confuse these forms and thus find it quite difficult to construct sentences without making mistakes. In this post, we have not only listed out the rules pertaining to this important tense but also stated when and how you are to construct a sentence in this tense. Towards the end, you will find a dialogue. We suppose the dialogue will strengthen your understanding of this tense. So if you’re ready, let’s begin!
The Eight Sentence Types
Before we get started with the rules, we’d like to mention that a sentence in English can fall under any one of the following types:
- Affirmative (also known as declarative)
- Negative interrogative
- Adverb interrogative
- Adverb negative interrogative
While there are a few other types of sentences too, for the time being, we would like you to focus on these main types. Please note that in the example sentences, the verbs have been italicised.
What Is an Affirmative Sentence?
An affirmative or declarative sentence expresses a fact, opinion, thought, or action in words.
- Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
- I teach English.
- My father is an engineer.
- They think you are intelligent.
- He wakes up at six in the morning.
What Is a Negative Sentence?
A negative sentence is the opposite of an affirmative sentence. It tells about the non-existence of a fact, opinion, thought, or action.
- Water does not boil at 90 degrees Celsius.
- I do not teach French.
- My father is not a doctor.
- They do not think you are intelligent.
- He does not wake up at six in the morning.
What Is an Interrogative Sentence?
An interrogative sentence asks a question. The answer to an interrogative sentence is usually ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It is important to note that interrogative sentences in all tenses begin with a form of one of these helping verbs, namely, ‘to be’, ‘to do’, and ‘to have’ or the pronouns ‘who’, ‘whom’, and ‘what’.
- Does water boil at 100 degrees Celsius?
- Do you teach English?
- Is your father an engineer?
- Do they think I am intelligent?
- Does he wake up at six in the morning?
- What does she do?
- Who works here?
- Whom do you want to meet?
What Is a Negative Interrogative Sentence?
A negative interrogative sentence not only asks a question but also uses a negation. The answer to a negative interrogative sentence is also usually ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Like interrogative sentences, negative interrogative sentences also begin with a form of one of the helping verbs, that is, ‘to be’, ‘to do’, and ‘to have’ or with the pronoun ‘who’, ‘whom’, or ‘what’.
- Doesn’t water boil at 100 degrees Celsius? OR Does water not boil at 100 degrees Celsius?
- Don’t you teach English? OR Do you not teach English?
- Isn’t your father an engineer? OR Is your father not an engineer?
- Don’t they think I am intelligent? OR Do they not think I am intelligent?
- Doesn’t he wake up at six in the morning? OR Does he not wake up at six in the morning?
- What doesn’t she do? OR What does she not do?
- Who doesn’t/does not work here?
- Whom doesn’t he meet every Sunday? OR Whom does he not meet every Sunday?
What Is an Adverb Interrogative Sentence?
An adverb interrogative sentence begins with an interrogative adverb. While an adverb interrogative sentence is also a question, it’s not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. The answer to these questions can’t generally be given in one word. These sentences begin with the adverbs ‘Where, Why, How, and When’. In some situations, the word ‘What’ can function as an adverb too. Thus, it can be used to construct an adverb interrogative sentence.
- At what temperature (When) does water boil?
- Where do you teach English?
- How is your father an engineer? (I thought he pursued journalism.)
- Why do they think I am intelligent?
- What do you feel?
What Is an Adverb Negative Interrogative Sentence?
An adverb negative interrogative sentence begins with an interrogative adverb. It contains a negation as well. While this type of sentence is also a question, it’s not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ one. The answer to an adverb interrogative sentence, much like the answer to an adverb interrogative one, can’t be given in a word. An adverb negative sentence begins with the adverbs ‘Where, Why, How, When’, and ‘What’.
- When doesn’t he play cricket? OR When does he not play cricket?
- How isn’t your father an engineer? OR How is your father not an engineer?
- Why don’t they think I am brave? OR Why do they not think I am brave?
- Where doesn’t he go? OR Where does he not go?
- What doesn’t it matter? OR What does it not matter? (Meaning: In what way does it not matter?)
What Is an Imperative Sentence?
An imperative sentence is an order, command, or request. It always begins with a verb’s first form. Consider the following sentences:
- Come here.
- Close the door.
- Do not smoke here. (Negative imperative)
- Read the first sentence aloud, please.
- Don’t make a noise. (Negative imperative)
What Is an Exclamatory Sentence?
An exclamatory sentence expresses an emotion. It almost always ends with an exclamation mark. It may or may not have a verb. Look at the sentences right below:
- What lovely weather!
- Ouch! That hurts!
- How kind of you!
- Bravo! You are awesome!
- Ugh! This bowl of soup tastes pathetic!
Simple Present Tense Rules
Before you read these rules, we suggest you give the lesson on the concept of subject-verb agreement a read by clicking here.
|Sentence Types||Rules||Example Sentences|
|Affirmative||Subject + Verb (first or fifth form) + Objects + Adverbial Complements||My mother cooks delicious food.|
|Negative||Subject + do not (don’t) or does not (doesn’t) + Verb (first form) + Objects + Adverbial Complements||They do not speak English.|
|Interrogative||Do/Does + Subject + Verb (first form) + Objects + Adverbial Complements?||Do you read books?|
|Negative Interrogative||Don’t/Doesn’t + Subject + Verb (first form) + Objects + Adverbial Complements? OR Do/Does + Subject + not + Verb (first form) + Objects + Adverbial Complements?||Does he not go to college?|
|Adverb Interrogative||Why, When, Where, How, or What + Interrogative Sentence||Where do you read books?/What do you read?/When do you read books?|
|Adverb Negative Interrogative||Why, When, Where, How, or What + Negative Interrogative Sentence||Why does he not go to college?|
Some Other Important Rules
In a lot of situations, you won’t have to use any main verb. You will, however, have to use a helping verb ‘is’, ‘am’, or ‘are’. Note that while ‘am’ is used with the subject ‘I’, we use ‘is’ with the subject ‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘it, and ‘are’ with the subject ‘you’, ‘they’, or ‘we. Also, if the subject is singular, we use ‘is’, and if it is plural, we use ‘are’. Study the table below to understand the rules.
|Sentence Types||Rules||Example Sentences|
|Affirmative||Subject + is/am/are + Adjective/Noun/Adverbial Complement||I am an English coach.|
|Negative||Subject + is/am/are + not Adjective/Noun/Adverbial Complement||He is not busy at the moment.|
|Interrogative||Is/Am/Are + Subject + Adjective/Noun/Adverbial Complement?||Are you happy?|
|Negative Interrogative||Is/Am/Are + Subject + not Adjective/Noun/Adverbial Complement? OR Isn’t/Ain’t/Aren’t + Subject + Adjective/Noun/Adverbial Complement?||Are your parents still angry with me? Who are they upset with?|
|Adverb Interrogative||Why, When, Where, How, or What + Interrogative Sentence||Why are you worried? Where is your son?|
|Adverb Negative Interrogative||Why, When, Where, How, or What + Negative Interrogative Sentence||Why isn’t your friend here yet?|
Simple Present Tense Uses
The Simple Present Tense, as we have already mentioned, is one of the most important tenses in English. We have listed out all the five major uses of this tense for you in this lesson. Should you have doubts after going through the uses, feel free to contact us by clicking here.
Use the simple present to talk about a regular action. A regular action need not necessarily mean an action that happens every day but actions that happen once a week, once a month, or even once in two years are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, regular. Some of the adverbs that we can use with this tense are ‘always’, ‘sometimes’, ‘usually’, ‘often’, ‘seldom’, ‘hardly’, ‘rarely’, ‘never’, ‘daily’, ‘weekly’, ‘fortnightly’, ‘monthly’, ‘annually’, ‘yearly’, etc. Consider the following example sentences:
- He plays cricket once a week.
- I drink two cups of coffee daily.
- My parents go to Lisbon once a year.
- I seldom read comic books, but I often read novels and literary magazines.
- We buy this journal once a month.
This tense is used to talk about a universal truth or fact. Study the following example sentences:
- The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.
- Delhi is the capital of India.
- Water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius.
- We live in Mumbai.
- It hardly rains in the Sahara desert.
We generally use the present simple to talk about a mental activity or a non-physical action. Some of the verbs used in this tense to talk about an action happening at the time of speaking are ‘like’, ‘love’, ‘adore’, ‘admit’, ‘accept’, ‘understand’, ‘know’, ‘hope’, desire’, ‘want’, ‘accept’, ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘smell’, ‘agree’, ‘second’, ‘sound’, ‘suppose’, and ‘mean.’ Please note that most of these verbs have more than one meaning. It is possible to use them in the present continuous tense when they carry a different meaning. Study the following sentences to understand this rule better.
- I hear a noise.
- Do you agree with me?
- I second your thoughts.
- This sentence doesn’t sound correct.
- What do you mean?
- I understand you.
- He knows the story.
- Do you see a book in front of you?
- I think/feel you are right.
- My father wants to buy this car.
We can use the present simple tense to talk about an action that is already over. It is important to keep in mind, however, that you should not use any time marker while talking about past actions in this tense. Look at the following sentences:
- He says he writes every evening.
- My friends come home and request me to join them for a movie.
- The Prime Minister meets the farmers to discuss the recently passed bill.
- We go there and realise we are not carrying our credit cards.
- The principal tells us that she will not tolerate any bad conduct.
This tense can also be used to talk about a planned future course of action. It is, however, important to mention the time marker while using this tense to talk about an action that will happen in the future. Study the following sentences:
- The college reopens next week.
- My parents return home tomorrow.
- We leave for Chennai on Sunday.
- The Chief Minister of Delhi addresses a gathering the day after tomorrow.
- They go to New York next year.
Sam: Hello, Rita! How are you?
Rita: Hello, Sam! I am fine. How are you?
Sam: I am fine too. Tell me, Rita, are you free this Sunday?
Rita: Yes! Why?
Sam: I want to go on a long drive with you. I suppose you like to travel.
Rita: Oh! I love travelling!
Sam: Where would you like to go with me?
Rita: Let’s go to Miami.
Sam: Sounds great!
Rita: I am sure it does! Do you want to say something else?
Sam: No. I think I should leave now. I have a meeting at eleven o’clock.
Rita: Have a fantastic day!
Sam: You too have a fantastic day!
Categories: English Lessons