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The simple present, present simple or present indefinite is one of the verb forms associated with the present tense in modern English. It is commonly referred to as a tense, although it also encodes certain information about aspect in addition to the present time. The simple present is the most commonly used verb form in English, accounting for more than half of verbs in spoken English.[1]

It is called "simple" because its basic form consists of a single word (like write or writes), in contrast with other present tense forms such as the present progressive (is writing) and present perfect (has written). For nearly all English verbs, the simple present is identical to the base form (dictionary form) of the verb, except when the subject is third-person singular, in which case the ending -(e)s is added. There are a few verbs with irregular forms, the most notable being the copula be, which has the simple present forms of am, is, and are.


For pronouns I, you, we, they, there is no modification for verbs.

For pronouns he, she, it, a suffix is added following these rules:

For verbs that end in -o, -ch, -sh, -s, -x, or -z, the suffix -es is added.


For verbs that end in a consonant + y, the letter y is replaced by the suffix -ies.


In other cases, the suffix -s is added.


A special situation happens with the verb to have in which the letters ve are omitted before adding s.



The basic form of the simple present is the same as the base form of the verb, unless the subject is third person singular, in which case a form with the addition of -(e)s is used.[2] For details of how to make this inflected form, see English verbs § Third person singular present.

The copula verb be has irregular forms: am (first person singular), is (third person singular), and are (second person singular and all persons plural). The modal verbs (can, must, etc.) have only a single form, with no addition of -s for the third person singular.

The above refers to the indicative mood of the simple present; for the formation and use of the subjunctive mood, see English subjunctive. (The defective verb beware has no simple present indicative, although it can be used in the subjunctive.)

The conjugation of the simple present is given below, using the verb to write as an example.

Simple Present Indicative
Singular Plural
First Person I write We write
Second Person You write You write
Third Person He/she/it writes They write


The present simple for lexical verbs has an expanded form that uses do (or does, in the third person indicative) as an auxiliary verb. This is used particularly when forming questions and other clauses requiring inversion, negated clauses with not, and clauses requiring emphasis. For details see do-support. For the verbs (auxiliary and copular) that do not make this form, as well as the formation and use of contracted forms such as 's, isn't, and don't, see English auxiliaries and contractions.

Simple Present Negative
Singular Plural
First Person I do not write We do not write
Second Person You do not write You do not write
Third Person He/she/it does not write They do not write

Simple present subjunctive

Main article: English subjunctive


The simple present is used to refer to an action or event that takes place habitually, to remark habits, facts and general realities, repeated actions or unchanging situations, emotions, and wishes.[3] Such uses are often accompanied by frequency adverbs and adverbial phrases such as always, sometimes, often, usually, from time to time, rarely, and never.


This contrasts with the present progressive (present continuous), which is used to refer to something taking place at the present moment: I am walking now; He is writing a letter at the moment.

It is also used with stative verbs in senses that do not use progressive aspect (see Uses of English verb forms § Progressive), to refer to a present or general state, whether temporary, permanent or habitual:

The simple present is also used to state facts:

It can similarly be used when quoting someone or something, even if the words were spoken in the past:

It can be used to refer to a single completed action, as in recounting the events of a story in the present tense (see historical present), and in such contexts as newspaper headlines, where it replaces the present perfect:

Simple present is sometimes used to refer to an arranged future event, usually with a reference to time:

It is used when providing a commentary on events as they occur:

Similarly, it is also used when describing events in some theoretical or planned situation that is under consideration:

It is used in many dependent clauses referring to the future, particularly condition clauses, clauses expressing place and time, and many relative clauses (see Uses of English verb forms § Dependent clauses):

Simple present is also used in zero conditional sentences in both parts of the sentence.[4]

In certain situations, like in a temporal adverbial clause, simple present is used rather than the present progressive:

In colloquial English, it is common to use can see, can hear for the present tense of see, hear, etc., and have got for the present tense of have (denoting possession). See Uses of English verb forms § Have got and can see.

See also


  1. ^ "Simple Present Tense". Ginseng English. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  2. ^ Using the Third Person Singular (he, she, it) in the Present Tense
  3. ^ Verb Tenses: Simple Present
  4. ^ Zero Conditional | English Grammar Guide | EF Education First