Simple Present Tense

Simple Present Tense – Definition and Concept

We have already defined the tense of the verb as the time of occurrence or execution of the verb with respect to the time of making the statement. One of the three tenses of the verb is the present tense, which is further classified into four types.

The simple present tense is that tense of the verb which is used when the verb is occurring now or generally occurs at the same time in which the statement is being made. A few examples below:

  • He prefers tea over coffee.
  • The union meets here once every two months.
  • It is always a pleasure to dine with you.

Simple present tense is used to signify activities that periodically occur. Thus, verbs expressed in the simple present tense are very frequently modified by adverbs of frequency.

The simple present tense is the only independent application of the root forms of the verbs and are used to convey general occurrence across all time frames, particularly the present time frame.

At the end of this article, the reader should be able to:

  • Understand the basic idea of Simple Present Tense
  • Understand Subject-Verb agreement for the Simple Present Tense
  • Understand the influence of auxiliaries and modals on Subject-Verb agreement
  • Study Simple Present Tense in the Passive Voice
  • Learn the Negative forms of sentences in the Simple Present Tense
  • Study the Interrogative forms of sentences in the Simple Present Tense

Simple Present Tense

As we’ve discussed above, Simple Present Tense is used to describe activities that occur regularly or occur at the time of statement. Let us take a few more examples to understand the idea:

  • Arvind is now available for an appointment.
  • The board thinks that you’re
  • I am at the dormitory now.
  • The master visits this place every Tuesday.
  • Do you believe in a higher power?

In each of the examples, we note how the verb shows the state of action or being of the noun or pronoun at the same time as the statement or regularly during the same frame of time as the statement. The fourth example shows regularity of the verb visits. Thus all of the verbs in these examples are in the Simple Present Tense.

Subject Verb Agreement (Noun-Verb agreement)

In the Simple Present Tense, Subject-Verb agreement is where we learn the general form of the verb for different nouns and pronouns. Since we have three persons (first, second and third) and two numbers (singular and plural) we study the different forms of the verb for all the six combinations:

First Person

  • I am a firm believer of the paranormal. (First person singular)
  • I don’t generally mix work with pleasure. (First person singular)
  • I might be able to get the codes tonight. (First person singular)
  • We can break for lunch and come back in 30 minutes. (First person plural)
  • We predict a 70% chance of rainfall today. (First person plural)

In each of the examples above, we see that the simple present tense of verbs usually take the root form of the verb, with the same form for both singular and plural first person pronouns.

First Person Singular form: Pronoun + (modal) + root form of verb

First Person Plural form: Pronoun + (modal) + root form of verb

Second Person

  • You could begin to comprehend the trouble you’ve put all of us in.
  • You are a terrible liar.
  • (You) deliver the package to the bishop.

In each of the examples above, we see that the simple present tense of verbs usually take the root form of the verb, with the same form for both singular and plural second person pronouns. In the third example, while making an imperative sentence (request, order, etc.) the subject pronoun ‘you’ is generally dropped.

Second Person Singular form: Pronoun + (modal) + root form of verb

Second Person Plural form: Pronoun + (modal) + root form of verb

Third Person

Nouns are generally in the third person, while pronouns can be of all persons. So nouns take the same form of the verb as third person pronouns. Examples include:

  • He is a firm believer of the paranormal. (Third person singular pronoun)
  • She doesn’t generally mix work with pleasure. (Third person singular pronoun)
  • They may just bring the whole house down today. (Third person plural pronoun)
  • The Dalai Lama currently resides in India. (Singular noun)
  • These machines presently process 35 bottles per minute. (Plural noun)

In each of the examples above, we see that the simple present tense of verbs usually take the root form of the verb. The root form for the plural third person pronouns and plural nouns remains the same, while the singular third person pronouns and singular nouns take the root form with suffix ‘–es’ or ­‘–s’. Observe the following examples:

  • He suffers from a unique form of dyslexia. (Third person singular; Root form suffer)
  • Robin plays second fiddle to the Batman. (Singular Noun; Root form play)
  • She slowly coaxes the suspect to take the deal. (Third person singular; Root form coax)
  • It adds to the momentum of the game. (Third person singular; Root form add)

Thus, we have the verb forms as:

Third Person Singular form: Noun/Pronoun + root of verb + suffix (‘-es’, ‘-s’) OR

Third Person Singular form: Noun/Pronoun + (modal) + root of verb

Third Person Plural form: Noun/Pronoun + (modal) + root of verb

Auxiliaries and Modals in Simple Present Tense

Auxiliaries and modals have the same function in a sentence: assist the verb. While auxiliaries change with the tense of the verb, modals do not.

Auxiliaries

In the Simple Present Tense, the auxiliary verbs generally act as main verbs and the main verbs do not need an auxiliary (in the active voice). Let us see a few examples where they act as main verbs:

  • I am a consultant at this firm. (First person singular pronoun)
  • We are on our way to the crash site. (First person plural pronoun)
  • You are a terrible liar. (Second person pronoun)
  • He is a firm believer of the paranormal. (Third person singular pronoun)
  • This performance is a treat to watch. (Singular noun)

In the passive voice, they act as auxiliaries. We will learn about passive voice in the next section.

Modals

Modals however can be used to enhance the meaning of the verb. Let us take a few examples:

  • I might be able to get the codes tonight. (First person singular)
  • We can break for lunch and come back in 30 minutes. (First person plural)
  • You could begin to comprehend the trouble you’ve put all of us in. (Second person)
  • They may just bring the whole house down today. (Third person plural pronoun)

For the third person singular nouns or pronouns, an addition of a modal causes a drop of the suffix. Let us take the examples for third person singular:

  • He suffers from a unique form of dyslexia. (Third person singular; Root form suffer)
  • Robin plays second fiddle to the Batman. (Singular Noun; Root form play)
  • She slowly coaxes the suspect to take the deal. (Third person singular; Root form coax)
  • It adds to the momentum of the game. (Third person singular; Root form add)

Now, observe the effect of addition of a modal:

  • He could suffer from a unique form of dyslexia. (Third person singular; Root form suffer)
  • Robin can play second fiddle to the Batman. (Singular Noun; Root form play)
  • She slowly might coax the suspect to take the deal. (Third person singular; Root form coax)
  • It may add to the momentum of the game. (Third person singular; Root form add)

The verbs are reduced to their root forms by the modal. Thus, the verb forms for third person singular would be:

Third Person Singular form: Noun/Pronoun + root of verb + suffix (‘-es’, ‘-s’) OR

Third Person Singular form: Noun/Pronoun + (modal) + root of verb

Simple Present Tense in Passive Voice

A sentence or a verb is in active voice when the subject is the executioner of the verb, while passive voice is when the subject is the recipient of the verb. With a change in voice, all pronouns and nouns take different forms of the verb. We explore that in this section.

From every type of person and number, we pick one example each from the previous sections.

First Person

  • Active: I don’t generally mix work and pleasure. (First person singular)
  • Passive: Work and pleasure aren’t generally mixed by me.
  • Active: We predict a 70% chance of rainfall today. (First person plural)
  • Passive: A 70% chance of rainfall is predicted (by us)

Second Person

  • Active: You must deliver the package to the bishop.
  • Passive: The package must be delivered (by you) to the bishop.

Third Person

  • Active: He might just bring the whole house down today. (Third person plural pronoun)
  • Passive: The whole house might just be brought down (by him)
  • Active: These machines presently process 35 bottles per minute. (Plural noun)
  • Passive: 35 bottles are processed by these machines per minute.

We make the following observations:

  • The primary verb takes the past participle form in the passive voice.
  • The present form of the auxiliary verb is always added to the verb.
  • Modals maintain their presence in the sentence without any change.
  • For all number and person of the noun or pronoun, the formation is the same.

Thus the formation of the passive form of a verb in the simple present tense would be

For all nouns/pronouns:

Noun/Pronoun + (modal) + Present form of Auxiliary + Past Participle form of Verb

Interrogative Sentences in the Simple Present Tense

Here, we study the rearrangement of words of a sentence with a change in type to interrogative sentences. Let us begin with a few examples from the previous sections:

  • He suffers from a unique form of Dyslexia.
  • Robin plays second fiddle to the Batman.
  • You could begin to comprehend the trouble you’ve put all of us in.
  • I am a consultant at this firm.
  • We predict the rainfall every weekend.
  • He is a firm believer of the paranormal.

The above sentences make a regular statement or what we call assert. Hence these are examples of assertive sentences. Let us now put these into the interrogative form:

  • Does he suffer from a unique form of Dyslexia?
  • Does Robin play second fiddle to the Batman?
  • Could you begin to comprehend the trouble you’ve put us in?
  • Am I a consultant at this firm?
  • Do we predict the rainfall every weekend?
  • Is he a firm believer of the paranormal?

The Observations:

From the above examples, we make the following inferences:

  • Sentences with no modals use the verb do to begin the interrogative form. (Example 5)
  • Sentences with no modal verbs and with the third person singular subject takes the verb form does to begin the interrogative form. (Example 1 & 2)
  • Sentences with modal verbs for all subjects are rephrased to begin with the auxiliary verb in the interrogative form. (Example 3)
  • Sentences with the present form of ‘be’ is used to begin the interrogative form. (Examples 4 & 6)
  • The modals reduce the main verb to the root form in all the interrogative sentences.

Thus the different interrogative forms of assertive sentences use the following formations:

  • Sentences without modal verbs:
    Do/Does + Subject Noun/Pronoun + Root form of the verb
  • Sentences with Present form of main verb be:

Is/Are/Am + Subject Noun/Pronoun

  • Sentences with modal verbs:

Modal + Subject Noun/Pronoun + Root form of the verb

Negative Sentences in the Simple Present Tense

What happens when we change the form of assertive sentences from positive to negative form?

Let us take the examples above again:

  • He suffers from a unique form of Dyslexia.
  • Robin plays second fiddle to the Batman.
  • You could begin to comprehend the trouble you’ve put all of us in.
  • I am a consultant at this firm.
  • We predict the rainfall every weekend.
  • He is a firm believer of the paranormal.

When we convert them into the negative form, we get:

  • He does not suffer from a unique form of Dyslexia.
  • Robin does not play second fiddle to the Batman.
  • You could not begin to comprehend the trouble you’ve put all of us in.
  • I am not a consultant at this firm.
  • We do not predict the rainfall every weekend.
  • He is not a firm believer of the paranormal.

The Observations:

From the above examples, we make the following inferences:

  • Sentences with no modal verb use the verb do to begin the negative form. (Example 5)
  • Sentences with no modal verbs and with the third person singular subject takes the verb form does to begin the negative form. (Example 1 & 2)
  • Sentences with modal verbs for all subjects are rephrased to begin with the auxiliary verb in the negative form. (Example 3)
  • Sentences with the present form of main verb ‘be’ is used to begin the negative form. (Examples 4 & 6)
  • The modal verbs reduce the main verb to the root form in all the negative sentences.

Thus the different interrogative forms of assertive sentences use the following formations:

  • Sentences without modal verbs:
    Subject Noun/Pronoun + do/does + not + Root form of the verb
  • Sentences with Present form of main verb be:

Subject Noun/Pronoun + is/are/am + not

  • Sentences with modal verbs:

Subject Noun/Pronoun + modal + not + Root form of the verb