Affirmative sentences 

Full form:

subject + base form or third person singular form of verb

  • “I wake up at 9am every day.”
  • “The sun rises in the east.”
Negative sentences 

Full form:

subject + “do/does not” + base form of verb

Contracted form:

subject + “don’t/doesn’t” + base form of verb

  • “I don’t like to do my taxes.”
  • “The sun doesn’t rise in the west.”

Full forms:

(a) “do/does” + subject + base form of verb

(b) question word + “do/does” + subject + base form of verb

  • Does she work?”
  • What do you do?”
Negative questions

It is possible to make negative questions even though their uses are quite specific. [See also: Negative questions]

The structure for full forms and contracted forms are slightly different. Contracted forms are preferred in general.

Contracted forms:

(a) “don’t/doesn’t” + subject + base form of verb

(b) question word + “don’t/doesn’t” + subject + base form of verb

Full forms:

(a) “do/does” + subject + “not” + base form of verb

(b) question word + “do/does” + subject + “not” + base form of verb

  • Doesn’t she work?”
  • Does she not work?”


Even though this is called the “present simple tense,” its variety of uses means that the timeline can “change” depending on how you use the tense.

Repeated actions like habits and routines imply they happen all the time.

Similarly, facts, general truths are always true or always happen.

Or one can express feelings, reactions or intentions at the time of speaking. This is because the associated verbs are often stative and are not normally used in their present participle forms.

Interestingly, the present simple can also be used to describe past events, which is something also known as the “historical present.” This is often used in newspaper headlines, important historical events, and storytelling.

Uses of the Present simple tense

1.   To talk about habitual actions or routines.
  • “I have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.”
  • “She doesn’t play tennis very often.”
2.   To talk about facts or permanent situations.
  • “The sun rises in the east.”
  • “She doesn’t know how to drive.”
3.   To express feelings or reactions at the moment of speaking.

This is often used with verbs of senses and perception, such as “feel,” “look,” “taste” etc.

  • “I smell something good.”
  • “I don’t like the colour on you.”
4.   To express intent.

This is usually used with speech act verbs, such as “promise,” “intend,” “request” etc.

  • “I promise to pay you back when I get paid.”
  • “She doesn’t agree with the proposal.”
5.   For giving directions and instructions.
  • Go straight and then turn on your second left.”
  • Attach the cradle to the mount by turning it clockwise to tighten.”
6.   For telling stories in the present tense.
  • “I open the door to find myself face-to-face with a monster.”
7.   Newspaper headlines.
  • “Stock market falls to an all time low.”
8.   Commentaries.

This can either be a spoken description as an event happens either on radio or TV, or a set of written remarks that explains a subject or expresses an opinion on it.

  • “Beckham passes to Robinson who shoots and scores!”
  • “Alternative medicine helps your body do its own healing.”
9.   To state historical events in sequence.

The past simple can also be used for this purpose.

  • “1971: McDonald’s Australia opens its first restaurant in Sydney. 1985: Ronald McDonald House Charities becomes a registered Australian charity.”

Original post: 23 September 2020