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February 23, 2012 / dlw43

The Simple Present – Verb Tense and Aspect Lesson (Part 2 of 13)

We begin at the beginning: The Simple Present.

If you have read the Tense and Aspect post, you know that tense and aspect are different.  (If you haven’t read that post and are not aware that tense and aspect are different, go here for a quick introduction.)

We will be examining each aspect in its present, past, and future tense. In other words, we’ll be discussing each box in the Verb Tense and Aspect Chart in separate posts. Download, print out, and follow along on the Verb Tense and Aspect Chart.

The Simple Present has four main uses: repeated actions, facts or generalizations, scheduled events in the near future, and now (but only with non-continuous or certain mixed verbs).

Repeated Actions:

Examples:

He plays video games. (Affirmative statement)

Does he play video games? (Question)

He does not play tennis. (Negative statement)

She swims every night. (Affirmative statement)

Does she swim every night? (Question)

She does not swim every night. (Negative statement)

Facts or Generalizations:

The blue line represents the idea that the fact or generalization applies to the past, present, and future. The fact or generalization is true now, and will be true in the future. The speaker presents an idea as a fact or generalization by conjugating the verb into the simple present. It is up to listeners to decide whether or not the speaker is correct.

Examples:

The world is round. (Fact)

Is the world round?

The world is not round.

Cats are playful. (Generalization)

Are cats playful?

Cats are not playful.

Scheduled Events in the Near Future:

This use of the Simple Present is equivalent to the Simple Future.  Each of the sentences below can be replaced with “will + verb”.  Native speakers tend to use Simple Present more frequently than the Simple Future when talking about scheduled events in the near future.

Examples:

His vacation begins tonight.

Does his vacation begin tonight?

His vacation does not begin tonight.

The Dodgers play in New York next month.

Do the Dodgers play in New York next month?

The Dodgers don’t play in New York next month.

Now (Non-Continuous Verbs):

It seems logical that we would use the Simple Present to express something happening now.  However, this use of the Simple Present is limited to non-continuous and certain mixed verbs.  (If you are not familiar with non-continuous and mixed verbs, click here.)

Examples:

She is here. (Non-Continuous Verb)

Is she here?

She is not here.

He feels sick. (Mixed Verb)

Does he feel sick?

He does not feel sick.

Next: The Simple Past

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