Present Simple

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Present Simple
This is a practical oversimplification which will be right most of the time. For more detailed information see Mastery of the Tenses!
Main Uses for the Present Simple
For routines and habits
  • I go for a run every morning.
  • They always go camping in France.
  • I call him whenever I can.
For things that are permanent or always true
  • The shop opens at 9am.
  • Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
  • I am British.
For schedules, timetables, fixed events
  • The film starts at 9.
  • The plane leaves at 15.30.
  • The museum opens in November.
For instructions
  • Turn right at the lights and go straight on.
  • How do I turn this on?
  • First you fry the onions and then you add the spices.
For state verbs, usually.
eg agree, believe, hate, know, like, love, prefer, understand, smell, etc
  • He doesn't understand the book.
    • NOT He isn't understanding the book.
  • I don't believe in meditation
    • NOT I am not believing in meditation
Present Simple in IF structures
For Zero Conditionals
  • If the book is late, you pay a fine.
  • If he says he loves you, he means it.
  • If you know the answer, tell me!
For First Conditionals, IF clause
  • If it rains, I will...
  • If I study hard, I will...
  • If she calls me, he will...
Present Simple with Expressions of Time in the Future
After WHEN.
  • I'll phone you when I get home.
  • When you arrive, turn on the air conditioner.
After AS SOON AS when you mean ‘immediately after’.
  • As soon as I hear, I will let you know.
  • There'll be hell to pay as soon as he finds out!
After AFTER, the Present Perfect is also possible (with no change in meaning).
  • After I speak to you, I will go home.
  • After I have spoken to you, I will go home.
  • After I cook dinner and I have eaten it, then I will be happy.
With BEFORE when referring to the future.
  • Before the film starts, I would like to tell you that...
  • Tell her you love her before she leaves you!
After UNTIL.
  • Let's stay out until it gets dark.
  • The cat will stay asleep until he gets hungry.

Test Your Knowledge!


Which tense do we often use for schedules, timetables and fixed events?

Name the tense!

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The Present Simple


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The plane leaves at 15.30.


Practice Your Knowledge!