Are you a teacher looking to brush up on your tenses? Understanding how the present simple tense works are essential in teaching English as a second language.
This blog post will guide you through all the helpful information and strategies you need to explain this critical tense confidently.
From describing when it’s used, common mistakes students make, and valuable activities that allow learners to practice using the tense, this article will provide a comprehensive look at mastering the structure of today’s topic – The Present Simple Tense.
Related: For more, check out our article on What Is The Past Simple Tense here.
The Present Simple Tense
The present simple tense is one of the most common tenses used in English grammar. It describes actions that are occurring or have occurred in the present, including regular ongoing activities, facts, and habits.
To form the present simple tense, use the base form of the verb: for example, ‘eat’ instead of ‘eating’ or ‘talk’ instead of ‘talking. This tense can be used with both singular and plural nouns and verbs.
The present simple tense is often confused with other tenses, such as the present continuous (the present progressive) and the present perfect.
The difference between these tenses lies in when each is used; for example, while the present simple tense is used to describe ongoing or repeated activities, such as habits, hobbies or regularly occurring events, the continuous form is more appropriate for talking about something that has just begun or something that will happen in a short amount of time. For example:
Present Simple: I always watch television before bed.
Present Continuous: I am watching a movie right now.
In addition to conveying different kinds of activities, each tense serves a specific purpose within a sentence; for example, when comparing or contrasting two things, using contrasting verbs with both tenses can help clarify ideas and make writing more effective.
Teaching Children the Present Simple Tense
Children can benefit greatly from understanding English grammar basics, particularly by mastering the present simple tense.
Teaching children this critical skill requires an engaging and motivating approach. Here are some tips for teaching children the present simple tense:
Provide plenty of examples: The best way to teach a concept is through clear examples that children can easily understand.
Use everyday objects or situations to explain how something is done in the present simple tense, such as “We wear our shoes every day” or “I brush my teeth twice a day”.
Engage with creative activities: Kids learn best when they’re having fun. Make learning about grammar enjoyable by giving them hands-on activities that involve creating sentences.
This could mean putting together a story using present simple verbs, making posters with common nouns and present simple verbs, or even playing games like charades where they must act out different sentences in the present simple tense.
Introduce new language gradually: When introducing new words and phrases, start slowly and increase complexity to ensure kids are ready for more challenging concepts and exercises.
Start with basic things such as regular habits (i.e., brushing your teeth) before moving on to a more complicated language structure (i.e., going to the cinema).
Don’t be afraid to use technology: Technology can be an excellent tool for teaching young children grammar since it provides visual cues and allows them to interact with content engagingly.
Utilize computer games, apps and videos that feature present tenses (both regular and irregular) as part of your lesson plan so kids can get used to hearing native-level English spoken aloud by native speakers.
Present Simple Tense Examples
The present simple tense is a cornerstone of English grammar, and understanding its usage is crucial for effective communication. Can you see how it’s used to express habits, general truths, repeated actions, and permanent situations? Let’s dive into some examples:
1. Daily Habits:
- I wake up at 6 a.m. every day.
- She writes in her journal each morning.
- They walk their dogs in the evenings.
2. General Truths:
- The sun rises in the east.
- Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
- Trees produce oxygen.
3. Repeated Actions:
- He takes the bus to work.
- We visit our grandparents every summer.
- They play soccer on the weekends.
4. Permanent Situations:
- She works as a teacher.
- I live in New York City.
- He owns a small bookstore.
5. Feelings and States:
- I love chocolate.
- She believes in hard work.
- They feel happy when they’re together.
Lesson Plan: Teaching Children the Present Simple Tense
- Students will be able to understand and correctly use the present simple tense in sentences.
- Students can differentiate between verbs in the present simple tense and past tense.
- Start the lesson by asking the students if they know what a ‘verb’ is. Write the definition on the board/screen.
- Introduce the concept of ‘tense’: the form a verb takes to show the time the action occurs. Write a few examples of present tense and past tense verbs, including ‘play’ and ‘played’.
- In today’s lesson, we will focus on the present simple tense.
- Show examples of present simple tense, such as ‘I play with my dog’ and ‘He studies every day’.
- Ask the students to think of examples of the present simple tense themselves.
Main Teaching Points:
Explain to the students that the present simple tense usually describes something that happens regularly or continuously.
Write some examples of present simple tense sentences on the board/screen, such as ‘I eat breakfast every morning’ and ‘She walks to school’.
Explain that to make a present simple tense sentence; we usually add an ‘-s’ to the end of the verb when the subject is he, she or it.
Model this by writing a couple of sentences on the board/screen with and without the ‘-s’ at the end of the verb. Encourage the students to make similar sentences themselves.
Give out worksheets for students to complete independently or in pairs, asking them to fill in the blanks with the correct present simple tense verb.
- Ask the students if they feel they better understand the present simple tense.
- Ask them what they found difficult or easy about the lesson.
- Ask if they have any questions or if there is anything they want to go over again.
- What is a verb?
- What is tense?
- What is the present simple tense used for?
- How do we make a current simple sentence when the subject is he, she or it?
Q: What is the present simple tense?
A: The present simple tense is a verb tense used to describe regular or repeated actions or situations that exist permanently or habitually. It is formed by adding -s or -es to the base form of the verb when the subject is a third-person singular (he, she, it). For example, “She plays the piano every day.”
Q: When should I use the present simple tense?
A: The present simple tense is often used to describe habits, schedules and routines, facts, general truths, and states of being. It is not used to describe actions happening at the moment of speaking. For example, “I eat breakfast at 7 am every day.”
Q: What is the difference between the present simple and continuous tense?
A: The present continuous tense describes ongoing and temporary actions happening at the moment of speaking, while the present simple tense describes habitual or permanent actions. For example, “I am eating breakfast right now” (present continuous) vs “I eat breakfast at 7 am every day” (present simple).
Q: Can the present simple tense be used for future events?
A: Yes, the present simple tense can describe future scheduled or planned events, especially timetables and schedules. For example, “The train leaves at noon tomorrow.”
Q: How does the present simple tense change for negative and interrogative sentences?
A: When making negative sentences, the auxiliary verb “do” or “does” is used along with “not” before the base form of the verb. For example, “She does not play tennis.” The auxiliary verb “do” or “does” is used in interrogative sentences before the subject. For example, “Do you play tennis?” or “Does she play tennis?”