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sexta-feira, 24 de junho de 2011

[GRAMMAR] Present Simple

Present Simple

First time here? You may want to see the list of basic facts about tenses.
Quick example:
  • live in New York.
  • We play football every day.
  • The meeting starts at 3 p.m.

The Present Simple is the most basic and common tense in the English language. It is also an interesting tense because it can express both the present and the future.
1.   Facts and generalization
2.   Habits and routines
3.   Permanent situations
4.   State verbs (e.g. be, have, think, know)
5.   Fixed / official arrangement that we can't change
6.   Narrations (e.g. telling a story or a joke)
Apart from the above uses, this tense is also used in:
o   Zero Conditional - If it rains, I go play football.
o   First Conditional We won't get our pocket money, if we don't pass this exam.
o   In sentences after "when""before""till""after""as soon as" ("Before you leave, please take the keys").
USE 1: Facts and Generalizations

The first and most important use of the Present Simple is to talk about things we believe are (or are not) true. It's also used to generalize about somebody or something.

  • It is a big house.
  • He talks a lot.
  • Berlin is the capital city of Germany.
  • Buenos Aires is a large city.
  • The Elephant doesn't fly.
  • Dogs don't smoke cigarettes.
  • A dog is not large than an elephant
  • London is the capital city of France. (Remember: the sentence doesn't have to be true)


In this cartoon, you can see a scientist who says: "The Earth goes around the Sun". 
  • Why is this in Present Simple? Because the scientist expresses a fact, something that he believes is true (in this case, he is right: the Earth really goes around the Sun).

USE 2: Habits and Routines

We also use this tense to indicate that an activity is a habit or a routine. 

  • We leave for work at 7.30 every morning.
  • Susan often meets with her friends after school.
  • They usually play football on Sunday.
  • Mark rarely visits his sick grandmother.

The Present Simple tense is often used with the frequency adverbs:
Adverbs of frequency
Adverbs of frequency say how often an activity happens. We can use one word or a phrase.
  • always
  • never
  • frequently/often
  • usually
  • seldom/rarely
  • nowadays
  • every week/year
  • sometimes/occasionally
  • from time to time
Here are a few examples of how to use them in sentences:
  • I always go to church on Sundays.
  • I never eat anything after 10 p.m.

In this cartoon, you can see a boy who says: "I play basketball every Friday" (click on the now button to see this). 
  • Why is this in Present Simple? Because the boy talks about a habit, something that he does regularly.

USE 3: Pernament Situations

Use the Present Simple to talk about situations in life that last a relatively long time. 

  • I live in Boston
  • He works as a fireman.
  • Margaret drives a Porshe.
  • Jerry doesn't teach maths at highschool.
USE 4: State Verbs

You should use the Present Simple with state verbs. 

  • I like swimming.
  • We know this man.
  • Margaret drives a Porshe.
  • Jerry doesn't teach maths at highschool.
USE 5: Fixed / Official arrangements

Use the Present Simple to talk about events that we can't change (for example, an official meeting or a train departure).

  • The meeting starts at 4 pm.
  • The train leaves at the noon.
  • When does the plane take off?
  • Jerry doesn't teach maths at highschool.

USE 6: Narrations

The Present Simple is also used in narrations (e.g. to tell a story or a joke).

  • A man goes to visit a friend and is amazed to find him playing chess with his dog. He watches the game in astonishment for a while [...]

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