Hey there! This is TOP episode 60: Present Simple Tense. Forms.

My name’s Ola and I am an English teacher. My goal is to help you start speaking English with confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. I believe it is achievable for you. And it’s time you started speaking English fearlessly! Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning! 

Hello again, welcome to today’s episode. I hope you’re doing well and everything is alright. In the last episode about grammar, we finally finished dealing with conditionals. I am happy to announce a brand new series. This series is all about tenses. Yay! Finally! I don’t even count how many times I am asked by the students to finally, once and for all clarify the tenses. It usually takes place during the first few lessons. We need to quickly equip the student with the tools crucial for communication. Present simple is not that simple. Let me tell you this one more time. Nothing is simple until you learn it, practice and in the end use fluently. I want these episodes to be short and sweet. 

I’m all about giving you condensed and deep  but not overloaded bits of knowledge. That’s why I’ve decided to take it slow. Today’s episode will teach you how to form the present simple tense. 

So how’s today’s episode going to look like? Let me break it down for you. We’ll start with the verb ‘to be’. How to make questions, what’s inversion, open questions, many students struggle with open questions so we’ll sort it out. How to contract negative sentences. Is it ‘she isn’t’ or ‘she’s not’ and what’s the difference?  How to pronounce the contracted form of ‘they are’? 

Then we’ll move on to all other verbs, other than ‘to be’. Because ‘to be’ is so special but all the other verbs are not and all of them behave in the same way. We’ll go through the pattern. When to use ‘do’ and ‘does’, how to make questions and negations. 

All along the way you’ll have plenty of sentences to repeat out loud right after me. During this episode. This is active listening, so if you’re multitasking, it’s time to put everything away and focus 100% on this lesson. Don’t forget we are also practicing proper pronunciation. 

Even though this episode is all about grammar we want to make sure we’re able to convey the message. Clearly. The correct pronunciation is crucial. So whenever you repeat after me, make sure you pay attention to your pronunciation. Ok. I think we’re ready to jump in to the main part. 

How to form present simple tense? It’s really important since this tense is used a lot in English. First, sentences with the verb ‘to be’. Listen to this super simple example and repeat, of course:

You are happy. 

The person (or the subject – ‘you’), the verb ‘to be’ in the correct form (‘are’) ‘you are’ and the rest of the sentence. In this example it’s just ‘happy’. 

You are happy.

Now. How to make a negative sentence? By adding the word ‘not’ to the verb ‘to be’. Listen and repeat all three options:

You are not happy. 

You’re not happy.

You aren’t happy.

Which one is the best then?  We normally don’t use full forms. 

You are not happy. 

You’ll sound like a robot using it. However, you might do exactly it for the sake of emphasis. Just to make it absolutely clear that ‘You are happy’. Ok? Right. On the other hand, spoken emphasis can happen in contracted words as well. For example: ‘You aren’t happy’. Or ‘You’re not happy’. So the way you decide to place the accent is everything. 

So, is it ‘You’re not happy’ or ‘You aren’t happy’. The choice is yours, there’s no difference. Or should I rather say the difference is subtle. Tiny. Think about saying this sentence in a flat tone. I’d say that the sentence: You’re not happy, even though I say it in a flat tone ‘you’ is emphasised slightly, ok? Similarly, in the sentence ‘You aren’t happy’ there’s a slight emphasis on ‘not’. ‘You aren’t happy.’ Nevertheless there’s no difference in meaning, right. Both are 100% correct. 

Ok, now, how to make questions with the verb ‘to be’? One word for you:  inversion. We have to exchange the position of the person with the verb ‘to be’. Listen and repeat:

Are you happy?

Is she happy?

These questions: Are you? Is she? Are we? Are they? Are you? Is it? are called yes/no questions. 

The only way to answer them is to say: yes, she is; yes, we are; yes, I am; yes, they are. Or: No, I’m not; no, she isn’t; no, they aren’t; no, you’re not; no, it isn’t. You know what? I think, for the sake of pronunciation you should practice. I know you might think you don’t need it because it’s that simple. But, give it a shot. Maybe you never focus on pronunciation? These words are so common in everyday life it would be great to get them right. Please repeat:

Are you? 

Is she? 

Are we? 

Are they? 

Are you? 

Is it? 

Yes, she is.

Yes, we are.

Yes, I am.

Yes, they are. 

No, I’m not.

No, she isn’t.

No, they aren’t.

No, you’re not.

No, it isn’t.

Good job! Well done. Ok, there’s one more issue to think about. What about open questions? They’re also called Wh-questions. They start with words like: why, where, who, what, when, how, how often, how much, how many, how long, and so on.  

The structure of the question stays the same. Please remember this. You don’t change the order. In object questions. Today we’re only talking about object questions. Oh, forget this sentence. Subject questions is just a different topic for a different episode.  It’s always the verb ‘to be’ first, then the person and then the object. All you have to do is to add the question word at the very beginning of your question. For example. Listen and repeat:

Why are you happy?

Where is she now?

When are you sad?

Time to practice even more. Say it out loud. If you want to start speaking, please start speaking right now. To yourself.  Listen and repeat positive sentences, negative sentences, with contraction, without contraction, all kinds! Listen and repeat.

He’s French.

We’re happy to be here.

Is she a footballer?

Where is the teacher?

They’re from Egypt.

And let’s stop here for a while. They are from Egypt. After contracting it’s: They’re from Egypt. So it’s not ‘their’ We don’t pronounce the /j/ sound. They’re. Forget it. It’s just ‘they’re’ ‘they’re’. Like in ‘There are many books in a bookstore. There are. There. 

They’re from Egypt. Let’s get back on track. Repeat after me.

They’re from Egypt.

They’re married.

They’re happy together.

We aren’t satisfied.

She’s not tired.

He isn’t the right person. 

Are you a nurse?

Is she a doctor?

How long is the film?

Who’s your GP?
Well done. Let’s move on to all the other verbs out there. ‘To be’ is just a specific example. The rule for all the other verbs is the same. 

When it comes to affirmative sentences, positive statements, all you need to remember is to add the letter ‘s’ to the main verb if the sentence is about the third person singular. He, she, it. You might say now that it’s easy. Well, I try to avoid saying that something is easy. I don’t know that. It’s easy for me now, however I remember very well the time when it was not easy. I mean the rule is simple but implementation is a whole different story. Even advanced students make this mistake of not adding the letter ‘s’ to the main verb. Being fluent  takes practice, effort and time. The more you speak the better. Even if it’s just repeating after me. For now. I’m sure you’ll move on as soon as you start to feel more confident. So, let’s practice. Listen and repeat:

She goes to school every day.

He watches TV every evening.

It never stops raining in here.

We don’t add the letter ‘s’ to: I, you, we, or they. Listen and repeat:

They observe me closely.

I study English.

You look amazing.

We like you.

Well done. Questions. To form a question with any verb apart from ‘to be’ which we’ve covered few minutes ago, you need an auxiliary verb, that is a little helper, a verb that means nothing in this case. You don’t translate it into Polish. Don’t go there. Unfortunately the same word acts as a main verb. I think this might be one of few sources of our problems in learning English. The verb I’m talking about is the verb ‘do’, for the third person singular its ‘does’. Notice the pronunciation. Does. I know you see the letter ‘s’ you want to read it. I get it. Does.You’ll be understood. That’s fine. But, if you want to sound a bit more natural pronounce it with the sound /z/. Voiced sound /z/. Not /s/ which is unvoiced, but /z/. does. 

Ok, coming back to translating ‘do’ and ‘does’ as auxiliaries into Polish. I’ve told you not to do it. And I’d like to make sure it’s clear for you. If you try to translate ‘do’ or ‘does’ in affirmative sentences, for example: ‘Do I know you?’, you might translate it into ‘Czy ja znam Ciebie?’. So you might treat the auxiliary verb ‘do’ or ‘does’ as the Polish word ‘czy’. And that is wrong. Because how to approach negations? I don’t know you. I do not know you. So… ‘do’ is not ‘czy’ anymore, is it? 

What I would recommend you is: don’t translate auxiliary verbs. They don’t have equivalents in Polish language. Treat them as elements of the construction. As vehicles. It’s a shame in my opinion that they sound and look exactly the same as main verbs. ‘Do’ means ‘robić’. But not here. Not here. Auxiliaries mean nothing. Listen and repeat:

What do you do? 

This question is a good example. ‘What do you do?’ Well, the first ‘do’ acts as an auxiliary verb and we cannot translate it. The second ‘do’ is our main verb. Right? What do you do? By the way. What do you do? I’m so curious! Please let me know! Seriously. What do you do? I’m a teacher. What do you do? Tell me in the comments. 

Start your questions with the auxiliary verb ‘do’ or ‘does’ for the third person singular and then the person. Do you. Finally, add a verb. Be careful, this time you don’t add ‘s’ for the third person singular. It’s already there, attached to ‘do’, that’s why we use ‘does’ for the third person singular. There’s no need to add it again. One is enough. We signal, mark the third person singular just once. 

There are many rules in English and there are even more exceptions. I’d even say that roughly every rule is broken. Every rule in English grammar is broken, there are so many exceptions. But for this one? Correct me if I’m wrong but I think there’s no exception for adding ‘s’ in the third person singular. 

Ok. Open questions? Well, stick to the pattern. Do you like football?  Auxiliary, person, verb.  Do you like. All you have to do now is to add the question word at the beginning of your question. Why do you like football? So this is a common mistake here, when we forget the auxiliary in open questions. Really important! We’re tempted to say, and these are mistakes: Why Ana lies? Where you work? When you study? While it should be: ‘Why does Ana lie? Where do you work? When do you study? Listen and repeat:

Why does Ana lie?

Where do you work?

When do you study?

How to make negations? By adding ‘not’ to our auxiliary verb. ‘Don’t’ or ‘doesn’t’. Doesn’t is for the third person singular only and if you use it don’t add ‘s’ to the main verb anymore. It’s like in questions. 

You don’t need to signal the third person singular twice. Once is enough. Now let’s practice. Say all the examples out loud. Listen to your own voice, get used to it, get familiar with how you sound in English. Let’s do this:

I play squash every Monday.

She doesn’t love him.

Do you smoke?

How often do you go on holiday?

The sky isn’t green.

The word smart means ‘intelligent’.

What does it mean?

I want a new car.

She is short and has long hair.

You look fantastic.

I don’t know the answer.

I’m not American. 

Is she bored?

When does the film start?

The train leaves every 20 minutes.

Are you interested?

Does she want to come?

They’re retired.

Here you have it, that’s all for today from me. But you’re not done yet! Now download the worksheet. By the way, if you’ve subscribed to my newsletter you receive the worksheet every week. So go ahead and subscribe! How to subscribe? Download the worksheet. Download the first worksheet from my website. It’s teacherola.com/60. 

Remember to answer my question. What do you do? Go to teacherola.com/60 and leave a comment! 

If you find this episode useful tell your friends about me. And in the next episode, we’ll be focusing on pronunciation. 

Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next Wednesday! Happy learning. Bye!