If you’re looking for simple present tense exercises to test yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find three different simple present exercises to try so you can determine your understanding of this tense. The quizzes are easy to do. Simply fill in the blank spot with what you believe to be the correct simple present tense for each sentence (the verb to be used is in parentheses). When you’re finished, you’ll automatically be given your score, as well as shown which, if any, exercise questions you missed. Good luck with the exercises!
The Simple Present Tense
While the “simple present tense” may sound intimidating, this really isn’t the case. You use this tense naturally all the time. The rules and applications are as simple as the name is not. So take three deep breaths and read on… It all comes down to the verb or “doing word”. Except for one exception which we’ll look at later, you use it in the present tense, even though the thing it describes may not be happening at this particular moment. Let’s look at some examples:
You do something often or repeatedly
That’s one of the times you use this tense. For example, you might say: “I write at my desk” or “He writes at his desk.” It may also be something that you or someone else repeatedly doesn’t do: “I don’t write at my desk,” or: “He doesn’t write at his desk.”
You may not be writing at your desk right at the moment, but it’s something you do, so you use the present tense to describe an existing habit – or a habit you currently don’t have, as we saw in the example.
Of course, that could be a question too: “Do you write at your desk?” or “Does he write at his desk?” The verb is present tense: “write” not “wrote”.
Now let’s look at things that habitually happen (or don’t happen). You may say “The bus leaves at 8:00 AM,” or, “The bus never leaves at 8:00 AM!” Turn it into a question, and you have “Does the bus leave at 8:00 AM?”
In every case, you see the verb, in these examples, “write” or “leave” happening in the present tense. You wouldn’t say “Does the bus left at 8:00AM?” would you? And if you were to say “I wrote at my desk,” there’d be no indication of it being something you still do on a regular basis. In fact, it would look like something you don’t do anymore, or don’t plan to do again until further notice.
Make a generalization or tell it like it is
You’re not telling it like it was – so obviously, the present tense in its simple form will fit the bill. So you might say “Dogs like to play ball.” The same goes for the generalized question “Do dogs like to play ball?”
As you can see, this isn’t hard. Our ‘dogs’ example is a generalization, let’s look at a fact: “Paris is the capital of France.” There’s no arguing with that, is there? Your use of the simple present tense tells your listener that you’re talking about an existing situation that you expect won’t change overnight. To stretch our example a little further, you could be denying or asking about a fact or a generalization. “Paris is not the capital of Spain,” or “Is Paris the capital of France?” You can even use this tense to tell lies: “Paris is the capital of Spain.” Yes, it’s silly, but it’s still grammatically correct.
Things that you expect to happen
If you’re expecting something to happen pretty soon, you can use either the future tense or the simple present tense. Thus, it would be correct to say “The flight will board at 6:00AM.” But you could just as easily say: “The flight boards at 6:00 AM,” and it would be as correct as our future tense example. As before, you can turn it into a question: “Does the flight board at 6:00AM?” which is just as correct as its future tense relative “Will the flight board at 6:00AM?” Yes! It’s happening now – or maybe it isn’t…
This is the simplest use of the simple present tense. It’s happening, or it’s supposed to be, but isn’t, or you want to know if it is happening. “I am available now.” “I am not available now.” “Are you available now?” Easy peasy, right?
Look for the adverb!
Habits will often be expressed with an adverb such as “sometimes”, “often”, “always” or “never”. You may not use the adverb, but it could be placed if you desired. For example, “I write at my desk.” You could put “always” or “never” into the example, and it would be correct (I always write at my desk” or “I never write at my desk”. The same goes for “only”, “ever”, “still” “often” and “just”.
If your spouse were to ask: “Do you often stop at the pub on the way back from the gym?” that’s also simple present tense. You might reply “No, I only go to the gym,” or “No, I never stop at the pub.” Of course, the truthful response may be “Yes, I often stop at the pub,” but whatever the reply, you’re using the simple present tense – as did your spouse.
Active and passive voice (just to freak you out)
Depending on whether you’re using active or passive voice, your simple present tense verb may fall into the past tense. Crazy? Not really. Here’s an example: “The dog catches the ball.” That’s clearly active voice. The first noun (dog) acts out the verb (catches).
But if you say “The ball is caught by the dog,” magic happens. Because the first noun (ball) is acted upon by an external agency (the dog), who performs the verb (to catch) the verb becomes past tense. This works with any passive voice simple present tense sentence: “The moon is illuminated by the sun,” or “The barking is done by the dog” or “The stock exchange is affected by the value of the dollar.”
Those are the basic rules when it comes to the simple present tense in English. If you weren’t able to get 100% on the exercises above, you can now try again with your new knowledge of how this tense works!