Thinking Box

Fundamentals of English Grammar - Chapter 1: Present Time

1-1 Simple Present and Present Progressive

Simple Present

  • (a) Ann takes a shower every day.
    (b) I usually read the newspaper in the morning.
    (c) Babies cry. Birds fly.
    (d) NEGATIVE: It doesn't snow in Bangkok.
    (e) QUESTION: Does the teacher speak slowly?

    The SIMPLE PRESENT expresses daily habits or usual activities, as in (a) and (b).
    The Simple present expresses general statements of fact, as in (c).

    In general, the simple present is used for events or situations that exist always, usually, or habitually in the past, present, and future.

Present Progressive

  • (f) Ann can't come to the phone right now because she is taking a shower.
    (g) I am reading my grammar book right now.
    (h) Jimmy and Susie are babies. They are crying. I can hear them right now. Maybe They are hungry.
    (i) NEGATIVE: It isn't snowing right now.
    (j) QUESTION: Is the teacher speaking right now?

    The PRESENT PROGRESSIVE expresses an activity that is in progress (is occurring, is happening) right now.

    The event is in progress at the time the speaker is saying the sentence. The event began in the past, is in progress now, and will probably continue into the future.

    FORM: am, is are + -ing

1-2 Forms of the Simple Present and the Present Progressive

Simple Present / Present Progressive

    I work. / I am working.
    You work. / You are working.
    He, She, It work. / He, She, It is working.
    We work. / We are working.
    They work. / They are working.
    I do not work. / I am not working.
    You do not work. / You are not working.
    He, She, It does not work. / He, She, It is not working.
    We do not work. / We are not working.
    They do not work. / They are not working.
    Do I work? / Am I working?
    Do you work? / Are you working?
    Do he, she, it work? / Is he, she, it working?
    Do we work? / Are we working?
    Do they work? / Are they working?


  • pronoun + be
    I + am = I'm working.
    you, we, they + are = You're, We're, They're working.
    he, she, it + is = He's, She's, It's working.
  • do + not
    does + not = doesn't / she doesn't work.
    do + not = don't / I don't work.
  • be + not
    is + not = isn't / He isn't working.
    are + not = aren't / They aren't working.
    (am + not = am not* / I am not working.)

*NOTE: am and not are not contracted.

1-3 Frequency Adverbs

  • positive: always / almost always / usually / often / frequently / generally / sometimes / occasionally
    negative: seldom / rarely / hardly ever / almost never / not ever, never

    Frequency adverbs usually occur in the middle of a sentence and have special positions, as shown in examples (a) through (e) below.

    The adverbs in boldface may also occur at the beginning or the end of a sentence.
    I sometimes get up at 6:30.
    Sometimes I get up at 6:30.
    I get up at 6:30 sometimes.

    The other adverbs in the list (not in boldface) rarely occur at the beginning or the end of a sentence. Their usual position is in the middle of a sentence.

  • (a) Karen(s) always(FREQ ADV) tells(V) the truth.

    Frequency adverbs usually come between the subject and the simple present verb except main verb be.

    INCORRECT: Always Karen tells the truth.

  • (b) Karen(s) is(BE) always(FREQ ADV) on time.

    Frequency adverbs follow be in the simple present (am, is, are) and simple past (was, were).

  • (c) Do you always eat breakfast?

    In a question, frequency adverbs come directly after the subject.

  • (d) Ann usually doesn't eat breakfast.
    (e) Sue doesn't always eat breakfast.

    In a negative sentence, most frequency adverbs come in front of a negative verb (except always and ever).
    Always follows a negative helping verb, as in (e), or a negative form of be.

  • CORRECT: Anna never eats meat.
    INCORRECT: Anna doesn't never eat meat.

    Negative adverbs (seldom, rarely, hardly ever, never) are NOT used with a negative verb.

  • (g) Do you ever take the bus to work?
    -> Yes, I do, I often take the bus.
    (h) I don't ever walk to work.
    INCORRECT: I ever walk to work.

    Ever is used in questions about frequency, as in (g). It means "at any time."
    Ever is also used with not, as in (h).
    Ever is NOT used in statements.

1-4 Singular /Plural

  • (a) SINGULAR: one bird
    (b) PLURAL: two birds, three birds, many birds, all birds, etc.

    SINGULAR = one, not two or more
    PLURAL = two, three, or more

  • (c) Birds sing.
    (d) A bird sings

    A plural noun ends in -s, as in (c).
    A singular verb ends in -s, as in (d).

  • (e) A bird sings outside my window.
    It sings loudly.
    Ann sings beautifully.
    She sings songs to her children.
    Tom sings very well.
    He sings professionally.

    A singular verb follows a singular subject.
    Add -s the simple present verb if the subject is
    (1) a singular noun (e.g., a bird, Ann, Tom) or
    (2) he, she, or it.

1-5 Spelling of Final -s/-es

  • (a) visit -> visits
    speak -> speaks
    (b) ride -> rides
    write -> writes

    Final -s, not -es, is added to most verbs.
    INCORRECT: visites, speakes

    Many verbs end in -e. Final -s is simply added.

  • (c) catch -> catches
    wash -> washes
    miss -> misses
    fix -> fixes
    buzz -> buzzes

    Final -es is added to words that end in -ch, -sh, -s, -x, and -z.

    Final -es is pronounced /ǝz/ and adds a syllable.

  • (d) fly -> flies
    (e) pay -> pays

    If a word ends in a consonant + -y, change the -y to -i and add -es, as in (d).
    INCORRECT: flys

    if a word ends in a vowel + -y, simply add -s,* as in (e).
    INCORRECT: paies or payes

  • (f) go -> goes
    do -> does
    have -> has

    The singular forms of the verbs go, do, and have are irregular.

*Vowels = a, e, i, o, u. Consonants = all other letter in the alphabet.

1-6 Non-Action Verbs

  • (a) I know Ms. Chen.
    INCORRECT: I am knowing Ms.Chen.
    (b) I'm hungry. I want a sandwich.
    INCORRECT: I am wanting a sandwich.
    (c) This book belongs to Mikhail.
    INCORRECT: This book is belonging to Mikhail.

    Some verbs are generally not used in progressive tenses.
    These verbs are called "non-action verbs."* They express a situation that exists, not an action in progress.

  • Non-action Verbs
    hear / believe / be / own / need / like / forget
    see / think / exist / have / want / love / remember
    sound / understand / possess / prefer / hate
    know / seem / belong / agree / mean / look like / disagree

    (d) I think that grammar is easy.
    (e) I am thinking about grammar right now.
    (f) Tom has a car.
    (g) I'm having a good time.

    Think and have can be used in the progressive.
    In (d): When think means "believe," it is non-progressive.
    In (e): When think expresses thoughts that are going through a person's mind, it can be progressive.
    In (f): When have means "own" or expresses possession, it is not used in the progressive.
    In (g): In expressions where have does not mean "own"(e.g., have a good time, have a bad time, have trouble, have a problem, have lunch, have lunch, have a snack, have company, have an operation), have can be used in the progressive.

*Non-action verbs are also called "non-progressive" or "stative" verbs

1-7 Present Verbs: Short Answers to Yes/No Questions


  • Does Bob like tea?
    -> Yes, he does. / Yes, he likes tea.
    -> No, he doesn't. / No, he doesn't like tea.
  • Do you like tea?
    -> Yes, I do. / Yes, I like tea.
    -> No, I don't. / No, I don't like tea.


  • Are you studying?
    -> Yes, I am.* / Yes, I am (I'm) studying.
    -> No, I'm not. / No, I'm not studying.
  • Is Yoko a student?
    -> Yes she is.* / Yes, she is (she's) a student.
    -> No, I'm not. / No, I'm not studying.
  • Are they studying?
    -> Yes, they are.* / Yes, they are (they're) studying.
    -> No, they're not. OR / No, they're not studying. OR
    -> No, they aren't. / No, they aren't studying.

*Am, is, and are are NOT contracted with pronouns in short answers.
INCORRECT SHORT ANSWERS: Yes, I'm. Yes, she's. Yes, they're.