Are You Making These Present Simple Mistakes?

Present Simple

You are learning or learned the present simple verb tense in your first ESL grammar class, but you still might be making these mistakes. Check your understanding and challenge yourself to master these rules.

The Present Simple Verb Tense

We use the present simple to talk about actions that are either normal or usual. These actions might be a habit, a hobby, or an event that frequently occurs.

Usually, you can add an -s or -es to the end of a base or infinitive verb (See examples below).

Base/Infinitive VerbPresent Simple Verb

Spelling Mistakes

Changing y to i

Are you changing your y’s to i’s? Verbs that end in -y, such as study are spelled differently.

To spell these verbs correctly, simply change the y to an i. Then add the -es to the end of the word (See examples below).

Base/Infinitive VerbSpelling ChangePresent Simple Verb

Sibilant Sounds to -es

What are sibilant sounds? These are sounds that you make by placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Letters such as ch, sh, ss, tch, x, and zz make sibilant sounds.

When a verb ends with these sounds, you need to change the spelling to end with an -es (See examples below).

Base/Infinitive VerbPresent Simple Verb

Grammar Mistakes

Be Versus Do

The negative verb tense is used to talk about actions or events that do not usually happen. Most of the time, we use the negative form of the verb do to express things that don’t happen. For example, to express the negative of the verb travel, you can say, I do not travel.

Be careful not to use the verb be when talking about things that do not usually happen. Saying, I am not travel is incorrect. We only use the verb to be when talking about our states of being, not our actions.

I, He, She, They, We, It

Always remember which pronouns require verbs that end in -s. Try to memorize these verb tenses so that you don’t make this simple mistake.

I/You/They/WeNo "s"
He/She/ItEnds with an "s"

Irregular Verbs

Some verbs are irregular and follow different rules (See below). The verbs go, do, be, and have are commonly used, so be sure you learn how to use them correctly.

Irregular VerbI/You/They/WeHe/She/It
BeI am
You/They/We are

Yes/No Question Form

When you ask questions, you should use the verb do. Be careful not to use the verbs be, go, or have.

For example, Does she walk to work? is correct. However, the sentence, Goes she to work? is incorrect.

Try to get into the habit of using do when asking a yes/no question so that you don’t make this simple mistake.

Exercises to Help You Avoid These Mistakes

Are you making these present simple mistakes in your English? There are many websites online where you can test yourself. Here are some short exercises for practicing these specific problems.

Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. You can not change the fact that you are an ESL English user. That’s the wonderful and unique thing about you. However, you don’t need to make these simple mistakes when you use English.

Now that you know about these common errors, try to memorize the rules and avoid using the wrong grammar and spelling. Good luck!