Simple tenses

What are simple tenses?

A tense is the form of a verb that is used to show when the verb happened. In English there are 3 main tenses:-

  • simple past
  • simple present
  • simple future

In this article we will look at the simple forms, past, present and future.

Simple present tense

The simple present tense is the easiest to understand. It is for things that happen in the present. (but aren’t currently happening). It is used to express things such as habits and things done on a regular basis.

I work in a factory.

I like chocolate.

We see each other every day.

When we use a third person singular (he, she, it etc) the ending to the verb changes and we add an ‘s‘:-

He works in a factory.

She likes chocolate.

Tom sees them every day.

Simple future tense

The simple future tense is used to describe events that will happen in the future. The verb has the same form as the simple present tense but we have to add the word ‘will’ before it:-

I will go to work later.

She will eat chocolate.

They will travel to America.

In the simple future tense, we don’t add an ‘s’ after third person singulars.

Simple past tense

The simple past tense is used to describe things that have already happened in the past. For a lot of verbs (called regular verbs) the way to make the form is by adding ‘ed’ to the end.

The pronunciation for this ‘ed’ ending changes depending on the word. For more information, read this article on ‘ed’ endings.

I worked yesterday.

They called a taxi.

He kicked the ball.

The simple past form of irregular verbs is a little more difficult. Some stay the same:-

I cut wood on Thursdays. I cut the wood yesterday.

Some of these irregular verbs are spelled differently altogether:-

I see them sometimes. I saw them yesterday.

Here is a list of some of the most common irregular verbs in English:-

Simple present tense   Simple past tense
is

are

become

begin

break

bring

build

buy

choose

come

do

draw

drink

drive

eat

fall

feed

feel

fight

find

fly

forget

get

go

have

hear

know

lose

make

pay

run

say

see

sell

sleep

speak

swim

take

teach

tell

think

understand

write

was

were

became

began

broke

brought

built

bought

chose

came

did

drew

drank

drove

ate

fell

fed

felt

fought

found

flew

forgot

got

went

had

heard

knew

lost

made

paid

ran

said

saw

sold

slept

spoke

swam

took

taught

told

thought

understood

wrote

Simple tense practice exercise

Fill in the blanks using the correct form of the (verb):-

  1. He ___ off his bike. (fall)
  2. She ___ to the post office next week. (go)
  3. They ___ to go to the cinema but it was closed. (want)
  4. He ___ the class tomorrow. (teach)
  5. Jim ___ football on Tuesdays. (play)
  6. I ___ that tv show… until it got bad. (like)
  7. I ___ them arguing, it didn’t sound nice. (hear)
  8. We ___ a lot tomorrow, it’s my birthday! (drink)
  9. It’s true, she ___ me herself. (tell)
  10. She ___ to work by bus everyday. (travel)