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Intermediate English Grammar Step by Step

 

     UNIT 5
     THE SIMPLE PRESENT and THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS1

 

   Write the verbs in brackets in the correct form.

 

1. We use the infinitive to form the simple present in the affirmative. However, please note that we add an -s, or -es, to the infinitive in the third person singular (he, she, it). If a verb ends in a sibilant sound (-ch, -sh, -ss, -x, -zz) or in -o, we add -es. If a verb ends in -y, we have two possibilities:
   -y is preceded by a vowel: buy→buys
   -y is preceded by a consonant: try→tries
   As for the rest of endings, we add only an -s in the third person singular. Have a look at the examples below:
   start
   I start
   you start
   he starts
   she starts
   it starts
   we start
   you start
   they start

   finish
   I finish
   you finish
   he finishes
   she finishes
   it finishes
   we finish
   you finish
   they finish

   fly
   I fly
   you fly
   he flies
   she flies
   it flies
   we fly
   you fly
   they fly

   play
   I play
   you play
   he plays
   she plays
   it plays
   we play
   you play
   they play

a  The show (begin) at seven o'clock.
b  My parents (teach) at this school.
c  He (teach) French at university.
d  She (rely) on me.
e  They (work) in a restaurant.

 

2. In the negative, we place do not or does not (third person singular) between the subject and the verb2. Do not contracts to don't; and does not, to doesn't.
   He reads every day. (affirmative)
   He does not read every day. (negative » Note that the verb 'read' is in the infinitive, that is, the -s is dropped.)
   They live in Tarragona. (affirmative)
   They don't live in Tarragona. (negative)

a  They (not like) punch.
b  She (not water) this plant very often.
c  We (not write) to each other.
d  I (not study) hard.
e  He (not watch) TV at night.

 

3. In the interrogative, we put do or does (third person singular) before the subject.
   He reads every day. (affirmative)
   Does he read every day? (interrogative » Note that the verb 'read' is in the infinitive, that is, the -s is dropped.)
   They live in Tarragona. (affirmative)
   Do they live in Tarragona? (interrogative)

a  You (want) a cup of coffee?
b  He (need) a rest?
c  It (rain) very often?
d  They (sing) very well?
e  She (go) there from time to time?

 

4. The form of the present continuous is as follows: subject + to be + verb-ing.
   I am dancing. (affirmative)
   Is she sleeping? (interrogative)
   We are not playing cards. (negative)

   Nevertheless, notice the following changes when we add -ing to the infinitive:
   live→living (consonant + e + ing)
   see→seeing (vowel + e + ing)
   brim→brimming (a monosyllabic verb3 with the following structure: "consonant + only one vowel + only one consonant")
   rain→raining (the -n is not doubled here because it is preceded by two vowels instead of one)
   die→dying (ie + ing = ying)

a  She (drink) water.
b  They (listen) to music.
c  You (come) to the party tonight?
d  We (watch) a football match on television.
e  I (not study) now. If you like, we can go for a walk in the country.

 

5. The simple present is used for habits4 and universal facts; the present continuous, for actions that are going on when we speak and future plans.
   They never drink milk. They don't like milk. (a habit)
   The sun sets in the west. (a universal fact)
   I am doing my homework now. (an unfinished action)
   We are visiting Mary this afternoon. (a future plan)

a  She usually (finish) work at five o'clock.
b  Water (boil) when it is heated.
c  I (write) a novel. I'll show it to you as soon as I (finish) it.
d  I (take) the kids to the zoo tomorrow.
e  "How you (get) on at school?"
   "Not very well, I'm afraid."

 

6. The simple present is also used with verbs that do not take continuous tenses: like, be, recognise, understand, and so on.
   I understand you perfectly now.
   What do you want now?
   I do not think she needs you.

a  She (be) at home now.
b  We (need) a rest now.
c  I (not believe) you.
d  I (wish) you a merry Christmas.
e  "You (love) me?"
   "Of course I do!"

 

7. Some verbs have several meanings, and may take continuous tenses in some senses, but not, in others.
   I see a woman sitting on a chair. (= I can see a woman sitting on a chair.)
   He's seeing his sales representative in London now. (= He is in a meeting with his sales representative in London now.)

a  What you (think) about? You haven't said anything for almost an hour!
b  "What you (think) about this?"
   "I (think) we'll have to spend more money advertising our products."
c  I (expect) a customer now.
d  We (expect) that our sales will double in the next few months.
e  This soup (taste) great.

 

8. Revision exercise.
a  We (love) visiting them. They (be) so charming!
b  Wherever you (go), I'll follow you.
c  "Why you (smell) that yoghourt? It (smell) off?"
   "I (be) afraid it (do). It (have) an unpleasant smell."
d  I (be) afraid she can't talk to you now: she (have) a shower. Could you ring back later?
e  I can't tonight! I (take) my wife to the opera. What about tomorrow?
f  Don't light a cigarette now! It (smell) of gas.
g  I sometimes (go) for a walk in the afternoons.
h  "What you (do) in you free time?"
   "I usually (read) or (connect) to the Internet."
i  He (not like) garlic, so don't put any garlic in the stew.
j  Could you explain it again? I still (not understand)!
k  Don't go out now: it (rain) very heavily.
l  "Love (be) what (make) the world go round. Or it (be) money?"
   "I (think) it (be) money what (make) the world go round."
m  "Who this pen (belong) to?"
   It (belong) to Peter, I (think).
n  "What on earth you (do) here?"
   "Nothing! I just (wait) for John to come."
o  The moon (revolve) around the earth.
p  We have taken this road because they (repair) the other one.
q  "Where your mother (be)?"
   "She (pick) roses in the garden."
r  He (meet) her tomorrow evening. He (love) her a lot.
s  "You (mind) if I come again tomorrow?"
   "Of course not! I (enjoy) your visits."
t  I (taste) the food because it (have) a funny odour.
u  Why you (not taste) it? It (be) delicious!
v  "How you (be) today?"
   "I (not feel) very well."
w  I (detest) peeling onions. They (make) me cry.
x  "What you (look) for?"
   "I've lost my keys and can't find them anywhere."
y  How often you (feed) your snake?
z  The sun's rays (permit) life on this planet.

 

____________________
1  The present continuous is also called "the present progressive".
2  Please note that modal verbs (can, may, must, should...), be and have got do not make the negative and the interrogative with do or does:
   We can speak Catalan.
   We can't speak Catalan.
   Can we speak Catalan?
   She is my sister.
   She is not my sister.
   Is she my sister?
   See units 1, 2 and 4 for further information.

   Compare the following examples:
   She has got lots of friends.
   She hasn't got lots of friends.
   Has she got lots of friends?
   He has a shower every day.
   He does not have a shower every day.
   Does he have a shower every day?
   See Unit 3 for additional information.
3   If a verb has two syllables and the stress falls on the last syllable, which has "consonant + only one vowel + only one consonant", the consonant is doubled: begin→beginning. Please note that some verbs ending in l double the consonant in British English, but not, in American English: travel→travelling. Click here for further information.
4  Notice that we sometimes use always in the present continuous to imply that something irritates us:
   You are always sucking up to the boss. (= I find this annoying.)
   Click here for further information.
Written by Miquel Molina i Diez
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