Present Simple: Form

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See also: Present simple

For most forms of the present simple we use the first form (bare infinitive), base form of the verb: I run, you seem happy, we work hard, they change after work.

For the third person singular we use the –s form of the verb: Luke seems happy.

Spelling[edit]

-es is added in verbs ending in -ss, -z, -sh, -ch -x and -o (but not -oo):

hisses, buzzes, washes, catches, boxes, goes but: boos

-es is added in verbs with word-final -s; some writers double the final -s (i.e. add -ses); this is optional:

gases or gasses, focuses or focusses

Verbs ending in -y following a consonant change the -y to -ies, but if the word-final -y follows a vowel/diphthong sound, we simply add -s:

carries, tries; but: plays, employs

Pronunciation[edit]

Main article: Pronunciation of the morpheme “-s”

The final –(e)s of this form is pronounced:

/s/ after unvoiced consonants except /s, ʃ, /: /kɪks, pʊts, kɒfs/ (kicks, puts, coughs)

/z/ after voiced consonants except /z, ʒ, /, vowels and diphthongs: /hʌgz, siːz, leɪz/ (hugs, sees, lays)

ɪz (or əz) after /s, z, ʃ, ʒ, ,/: /bɒksɪz, bʌzɪz, wɒʃɪz ruːʒɪz, kætʃɪz, dʒʌdʒɪz/ (boxes, buzzes, washes, rouges, catches, judges)

Exceptions[edit]

One verb, be has a completely irregular present simple: I am, he/she/it is, we/you/they are.

One verb, have has an irregular third person singular form: I/we/you/they have, he/she/it has /hæz/.

Two verbs, do and say, have pronunciation changes in the third person singular form: do, does /duː, dʌz/, say, says /seɪ, sez/

Negative forms (with not)[edit]

The primary auxiliary do is used with all full verbs except BE (and, for some speakers, HAVE: I work – I do not/don’t work, he works – he does not/doesn’t work

Note the pronunciation of do not: /duːnɒt/ and don’t - /dǝʊnt/

Interrogative forms (with S-V inversion)[edit]

The primary auxiliary do is used with all full verbs except BE (and, for some speakers, HAVE: we work – do we work? she works – does she work?

Weak forms of DO are frequently used in speech, except in formal oratory or for emphasis:

do we work? /duːwiːwɜːk, dəwiːwɜːk, dwiwɜːk/

do you work? /duːjuːwɜːk, dəjəwɜːk, djəwɜːk, ʤəwɜːk/

does he work? /dʌzhiːwɜːk, dəzhiːwɜːk, dəziːwɜːk, dziːwɜːk/

does she work? /dʌzʃiːwɜːk, dəzʃiːwɜːk, dəʃiːwɜːk/

Interrogative-negative forms[edit]

The Primary Auxiliary DO is used with all full verbs except BE (and, for some speakers, HAVE; Except in very formal speech and writing, the contracted forms are used in negative questions:

Don’t you work there any more? (Do you not work there any more?)

Doesn’t Emma work there any more? (Does Emma not work there any more?)

Emphasis[edit]

The Primary Auxiliary DO is used with all full verbs except BE (and, for some speakers, HAVE);In speech, do and does are always stressed, and the weak forms are not used:

I do like those shoes. Lindsay does work hard.

‘Dummy’ forms:[edit]

"Do" is used as a ‘dummy’ verb to replace the full verb in:

Question tags: He works hard, doesn’t he?

Short answers: Do you like it here? Yes, I do. / No, I don’t.

• Contracted questions: Mary likes living in Germany. Does Alan?

• Contracted follow-up questions: I really like living in Prague. Do you?

• (Dis)agreement comments: She looks smart today. Yes she does. / No, she doesn’t.

Exceptions: be, have and have to[edit]

Be is the only full verb never to use "do" as an auxiliary verb in the present simple – or indeed in any other form except for emphatic and negative imperative forms:

Be careful. Do be careful. Don’t be late.


Have, when used as a full verb, can operate in one of three ways:

1. Most American and many younger British speakers use "have" as a normal full verb, which needs the primary auxiliary "do" like all other full verbs:

I have a new car. Do you have a car? - Yes, I do. She doesn’t have a car.

2. Some (often older) British and American speakers, especially in more formal speech and writing, do not use the primary auxiliary DO with HAVE:

I have a new car. Have you a car? - Yes, I have. She hasn’t a car.

3. Many British, and some American speakers use "have got" (technically the present perfect of "get") instead of "have", especially in less formal speech and writing. "Do" is never used as an auxiliary with this, and the contracted form is common:

I’ve got a new car. Have you got a car? - Yes, I have. She’s got a new car.

This is possible only when "have" has a meaning similar to possess (or when "got" has a meaning similar to "obtain"). Furthermore, it is not usually used in the past. It is also not possible when it has a meaning similar to take or experience, or can be replaced by some other full verb such as "eat":

I have a new shower in my bathroom. I’ve got a new shower in my bathroom. I have a shower twice a day. *I’ve got a shower twice a day. I normally have breakfast in bed. *I have normally got breakfast in bed.


Have to, denoting some form of obligation, operates as a full verb, using "do" as an auxiliary when appropriate:

I have to leave. Do you have to leave? - Yes, I do. She doesn’t have to go.

Note that have to is pronounced in normal speech as /hæftǝ/, and has to as /hæstǝ/.

In the less formal "have got to", "have" (normally contracted) operates as an auxiliary, and does not use "do":

I’ve got to leave. Have you got to leave? - Yes, I have. She hasn’t got to leave.

References[edit]


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