A. The main use of the simple present tense is to express habitual actions. We use it to say that something happens all the time or repeatedly, or that something is true in general. It is not important whether the action is happening at the time of speaking.
The earth goes round the sun.
I work in a bank. Tom works in a shop.
Nurses look after patients in hospitals.
B. We use the present simple when we say how often we do things. So in this tense we use adverbs or adverb phrases such as: always, never, often, sometimes, usually, every week, on Mondays, twice a yearetc.:
How often do you go to church? I go there on Sundays.
I get up at 7 o’clock every morning.
Other Uses of the Simple Present Tense
A. We use the present simple instead of future when we are talking about timetables, programmes etc. (for example, for public transport, cinemas, theatres):
What time does the film begin?
Ann is coming from France tomorrow. Her train arrives at 7.15.
B. It is used, chiefly with the verb say, when we are asking about, or quoting from books, notices or very recently received letters
What does that notice say? - It says, ‘No parking.’
What does the book say? - It says, ‘Cook very slowly.’
I see you’ve got a letter from your mother. What does she say?
- She says, she is coming next week.
C. It is common in stories told in the present, in describing the action of a play, opera etc., and is often used by radio commentators at sports events:
When the curtain rises, Juliet is writing at her desk. Suddenly
the window opens and a masked man enters.
D. It can be used for a planned future action or series of actions particularly when they refer to a journey. Travel agents use it a lot.
We leave London at 10.00 next Tuesday and arrive in Paris at 13.00.
We spend two hours in Paris and leave again at 15.00.
E. It must be used instead of the present continuous with verbs which cannot be used in the continuous form, e.g. love, see, believeetc. (see 4 – 6)
F. It is used in conditional sentences after if andunlessand in time clauses after when, as soon as, before, while, until/till:
If I see Ann I’ll ask her.
When it stops raining we’ll go out.
Wait here until I come back.
THE PAST AND PERFECT TENSES
THE SIMPLE PAST TENSE
The simple past in regular verbs is formed by adding ed to the infinitive:
to work worked
The negative and interrogative of regular and irregular verbs are formed
I did not/didn’t work did you work? Didn’t you work
A. Regular verbs
1. Verbs ending in e add d only: to love loved
2. The rules about doubling the final consonant when adding ing (see 2. B above) apply also when adding ed:
admit, admitted stop, stopped travel, travelled
3. Verbs ending in y following a consonant change the y into i before adding ed: carry, carried; try, tried
but y following a vowel does not change: play, played; obey, obeyed
B. Irregular verbs
The simple past form of each irregular verb must be learnt, but once this is done there is no other difficulty. A list of irregular verbs will be found at the end of the book.