English Grammar

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CHAPTER 2.  THE SIMPLE PRESENT OF VERBS OTHER THAN THE VERB TO BE

1. Formation of the simple present

The Simple Present of any verb other than the verb to be is formed from the bare infinitive of the verb. As shown in the following examples, the bare infinitive of a verb consists of the infinitive without the word to. The bare infinitive is the form in which English verbs are usually listed in dictionaries. For example:

InfinitiveBare Infinitive
  to be  be
  to walk  walk
  to work  work

In the Simple Present of verbs other than the verb to be, the form of the verb used with the subjects I , you, we and they is the same as the bare infinitive. The form of the verb used with the subjects he, she and it has the ending s added to the bare infinitive.

For example, the Simple Present of the verb to work is conjugated as follows:

I work
you work
he works
she works
it works
we work
they work

The form of the verb used with the subjects he, she and it is generally referred to as the third person singular.

See Exercise 1.

 

1a. The simple present of the verb To Have

The Simple Present of the verb to have is slightly irregular, since the bare infinitive is have, whereas the form of the verb used in the third person singular is has. The Simple Present of the verb to have is conjugated as follows:

I have
you have
he has
she has
it has
we have
they have

See Exercise 2.

 

2. Spelling rules for adding s in the third person singular

Some verbs change their spelling when s is added in the third person singular.

 

2a. Verbs ending in y

The English letters a, e, i, o and u are generally referred to as vowels. The other English letters are generally referred to as consonants.

When a verb ends in y immediately preceded by a consonant, the y is changed to ie before the ending s is added. In each of the following examples, the consonant immediately preceding the final y is underlined.

Bare InfinitiveThird Person Singular
  study  studies
  fly  flies
  carry  carries

However, when a verb ends in y immediately preceded by a vowel, the y is not changed before the ending s is added. In each of the following examples, the vowel immediately preceding the final y is underlined.

Bare InfinitiveThird Person Singular
  say  says
  enjoy  enjoys
  buy  buys

See Exercise 3.

 

2b. Verbs ending in o

When a verb ends in o, the letter e is added before the s ending. For example:

Bare InfinitiveThird Person Singular
  do  does
  echo  echoes
  go  goes

 

2c. Verbs ending in ch, s, sh, x or z

When a verb ends in a sibilant sound such as ch, s, sh, x or z, the letter e is added before the s ending. For example:

Bare InfinitiveThird Person Singular
  pass  passes
  push  pushes
  watch  watches
  fix  fixes
  buzz  buzzes

See Exercise 4.

 

3. Pronunciation of the es ending

A syllable is a unit of pronunciation, usually consisting of a vowel sound which may or may not be accompanied by consonants.

When a verb ends in a sibilant sound such as ch, s, sh, x or z, the es ending of the third person singular is pronounced as a separate syllable. The reason for this is that these sounds are so similar to the sound of the es ending, that the ending must be pronounced as a separate syllable in order to be heard clearly.

In each of the following examples the bare infinitive consists of one syllable, whereas the form of the verb used in the third person singular consists of two syllables.

Bare InfinitiveThird Person Singular
  pass  passes
  push  pushes
  catch  catches
  mix  mixes

Similarly, when s is added to verbs ending in ce, ge, se or ze, the final es is usually pronounced as a separate syllable. In each of the following examples the bare infinitive consists of one syllable, whereas the form of the verb used in the third person singular consists
of two syllables.

Bare InfinitiveThird Person Singular
  race  races
  rage  rages
  praise  praises
  doze  dozes

However, when s is added to a verb ending in e preceded by a letter other than c, g, s or z, the final es is not pronounced as a separate syllable. In each of the following examples, both the bare infinitive and the form of the verb used in the third person singular consist of one syllable.

Bare InfinitiveThird Person Singular
  make  makes
  smile  smiles
  dine  dines
  save  saves

See Exercise 5.

 

4. The auxiliary Do

With the exception of the verb to be, verbs in modern English use the auxiliary do to form questions and negative statements in the Simple Present.

The Simple Present of the verb to do is conjugated as follows:

I do
you do
he does
she does
it does
we do
they do

Auxiliaries are verbs which are combined with other verbs to form various tenses. It should be noted that when an auxiliary is combined with another verb, it is the auxiliary which must agree with the subject, while the form of the other verb remains invariable.

When the auxiliary do is combined with another verb, the other verb always has the form of the bare infinitive.

 

4a. Questions

In order to form a question in the Simple Present of any verb other than the verb to be, the Simple Present of the auxiliary do is added before the subject, and the bare infinitive of the verb is placed after the subject. For example:

Affirmative StatementQuestion
  I work.  Do I work?
  You work.  Do you work?
  He works.  Does he work?
  She works.  Does she work?
  It works.  Does it work?
  We work.  Do we work?
  They work.  Do they work?

See Exercise 6.

 

4b. Negative statements

In order to form a negative statement, the Simple Present of the auxiliary do followed by the word not is placed before the bare infinitive of the verb. For example:

Affirmative StatementNegative Statement
  I work.  I do not work.
  You work.  You do not work.
  He works.  He does not work.
  She works.  She does not work.
  It works.  It does not work.
  We work.  We do not work.
  They work.  They do not work.

See Exercise 7.

In spoken English, the following contractions are often used:

Without contractionsWith contractions
  do not  don't
  does not  doesn't

 

4c. Negative questions

To form a negative question, the Simple Present of the auxiliary do is placed before the subject, and the word not followed by the bare infinitive is placed after the subject. However, when contractions are used, the contracted form of not follows immediately after the Simple Present of the auxiliary do. For example:

Without contractionsWith contractions
  Do I not work?  Don't I work?
  Do you not work?  Don't you work?
  Does he not work?  Doesn't he work?
  Does she not work?  Doesn't she work?
  Does it not work?  Doesn't it work?
  Do we not work?  Don't we work?
  Do they not work?  Don't they work?

See Exercise 8.

 

4d. Tag questions

The auxiliary do or does is used for a tag question which follows a statement containing the Simple Present of a verb other than the verb to be. In the following examples, the negative tag questions are underlined. Contractions are usually used in negative tag questions.

Affirmative StatementAffirmative Statement with Tag Question
  I work.  I work, don't I?
  You work.  You work, don't you?
  He works.  He works, doesn't he?
  She works.  She works, doesn't she?
  It works.  It works, doesn't it?
  We work.  We work, don't we?
  They work.  They work, don't they?

See Exercise 9.

 

4e. The verb To Have

It should be noted that, particularly in British English, in the case of the Simple Present and Simple Past of the verb to have, questions and negative statements are sometimes formed in the same way as for the verb to be, without the use of the auxiliary do.

e.g. He has a sister, hasn't he?

 

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