Verbs have two parts - they have auxiliaries and a main part. There is always one main part, but there can be more than one auxiliary. The main part is either a present participle, a past participle or an infinitive. The auxiliary is a form of do, be, or have.
I have gone. Have is the auxiliary, gone is the main part of the verb (a past participle). Together they make the tense. Here, the tense they make is the present perfect.
We get the meaning of the verb from the main part. The auxiliary(s) tell us more about the verb, including the person (first second or third) and the time (past, present or future).
Once the auxiliary and the main part have made a verb, the verb has a time, and it has a voice, and you have more information about the person. We usually describe verbs by their time and voice and for completeness also with the person.Once the auxiliary and the main part have made a verb, the verb has a time, and it has a voice.
The past passive; the future continuous; the present perfect.
The first person present perfect, the second person future passive.
In this part we a look at verbs with the present time, and the simple voice. That is, the present simple.
(i) I like ice cream.
(ii) I do not like spinach.
The present simple is not called the simple because it is easy. In some ways it is the most complicated of the voices. (The other voices are the continuous, the passive and the perfect.) But while you can use the other voices alone or together (for example a present perfect passive continuous) you always use the simple alone without other voices.
There is one other point to note about the simple. Like ALL verbs it has two parts, an auxiliary and a main part. The main part is the infinitive, the auxiliary is do. But with the simple voice, and only with the simple voice, we do not use the auxiliary with positive statements.
Look at the example above. (i) uses the infinitive without do because it is a statement, and it is positive. (ii) is a statement, but it is negative, so we use do, and not to show it is negative.
I live in England.
In a negative statement we use do and not but still with the infinitive.
I do not live in Greece.
Sentences without an auxiliary only happen with simple positive statements. We use the auxiliary in positive and negative questions.
Do you drink beer? / Don't you drink beer?
And with positive and negative question tags (but notice the omission in example (i) where the first part is a positive statement).
(i) You drink beer, don't you? / (ii) You don't drink beer, do you?
We also use the auxiliary in affirmations
No you are wrong. I do drink beer.
And in responses with ellipsis.
Do you read a lot of books? I do
And famously Do you take this man to be your lawful husbandÖ.? I do.
We usually treat commands as very positive statements, so the same rule is used.
Come here! / Don't read this example!
Another thing to remember is that do the auxiliary is different from do the verb. As a verb, do means "to perform an action". As an auxiliary do only shows that we are using the simple voice. We often use do as an auxiliary and a verb in one sentence.
Don't do that! I don't know what to do.
One of the main jobs of an auxiliary is to give the time. There are three possible times (past, present and future), and only one is used with each verb. There is no present past tense. Since we are looking at the present simple, we discover the time by looking at the auxiliary which is "do". If it was the past the auxiliary would be "did" and for the future it would be "will do." (There is a problem about what to do with the time of simple voice positive statements - but that is for another lesson.)
With all present times in English, the third person singular ends in s. (You will see later this is also true with present passive, continuous and perfect.)
But with the present simple there is a problem. I have told you that -
(i) Auxiliaries must end with s for the third person singular.
(ii) Positive statements using the simple voice do not have auxiliaries.
So what happens when you need to use rules (i) and (ii) together? The auxiliary must have s, but you donít use it? In fact, thatís almost right. A positive sentence in the simple voice doesnít use an auxiliary, but it does use s, and because we have to put the s somewhere, we put it on the end of the main part of the verb.
He does not live in Oxford. (see where the s is on the end of the auxiliary?)
He lives in London. (no auxiliary, but the s has moved.)
Remember: if there is an auxiliary, the s goes on the auxiliary (e.g. does). If there is no auxiliary the s goes on the end of the main part (e.g. lives). You only need the lives in a third person present singular verb.
(Notice that this is also true of the most irregular of all English verbs - to be. To be is so irregular it does not use the auxiliary in the negative.
I am here. / I am not there.
But the third person singular of the present simple has an s on the end.
Now that we know the present simple is not simple, we are not surprised to know that it is not present either. If we want to talk about NOW we use the present continuous.
I am studying English.
We use the present simple to describe things that are true for a long time, always true, or for states or conditions.
I live in Cambridge. (But now I am visiting Milan)
Fish live in water. (But now this fish is eating)
The apple is red. / I am hungry. (conditions)
Notice that conditions are often used with adjectives, and when we are describing adjectives or conditions, we normally use the verb to be. (Think about this, and about the fact that present participles are like adjectives, and you will find it much easier when we do the chapter on the continuous voice. )
So to finish let's look at some present simple verbs in a short paragraph. Look at how the present simple is used.