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Present Simple - Uses

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Present Simple
This is a practical oversimplification which will be right most of the time. For more detailed information see Mastery of the Tenses!
Main Uses for the Present Simple
For routines and habits
  • I go for a run every morning.
  • They always go camping in France.
  • I call him whenever I can.
For things that are permanent or always true
  • The shop opens at 9am.
  • Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
  • I am British.
For schedules, timetables, fixed events
  • The film starts at 9.
  • The plane leaves at 15.30.
  • The museum opens in November.
For instructions
  • Turn right at the lights and go straight on.
  • How do I turn this on?
  • First you fry the onions and then you add the spices.
For state verbs, usually.
eg agree, believe, hate, know, like, love, prefer, understand, smell, etc
  • He doesn't understand the book.
    • NOT He isn't understanding the book.
  • I don't believe in meditation
    • NOT I am not believing in meditation
Present Simple in IF structures
For Zero Conditionals
  • If the book is late, you pay a fine.
  • If he says he loves you, he means it.
  • If you know the answer, tell me!
For First Conditionals, IF clause
  • If it rains, I will...
  • If I study hard, I will...
  • If she calls me, he will...
Present Simple with Expressions of Time in the Future
After WHEN.
  • I'll phone you when I get home.
  • When you arrive, turn on the air conditioner.
After AS SOON AS when you mean ‘immediately after’.
  • As soon as I hear, I will let you know.
  • There'll be hell to pay as soon as he finds out!
After AFTER, the Present Perfect is also possible (with no change in meaning).
  • After I speak to you, I will go home.
  • After I have spoken to you, I will go home.
  • After I cook dinner and I have eaten it, then I will be happy.
With BEFORE when referring to the future.
  • Before the film starts, I would like to tell you that...
  • Tell her you love her before she leaves you!
After UNTIL.
  • Let's stay out until it gets dark.
  • The cat will stay asleep until he gets hungry.
[Sourced: EnglishAdam.com]

Test Your Knowledge!

Question


Which tense do we use after 'WHEN' (as an expression of time in the future)?

Name the use!


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Answer


The Present Simple

Notes


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Notes


When you arrive, turn on the air conditioner.
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[EnglishAdam.com]

Practice Your Knowledge!

Question


If you heat ice, (it’ll melt / it melts).

Choose 'Most Likely' Option


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Answer


If you heat ice, it melts.

Notes


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Notes


No specific notes on this question yet, sorry.
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Visitors' Questions, Ideas etc

Can I say "I will call when I will arrive?"

Asked by Federica
ADAM says: I personally believe that all combinations of tenses and words are 'theoretically' possible. HOWEVER...

...I find it very unnatural to mix the certainty of 'WHEN' (or any of the time expressions on this page) with the concept of 'WILL' which means 'a reaction that didn't exist previously'.

FOR MORE ABOUT THIS SEE MY SERIES ON 'Tense Mastery'

So I find it strange to guarantee the future in such a way. A little easier, even if still a bit 'forced' is the use of IF + WILL, for example "If I will do this, will you do that?". Here our 'reactions' (WILL) are circular/reciprocal so 'technically possible' but are not 'guaranteed' but are 'conditional'.

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