Some students are so keen to know about English grammar and to learn the ‘rules’ that they forget something: grammar is just one ingredient used in communication to express yourself and understand others. To switch things around, here are some practical ways you can use the present simple verb form in small talk and everyday conversation.
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Giving personal information and describing your routine
I live in Melbourne (note: I’m living in Melbourne sounds like you see this as a temporary thing)
I have 2 brothers.
I’m married | single | divorced.
I’m about 178cm and weigh 97kg.
I was born in September, so I’m a virgo.
I wake up at 7 o’clock.
I take the car to work and get into the office at about 9.
At the weekend, I usually have breakfast on our balcony and talk with the kids.
I rarely go out during the week as I prefer to relax at home after work.
I sometimes go for a swim at the local pool.
I never eat breakfast at home as I’m often in a rush to get to catch the early train into town.
Talking about your job and responsibilities
I work for a large French company.
I work in South Melbourne.
I work at the building around the corner.
I’m in charge of the finance department.
I take care of the kids when Julie’s at work.
My work involves preparing for meetings and giving presentations.
I’m responsible for ensuring all invoices are tracked and accounted for.
I respond to customer inquiries about our products.
I prepare training programmes for managers in our Singapore office.
Talking About Your Likes And Dislikes
I really like | love U2.
I’m a big fan of Lost Girl.
I’m really into opera and classical music.
I don’t mind golf, though it’s a little boring.
I’m not into boxing, sorry.
I can’t stand Elton John.
I hate American football, what a dopey sport.
I enjoy listening to heavy metal and opera.
One of my favourite things to do during the week is to have my morning cup of coffee at Bill’s Cafe.
Giving Your Opinion
Note that verbs of opinion are usually in the simple form, while actions are in the continuous. For example:
I think he’s a wonderful person [opinion]
I’m thinking about my next holiday [action right now]
I think | reckon that President Obama is poor leader.
I believe he’s the best player of all time.
I don’t think he’ll do that.
Sorry, but I feel it’s not the right time to do this.
I don’t believe that’s true.
In my opinion, this just isn’t right.
What about Prague for our next holiday? What do you think | reckon?
Talking About People
He’s a great | fun | boring | ok guy.
She dances really well, I really like the way she moves.
My uncle’s great, a good laugh.
What surprises | interests me about him is his wicked sense of humour.
What I like | don’t like about her is that she’s so impatient.
Responding To Your Friend In Conversation
Yeah, definitely, that’s for sure.
I don’t think so at all.
Really? Why is that?
I totally agree/disagree.
I don’t agree at all.
You don’t believe that, do you?!
That’s a classic!
I’m not so sure about that, Hank.
Lots of phrases can be used in the present simple, just like in conversation:
What are you up to, John?
Do you fancy a drink?
How about we go for a swim later?
I look forward to it.
I can’t wait til later!
Let’s meet in front of the Swamp Hotel.
He seems to be more tired than usual.
She can’t be American – I think she’s Australian with that hat!
He’s probably in his 30’s. He can’t be older.
She must be late – her car’s not here yet.
Talking About Facts
Paris has a population of 8 million people.
President Obushma is the most popular president since the 1980’s.
Victoria is located in southern Australia.
10 Present Simple Questions You Can Ask At A Party!
The list below shows you that you don’t need to use complicated questions or grammar to get conversation going!
- What do you do for fun? (=another way of asking what someone does in their free time).
- How do you spend your week? (this could be an easier question to ask if you’re not sure if the person has a job, as it opens up the conversation for them to answer how they wish)
- How often do you go out? Where do you like to hang out?
- What’s your favourite film | TV show | song | book..?
- Are you a morning person?
- What superhero do you like the most? Why do you admire them?
- What’s your morning ritual like? Do you spend half an hour in the shower? (this could be a fun way to ask a ‘boring’ question).
- Is there any celebrity that you look up to?
- How do you spend a rainy day?
- What’s your biggest addiction? (if you ask this in a fun way, they’ll probably talk about their coffee habit or spending time with their kids but maybe not something so serious)
So to sum up, you can see that you can do a lot with this basic verb form. After that, it’s a matter of improving your vocabulary!
Present Simple Or The Present Continuous?
Grammar And The Speaker’s Perspective
Sometimes you can use either the present simple or the present continuous, it just depends on how you see things at the time. For example, right now I am visiting family in Melbourne. To some people I’ve said:
“I’m visiting family” (I am here temporarily)
To other people I’ve said:
“I live in South Melbourne.” (this implies I live here permanently)
This might be because it’s easier to say I live here permanently than to then get all the follow up questions on where I *usually* live!
In a similar way, compare the businessman who travels between Paris and the Middle East:
“I live in Dubai.” (he says to a girl he just met in Dubai)
“I’m visiting Dubai.” (he says to a girl he likes back in Paris – he wants her to know this is just temporary!)
To sum up, grammar is just one ingredient in communicating your message, and it’s up to you to choose the verb forms which best fits your perspective or the message you wish to put across. There are other ingredients too, however, like how you say things, and what vocabulary you choose.
Finally, you can see today’s uses above of the present simple form as being about grammar, or you can learn the above sentences lexically.
In other words, instead of worrying about the grammatical rules, you could remember the above as phrases, with grammar ‘built in’.
“Not Pretty Enough”
Check out this Aussie song, which mostly uses the present simple form. Sing along or grab someone and dance..
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