Grammar Guide: Simple Present Tense

Martin Luther King, Jr. is best known for being a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He fought for the freedom and equality of all citizens of the United States, regardless of skin color. He delivered many famous speeches that he hoped would help end discrimination. Because of his nonviolent methods to stop discrimination, Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated, or killed. Today, we celebrate the efforts of Martin Luther King close to his birthday, January 15, each year. 

Simple Present Tense
Last week we discussed how the simple future tense is used to express actions or situations that have not happened yet. The present tense is used to describe (1) habitual or repeated actions and (2) general statements that are always true. Sometimes students make the mistake that the present simple tense is used to describe actions occurring right now, but this is not true! The words always and usually are often used with the simple present tense.

We form the simple present tense by using the simple form of the verb with first person, singular and plural; second person, singular and plural; and third person plural subjects. We add -s or -es to the end of verbs with a third person singular subject.
  • We always celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday in January every year.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. inspires many people all over the world.
  • They give speeches every week in their US Issues class.
The be verb is irregular. We conjugate this verb as follows:
  • I am . . .
  • You are . . .
  • He(, she, or it) is . . .
  • We are . . .
  • You (plural) are . . .
  • They are . . .
The following is an excerpt of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. 
  • "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"I have a dream today!"
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