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I am studying English grammar.

I have studied 'simple present' today.

According to my book it should be "we clean our house on Saturdays" but I wrote it as "we clean our house on Saturday".

What is difference between 'Saturdays' and 'Saturday'?

If my grammar in question is poor, please correct it.

If you do, it will be very helpful.

Thank you.

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3 Answers 3

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'simple present' tense is used for things that are done on a regular basis with a fixed schedule. For example, 'I go for a walk daily.' Therefore the correct usage in this case is 'Saturdays' which implies that the said activity is done on Saturday weekly.

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I disagree (very slightly) with Roland Sole.

We clean our house on Saturdays

is using the simple present to describe habitual action that is expected to continue in the future. It is a standard use of the simple present.

The locution “on Saturdays” may seem a bit peculiar because “Saturday” is a name. The locution, however, is a standard idiom meaning “on those days of the week that share the name ‘Saturday.’”

Where I disagree with Mr. Sole is that I have heard the singular “Saturday” used to convey the same thought. In the U.S. today, that usage is rare I believe, but not yet ungrammatical. I have also heard the simple present used for the future as in

She leaves for college on Saturday

That usage also is relatively rare. What would be more common is

She will leave for college on Saturday

or

She is going to leave for college on Saturday

In short, what you said is grammatical, but rare and ambiguous.

EDIT In response to Mr. Sole’s comment below, I am adding these clarifications to my original answer.

First, assertions about relative frequency cannot usually be validated from independent sources. Ngram is of limited utility because it is context free. And there are variations in usage based on region and education.

In my experience, which is primarily that of the mid-Atlantic states in the U.S., the use of a plural with the name of a day of the week is far more common than the use of the singular when describing the timing of a habitual action. There is, however, a major exception, namely when other words make clear that habitual action is being discussed. For example,

We always clean the house on Saturdays

and

We always clean the house on Saturday

seem to me equally idiomatic.

With respect to the use of the simple present to describe future intentions, I have a qualification to make to my original answer. I should have used “less common” rather than “rare.”

Again in my experience, the use of the present progressive of “go” plus a to-infinitive is the most common way in speech to indicate present intention with respect to a future act.

They are going to see that movie on Thursday.

is far more common than

They see that movie on Thursday.

In writing, or at least the formal writing of the educated, the simple future is likely to be the most common form to express present intention of future action.

They will see that movie on Thursday.

Lastly, notice that Mr. Sole, FumbleFingers, and I all agree that there are multiple uses of the simple present. To clarify which use is intended frequently requires additional words.

I visit Jane on Saturday

is ambiguous. It may refer to habitual action, or it may refer to present intention. In the first case, it is clearer and more idiomatic to say

I visit Jane on Saturdays

or

I always visit Jane on Saturday

In the second case, it is clearer and more idiomatic to say

I am going to visit Jane on Saturday

or

I will visit Jane Saturday

English is not an easy language.

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  • It's a treat to be disagreed with in such gentlemanly fashion. I don't contend that:**We clean the house on Saturday.** is ungrammatical. The problem is that because it is not idiomatic, it's also unclear. Does it mean that the speaker intends to clean it on Saturday or cleans it each Saturday. If I may disagree with equal courtesy with you, in my experience such constructions as: We go/leave/fly/sail/depart/play are frequently, rather than rarely, used in the present tense about future intentions. But then, people's experiences differ. Aug 28, 2021 at 18:03
  • @RonaldSole Thank you for your comment. Upon reflection, it induced me to edit my original answer. Aug 28, 2021 at 20:55
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Plural Saturdays means on Saturday each week.

Singular Saturday implies only this coming Saturday.

However, few people would use this construction.
Most would say: We (will clean) or (are cleaning) our house this (coming) Saturday or (on Saturday).

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