Simple Past Tense in English

Simple Past Tense in English

What is the Simple Past?

The simple past tense is easy to use in English just like the present tense. Overall, the simple past is used to describe an action that started and ended at a definite time in the past. This tense is used very commonly to describe events, so it is important to know it well.

How to Use

The simple past forms are easy to make. All you have to do is to add "ed" at the end of every verb, except irregular verbs. Every verb in English has only one form of it in the past, except the verb “to be,” which has two forms: was and were.

Regular Verbs The verb to be
I wanted I was
You cooked You were
He waited He was
She created She was
It rained It was
We watched We were
They jumped They were

Note: To form the simple past for both questions (interrogative form) and negative form, you should pay attention to two things:

  • Use the simple past form of “to do”, which is "did".
  • Use the main verb in the base form. (I did not play the game yesterday.)

The verb "did" in the above examples is an auxiliary, learn more about auxiliary verbs.

Negative forms in the past tense:

Questions in the past tense:

Questions are also very easy to make in simple past. Just add “did” before the subject, and the infinitive after it. For example, “Did you see the movie yesterday?”

When to Use

1. When talking about a completed action in the past:

Use the past tense when you want to express an action that began and ended at a specific time in the past.

2. When talking about a series of completed actions:

We can use the simple past to list a series of completed events or actions:

3.When describing a duration in the past:

The simple past can be used on durations that start and end in the past. This duration is often expressed using words like all day, for two years, for two hours, all year, etc.

4.When talking about habitual activities:

The simple past can be used to talk about habits which stopped in the past.

5. When talking about facts or general ideas:

We can also use the past tense to talk about facts or generalizations which happened in the past but are no longer valid:

Exercise for Simple Past


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