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Past simple

( Free Online English Grammar Lessons )

Read time : 3 minutes

Past simple form : ( verb 2 )

In English we use the past simple tense to talk about finished actions in the past.

We use 'did' as an auxiliary verb in negatives and questions and we often use the past simple with past time phrases such as 5 minutes ago, yesterday, last week, in the 1980s, and when I was a child.

Notes for use of past simple  :

In English, to change verbs to the past tense, we add '-ed' to regular verbs. For example;

work --> worked

live --> lived

walk --> walked

If the verb ends in 'e', we drop the 'e' before adding '-ed'. For example;

dance --> danced

smile --> smiled

phone --> phoned

If the verb ends in a vowel + consonant, we double the last consonant. For example;

stop --> stopped

tag --> tagged

plan --> planned

If the verb has more than one syllable, we double the consonant at the end only if the last syllable is stressed. For example;

prefer --> preferred

permit --> permitted

regret --> regretted

If the last syllable of the verb is not stressed, we do not double the last consonant. For example;

visit --> visited

happen --> happened

develop --> developed

In British English, verbs ending in 'l' double the 'l' before '-ed' whether the last syllable is stressed or not. For example;

travel --> travelled

cancel --> cancelled

If the verb ends in a 'y' or a 'w', we do not double it when we add '-ed'. For example;

stay --> stayed

play --> played

sew --> sewed

In English we do not double the consonant if the verb has two vowels before the last consonant. For example;

boil --> boiled

explain --> explained

In English we also do not double the consonant if the verb ends in two consonants. For example;

help --> helped

start --> started

However, irregular verbs change to completely different words in the past tense. For example;

go --> went

take --> took

know --> knew

The table below shows the different forms of past simple :

Example Verb : live
I / You  / We / They / He / She / It
Positive... lived.
Negative... didn't live.

Questions

Did ... live?
Short answers

Yes, ... did. /

No, ... didn't.

For the verb 'to be' we use 'was' and 'were'' in the past simple. No auxiliary verbs are used in negative sentences and questions.

Verb : Be
I / He / She / It
You / We / They
Positive... was ...... were ...
Negative... wasn't ...... weren't ...
QuestionsWas ... ... ?Were ... ...?
Short answers

Yes, ... was. /

No, ... wasn't.

Yes, ... were. /

No, ... weren't.

Past Simple Example Sentences :

Positive Examples of Past Simple :

  • I went to Japan last year.
  • She worked as a consultant for 5 years.
  • We saw a film last night.
  • He was ill yesterday.
  • They were at the party last Saturday night.

Negative Examples of Past Simple :

  • You didn't go to the gym last night.
  • He didn't attend the meeting this morning.
  • We didn't have a dog when I was a child.
  • I wasn't at home last weekend.
  • They weren't happy with the service.

Question Examples of Past Simple :

  • Did you visit New York last summer?
  • Did you eat at the Japanese restaurant last night?
  • Who did you meet at the conference?
  • Was she angry?
  • Where were you yesterday afternoon?



Be going to
Be going to passive
Be used to / Get used to
Comparative
Defining relative clause
Echo tag
Expression
First conditional
Future
Future continuous
Future perfect continuous
Future perfect passive
Future perfect simple
Future simple passive
Greeting
Have/Get something done
Imperative
Implied conditional
Indirect question
Infinitive of purpose
Interjection
Mixed conditional
Modal
Modal passive
Non-defining relative clause
Other
Past continuous
Past continuous passive
Past perfect continuous
Past perfect passive
Past perfect simple
Past simple
Past simple passive
Polite request / offer / suggestion
Present continuous
Present continuous passive
Present perfect continuous
Present perfect passive
Present perfect simple
Present simple
Present simple passive
Question tag
Reduced relative clause
Reported speech imperative
Reported speech question
Reported speech request
Reported speech statement
Second conditional
Short answer
Superlative
Third conditional
Used to / would (past habit)
Was/were going to
Was/were supposed to
Wish
Would rather
Zero conditional