Past simple

Use

1) action finished in the past

I visited Berlin last week.


2) series of completed actions in the past

First I got up, then I had breakfast


3) together with the Past Progressive/Continuous – The Simple Past interrupted an action which was in progress in the past.

They were playing cards when the telephone rang.


Signal words

yesterday, last week, a month ago, in 2002


Form

– with regular verbs: infinitive + -ed
– with irregular verbs: 2nd column of the table of the irregular verbs


Examples

Affirmative sentences:

regular verbs irregular verbs
I played football. I went to the cinema.
We visited Alaska last year. We were in Rome yesterday.

Negative sentences:

You must not negate a full verb in English. Always use the auxiliary did (Simple Past of to do) for negations.

I played football.
I didn’t play football.
He didn’t play football.

Questions:

Use the auxiliary did (Simple Past of to do).
Did you play football?

Simple Past – Signal words

These words tell you what tense you have to use. For the Simple Past these are expressions of time in the past.

yesterday
last week
a month ago
in 2002

Form of the Simple Past

Form the Simple Past:
– with regular verbs: infinitive + -ed
– with irregular verbs: 2nd column of the table of the irregular verbs


Affirmative sentences:

Use the same form of the verb every time regardless the subject.

regular verbs irregular verbs
I played football. I went to the supermarket.

Negative sentences:

Use the auxiliary did (Simple Past of do) every time regardless the subject.

regular verbs irregular verbs
I did not play football. I did not go to the supermarket.

NOTE: Short forms in negative sentences in the Simple Past are used quite often.

regular verbs irregular verbs
I didn’t play football. I didn’t go to the supermarket.

Questions:

Use the auxiliary did (Simple Past of do) every time regardless the subject.

regular verbs irregular verbs
Did you play football? Did I go to the supermarket?

Special verbs in the Simple Past

Many frequently used verbs are irregular. You find these words in the appendix of a dictionary or in your English book. You must learn these words by heart.

Have a look at the following lists which can be downloaded and printed. (*.pdf files)

Most common irregular verbs
Irregular verbs – full list
Irregular verbs – Learn effectively

1) have as a full verb
affirmative sentence negative sentence question
every time regardless the subject (I, he, she, it, we, you, they):
I had a book. I did not have a book. Did I have a book?

 

2) be as a full verb
affirmative sentence negative sentence question
I, he, she, it:
I was in Rome. I was not in Rome. Was I in Rome?
we, you, they:
We were in Rome. We were not in Rome. Were we in Rome?

 

3) do as a full verb
affirmative sentence negative sentence question
every time regardless the subject (I, he, she, it, we, you, they):
I did an exercise. I did not do an exercise. Did I do an exercise?
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