The Simple Past Tense (Example & Explanation)| English Grammar

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Helena Daily English
Helena Daily English
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I. Form
1. Affirmative (+)

Subject + Verb + ED

• Example 1: She died 10 years ago
• Example 2: They went to the cinema to watch a hot movie

2. Negative (-)

Subject + Did + NOT + Verb (bare infinitive) 

• Example 1: She didn’t (did not) listen to music 1 year ago
 Example 2: She didn’t enjoy the party last night

3. Interrogative (?)

Did + Subject + Verb (bare infinitive) ?

• Example 1: Did you meet her at the party last night?
• Example 2: Why did they come to the library last week?

3. Interro-Negative (?)

Didn’t + Subject + Verb + ED

  • Example1: Didn’t you study this subject ?
  • Example2: Didn’t they do homework last night?


II. How to use
1. The simple past tense is used to describe a completed activity that happened in the past. And, it started in the past and ended in the past.

  • Ex1: It rained last night
  • Ex2: I taught English last year

2. For a repeated, habitual, or usual action happened in the past

  • Ex1: She often played football on Sunday morning
  • Ex2: They usually went to school by Bus

3. We use the simple past tense to list a series of completed actions in the past. These actions happen 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on.

  • Ex1: I never smoked, drank, and stayed up late
  • Ex2:  He arrived from the airport at 8:00, checked into the hotel at 9:00, and met the others at 10:00.

4. The tense can be used with a duration which starts and stops in the past. A duration is a longer action often indicated by expressions such as: for two years, for five minutes, all day, all year, etc.

  • Ex1: They stayed in the Hotel for two weeks
  • Ex2:  How long did you wait for a new member?
    • I waited for him for more than one hour

5. And it can also be used to describe past facts which are no longer true.

  • Ex1: She was very shy as a kid, and now she is very outgoing
  • Ex2: The price of a computer was too expensive for people in the past


III. How to Formulate the Simple Past

1. For regular verbs, add “ed” to the root form of the verb (or just “d” if the root form already ends in an “e”):

  • Ex: Play -> Played, Look -> Looked, Happen -> Happened, Start -> Started, Change -> Changed, Love -> Loved

2. For irregular verbs. The simple past tense of some irregular verbs looks exactly like the root form

  • Ex: Put -> Put, Cut -> Cut, Set -> Set

3. For other irregular verbs, including the verb to be, the simple past forms are more erratic:

  • Ex: Am/is/are -> Was/were, See -> Saw, Build -> Built, Go -> Went, Take -> Took,…

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