The Past Simple



When do we use the past simple?  




To talk about actions completed in the past at a definite time.
When did you meet him?
I met him many years ago.



 For actions in the past whose time is not specified, but which happened at a period of time which is now over.
I failed the driving test.
The dog ate my homework
For a habit in the past 
She never listened to her parents as a teenager.
I ate a lot when I was pregnant.  




Remember: if you can substitute your idea using "used to", then it’s the Past Simple.


 How do we use the past simple? 




 [+] Add -ed at the end of the verb
       Unless it's an irregular verb (V2- there are many of them.
 We (/ I / you / he / she / it / they) worked here last year.
  I (/ you / he / she / it / we / they) studied at the University of Connecticut





[-] Add the helping verb did and negation word not = did not = didn't
       The main verb then goes back to its base form - V1 (didn't already indicates the past) 
She (/ I / you / he / it / we / they) didn't see it coming.
They (/ I / you / he / she / it / we) didn't attend the meeting.





[?] The helping verb Did begins the question
        The main verb then goes back to its base form - V1 (Did already indicates the past)
Did you (/ I / he / she / it / we / they) find a good parking spot?
Did it (/ I / you / he / she / we / they) work?
   What did you have for breakfast?
    How much did you pay for your bike?




The relevant form is V2








base form
same as
the infinitive without to
past simple
(instead of
used in the
present perfect
and passive
to bet   bet     bet       
to buy bought bought
drink drank drunk
eat ate eaten
forget forgot forgotten
see saw seen
sell sold sold
think thought thought













Time Expressions used in the Past Simple:


Last (week, year…)  
(2 minutes, 5 weeks…) ago  
A specific date (In 1994, On July 11th…)  
When (I was in the army…)  
Yesterday, the previous day (…)  


 Now practice the past simple.  
The links below provide exercises with immediate feedback so you can test yourself.

** For kids:
 back to the Tenses in English page
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1. James Douglas (משתמש/ת אנונימי/ת) 2019/04/27 17:52