past simple

 

Forms

With most verbs the past tense is formed by adding -ed:

call >> called; like >> liked; want >> wanted; work >> worked

But there are a lot of irregular past tenses in English. Here are the most common irregular verbs in English, with their past tenses:

infinitive irregular past
be
begin
break
bring
buy
build
choose
come
cost
cut
do
draw
drive
eat
feel
find
get
give
go
have
hear
hold
keep
know
leave
lead
let
lie
lose
make
mean
meet
pay
put
run
say
sell
send
set
sit
speak
spend
stand
take
teach
tell
think
understand
wear
win
write
was/were
began
broke
brought
bought
built
chose
came
cost
cut
did
drew
drove
ate
felt
found
got
gave
went
had
heard
held
kept
knew
left
led
let
lay
lost
made
meant
met
paid
put
ran
said
sold
sent
set
sat
spoke
spent
stood
took
taught
told
thought
understood
wore
won
wrote

 

Use

We use the past tense to talk about:

  • something that happened once in the past:

I met my wife in 1983.
We went to Spain for our holidays.
They got home very late last night.

  • something that happened again and again in the past:

When I was a boy I walked a mile to school every day.
We swam a lot while we were on holiday.
They always enjoyed visiting their friends.

  • something that was true for some time in the past:

I lived abroad for ten years.
He enjoyed being a student.
She played a lot of tennis when she was younger.

  • we often use phrases with ago with the past tense:

I met my wife a long time ago.

Questions and negatives

We use did to make questions with the past tense:

When did you meet your wife?
Where did you go for your holidays?
Did she play tennis when she was younger?
Did you live abroad?

But look at these questions:

Who discovered penicillin?
Who wrote Don Quixote?

For more on these questions see question forms

We use didn’t (did not) to make negatives with the past tense:

They didn’t go to Spain this year.
We didn’t get home until very late last night.
I didn’t see you yesterday. 

Exercise

Comments

Hi teachers
Is it possible to use the pronoun (I) after (did) in interrogative sentences?
e.g did i call you last night. is it correct??

Hello Karzan_Camus,

Yes, that is a correctly formed question in the past simple - the only thing missing is a question mark (?) at the end: 'Did I call you last night?'

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
when is the right time to use shall and will? for instance;-
i shall call you later or i will call you later which one is correct?

Hi jeromedamas,

Could you post your question about future forms on a related page, please? This will help to keep the site coherent and ensure that your question (and our answer) will be found by people looking for information on that topic.

Many thanks,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

past simple

back next
Forms

With most verbs the past tense is formed by adding -ed:

call >> called; like >> liked; want >> wanted; work >> worked

But there are a lot of irregular past tenses in English. Her are the most common irregular verbs in English, with their past tenses:(This should be :Here not Her)

Hello Rajan,

Thanks for telling us about this problem. I've fixed it now.

Do let us know if you see any other typos on LearnEnglish!

Best wishes,

Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

respected sir , i have smome questions to ask related to simple past . simple past is used to describe action which has happened once aswell as repeted actions so how do we make a difference and what correct way to use it.example 1.The women wrote letter to police against some boys who would through garbage in her house 2nd. The woman wrote a letter to police against some boys who threw garbage in her hose. now my question is in the first sentence how many times she wrote the letter to police and in the second sentence how many times the boys threw garbage

hellow!
correct me if i'm wrong, the example "She played a lot of tennis when she was younger" seemed to be in simple past in the form of "something that was true for some time in the past" but i found out it is also in the form of "something that happened again and again in the past" because she used to play tennis several times but in the past.

Hello Oscas Po,

You are correct: the past simple is used here for something which was true in the past but is not longer the case. This may be something which happened once or which was repeated, and it may be something that was true for a long time or a short time. The key point is that it was in the past and is completed.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hi teacher,

how about understand?

if a teacher ask do you understand when he taught yesterday, should we answer
I understood, or I understand?

If I said I understood, does it means I understood yesterday, but now I don't understand?

Actually, I am very confused about past tense. The past tense shows something happens in past, how about something happened in past, but still bring forward to now.

For example, She felt shy easily, now she is no longer feel shy.
I understood what you said yesterday. (now, I no longer understand that)

I wish you could help me, thank you so much

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