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

Hello teacher, and thank you for replying,.could you please look at this:
My friend was supposed to visit me.
If am still at the bas stop waiting him(i waited him from 9 to 11 and hi didn't show up what is correct :
I have waited him for 2 hours (since 9 o'clock)
I have been waiting him for 2 hours.
-I come back to home and he didn't come(i am talking with my family)
I waited him for 2 hours(or untill 11 o,clock)
I have waited him for 2 hours (untill 11 o'clock)

Hello ronaz2015,

In the first situation, where you're still at the bus stop, by far the more likely statement would be 'I've been waiting for him for two hours' (notice you wait for someone or something).

In the latter situation, when you're at home speaking to your family, the version with the past simple is the best – using the present perfect doesn't work, because the period of time you're speaking about already finished.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there,
Could you please explain me more about this point:

- Something that happened again and again in the past
ex: When I was a boy, I walked a mile to school every day.

Is that use the same with the use of 'used to'? because Both are telling a habit and both happened in the past. So, I can say, 'When I was a boy, I used to walk a mile to school every day'.

Thanks

Hello Sistersepti,

Yes, this sentence with 'used + infinitive' is also correct. As it used to speak about a past habit that is no longer true, 'used + infinitive' is used in a more limited set of circumstances than the simple past. For example, 'used + infinitive' is not used to speak about how long something happened in the past (e.g. 'I used to live in Singapore for five years' is not correct – a normal past simple is needed here).

Any sentence with 'used + infinitive' can be correctly rewritten in the simple past (though it may be less specific), but not all past simple sentences can be rewritten with 'used + infinitive'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

simple present tense

1) People are prefer to go the cinema

Above sentence right for "present tense"

If i will remove "were" then sentence will right.

But for "simple past tense" below sentence is wrong

why below sentence wrong ?

1) People were preferred to go the cinema

please help me why above sentence wrong for simple past sentence.

Thanks in advance.

Hello manthan228,

'Prefer' is a regular verb which is followed by 'to infinitive', a noun or a gerund. Therefore your sentences should be:

Present

People prefer to go to the cinema.

Past

People preferred to go to the cinema.

There is no need for 'are' or 'were' in these sentences.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ok But in this sentence

1) Males were more interested in 3G services.
2) People were preffered or interested to go to the cinema.

Why we put "were" in sentence 1 even sentence 1 is right.
I do not understand that sentence 1 is right Both sentences used "were" so why sentence 2 is wrong and sentence 1 is right ?

Hello manthan228,

'interest' and 'prefer' work in different ways. 'interest' is both a noun and a verb, and 'interested' is the simple past of the verb 'interest', but it can also function as an adjective. When you see it with the verb 'be', as in 'People were interested in 3G services', it is functioning as an adjective.

'prefer' is only a verb, though 'preferred' can be a verb in the simple past and also an adjective. For the idea in 2, you could say, for example, 'People preferred to go to the cinema' ('preferred' is a verb) or 'People were interested in going to the cinema' ('interested' is an adjective).

I'd suggest you look up both words using the dictionary search box on the lower right side of this page. There you can see more examples of how they are used, which I think might help you understand them.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teacher,
I don't know how we can know when to take "always" in the past simple when used "always" in the present simple? I hope you'll help me know clearly about it. Thanks you very much!

Hi Phan thủy,

I'm not sure what exactly confuses you about the use of 'always' and it's not possible for us to provide long explanations of all possible uses of a word. Perhaps you could post an example sentence which is confusing for you and we'll try to help with that.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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