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 teacher

i have been studying English tenses since last week,it's good well summarized i understand the context of English tenses.

here i need little bit advise,Dear teachers i want to know the best edition English grammar books,whether in on-line or had-copy

best regard

Hello abdijamo,

I'm afraid that we can't recommend specific titles or websites, but what I can recommend is that you take a look at a variety of books before you purchase one. English grammar is a vast topic, and so most books have a particular focus - it could be on verbs, or typical grammar needed at the intermediate level, etc. If you choose a book that has a focus that matches your needs, you're more likely to find it useful.

Good luck!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Could you help me out with this sentence:
We met 10 years ago, when we both had already graduated from college, but (to get) a job yet.
I’m not sure what tense form to use for ‘to get’

Hello kkolina,

I'm afraid we do not help users with homework or test questions! You need to think about whether this is something which is in the past and finished (then we would use the past simple) or is still true at the moment of speaking (then we would use the present perfect).

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

In the following text, I wonder about the use of the past simple in " if active contrast extravasation >>was<< seen " .... is this the correct way in expressing this thought? ... should it not have been 'if active contrast extravasation >>has been<< shown"

"Background Computed tomographic mesenteric angiography (CTMA) is integral in the management of patients with acute lower gastrointestinal tract bleeding (LGIB). An invasive mesenteric angiography (MA) with a view to embolize the site of bleeding is usually performed
if active contrast extravasation was seen on the CTMA scans. However, the bleeding may have ceased by the time the invasive MA is performed. This study aims to identify predictors for active extravasation in invasive MA following a positive CTMA in patients with massive LGIB."

Hello Clerv,

If I've understood this correctly, the MA is done based on the results of a prior CTMA scan. The past simple, present perfect or even the present simple would communicate this idea in this specific context, i.e. a description of normal procedure. The temporal relationship between the two events is characterised slightly differently with each verb form, e.g. the present simple suggests routine more strongly than the others, but the context makes it clear that the scan precedes the MA.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
is this sentence correct? "They didn’t go to Spain this year." I think it's wrong because the time (this year) is not finished yet. In this case I've read that we must use the present perfect. Can you clarify this doubt?
Thank you!
Marta

Hi Marta,

Yes, while it's true that the present perfect is often used with 'this' + a time period, it is possible to use the past simple. Saying 'They haven't gone to Spain this year' indicates that you are thinking of this year up until now, whereas saying 'They didn't go to Spain this year' indicates that your perspective on this year is that it's finished or nearly finished. For example, on New Year's Eve, the past simple would make more sense, as the year is indeed nearly finished and trips to Spain are no longer possible.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir..

Please tell me the correct sentence from the options provided below :-

1) I didn't expect your reply.

2) I was not expecting your reply.

3) I had not expected your reply.

Please tell me if i can use all of the above sentences for the situation or not.
If not all of them, then which of these i can use.

Thank you :)

Hello dhruv_r,

These sentences are all correctly formed, but it's impossible to say which one is correct without knowing the situation they are to be used in.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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