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. Her 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,

can i use the past simple with past continuous or present perfect or future.

I went to school yesterday and I was meeting my friends there.
I went to school yesterday and I had met my friends there.
I did my homework after I have finished my school-day.
I learned how to depend on myself because I will go outside the country.

Sir,

Just tell me the correct sentence with reason..

You haven't told me yet
OR
You haven't tell me yet

What i think is the first sentence is correct but if we apply the rule that we use present tense word with did or didn't then the second sentence should be correct. Does that rule apply with have or haven't also ?

Thank you

Hello dhruv_r,

The first sentence is correct; the second is not.

We use the base form/infinitive (not the present tense) when we use 'didn't' to make a negative sentence in the past simple:

You didn't tell me.

She didn't go.

However, when we make a present perfect negative we use 'haven't' or 'hasn't' and the past participle (third form):

You haven't told me yet.

She hasn't gone.

You can find more information on the present perfect form here.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir,
Please tell me the correct sentence ...
 
I have sent you the mail
OR
I have send you the mail
OR
I had send you the mail
 
I want to tell someone that i did this already..
thank you :)

Hello dhruv_r,
The first sentence ('have sent') is the correct form.  To form the present perfect we use 'have' and the third form of the verb (also called the past participle) and the other two sentences have the base form (intfinitive) instead.
You can find more information on perfective forms here.
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir ,
Is it true that after did or didn't we use only present tense words like :
Which sentence is correct ?
 
She didn't expected that ?
OR
She didn't expect that ?
thank you :)

Hello dhruv_r,
You are almost correct.  When we form a negative in the past simple we use:
did + not + infinitive (base form)
We do not use a past form of the main verb, so 'expect' is correct in your examples and 'expected' is incorrect.  The main verb is an infinitive form (base form), however, not a present tense.
I hope that clarifies it for you.
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

One more request Could you tell me where I admit mistakes? especially in grammar)))))))

Hello everyone! I am a new member of British council. I think your website will help me to improve my english. I read about past simple and I have a question Do we have to use time in past simple? Do we have to say time necessarily?

Hi Almaz Kalabaev,
Welcome to LearnEnglish! Many of our members have told us that they've managed to improve their English using our site, so you're in the right place!
I'm not sure whether I understand your question. Do you mean is it necessary to use some kind of time expression (words like yesterday, in 1983, etc.) when using the past simple?
If that's what you mean, the answer is no. If you like at some of the examples above, you'll see sentences in the past simple without a time expression:

  • They always enjoyed visiting their friends.
  • He enjoyed being a student.
  • When did you meet your wife?

If you meant something else, then please ask us again!
Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team
 

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