Level: beginner

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

called liked wanted worked

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

Base form Past tense
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

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 several times 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 expressions with ago with the past simple:

I met my wife a long time ago.

Past simple 1
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Past simple 2
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Past simple questions and negatives

We use did to make questions with the past simple:

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

But questions with who often don't use did:

Who discovered penicillin?
Who wrote Don Quixote?

Past simple questions 1
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Past simple questions 2
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We use didn't (did not) to make negatives with the past simple:

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

Past simple negatives 1
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Past simple negatives 2
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Level: intermediate

Past simple and hypotheses

We can also use the past simple to refer to the present or future in hypotheses (when we imagine something). See these pages:

Comments

Hello teacher,

Someone told me that we use continuous tense when we are focusing on the action and we use past tense when we are focusing in the completion of the action, but as I learned here it's different with past perfect.

I went to school yesterday and I had met my friends there.

We can say here the action is completion , but you said it's wrong. I mean that the meeting is done already and the action is completed .

I went to school yesterday and I was meeting my friends there. ( here it's clear the speaker focus on the "meeting" not for the completion of the action. and that why he/she used the past continuous.

I can say
I went to school yesterday and I met Ali. ( in cause I want to tell that I met him already and the meeting was completed without interest or important of the action itself.

many examples.

I was dreaming yesterday. ( here to draw attention about the dream and no interest in completion of the action or not.)
I dreamed yesterday.

He was eating fast in the restaurant. it's shameful, he must have eaten slowly. ( here we draw attention about his way of eating and the action of eating itself).
He ate fast in the restaurant and finish all food, they bring him another dishes. ( here we talk about the completion of the verb eat)

Am I right teacher or wrong?

Hi sdgnour2014,

There are so many different situations that different verb forms are used in that using a general rule like the one you mention is very difficult. Also, I think this person might have meant the perfective aspect (not past tense) is used when there is a focus on completion.

"I went to school yesterday and I was meeting my friends there" sounds strange to me. went is used correctly with yesterday, but then the word and, which normally would imply another action completed after the action went (e.g. "and met my friends there"), is used with the past perfect. This doesn't make sense because the past perfect is used to indicate an action previous to another point in time, and this idea conflicts with the idea of and. You could say, for example, "I went to school because I had already met my friends".

I hope this helps you. If you have a big question like this, I'd recommend you try to break into smaller pieces - not only can we give you better answers, I think it will help you understand the issue better.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks teacher,

I understand that , It 's right to say : I went to school yesterday and I met my friends there.

I can understand also that with : and , we use past simple.

I finished my work and went to home.
I sent the message and went to sleep.

My question can we use :( and ) also with past continuous tense.

I was working and playing football.

Hello sdgnour2014,

The word 'and' is a conjunction and it is not dependent on certain tenses; it can be used to join any verb forms provided they make sense and follow other grammatical rules.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thanks teachers.

and is conjunction and we can use it with all tenses.

I mean the past simple here and past continuous , I want to see how to use " and " with them:

1/ I drink juice and after that I drink tea.
2/ I wake up at 6 o'clock and drank tea and prayed and went to work.
3/ I worked at DHL and after that I worked at Pepsi and now I work at Aramco.

Hello sdgnour2014,

I'm afraid I can only repeat my previous answer: there is no connection between 'and' and which tenses are used.  The tenses must be used logically and in an appropriate context; 'and' has not bearing on this, and no connection to it.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello teacher peter

I understand what you have said, thanks,

But, sometimes we cannot use " and" with perfect tense and my point is:

I went to school and I had met my friends. ( wrong)

But If I use " and " with past simple:
I went to school and I met my friends ( correct)

Because (and) means another action after it.

Also I think I cannot say:
I finish my work and I had visited my friends. ( wrong)
But , I can say
I finish my work and visited my friends. ( correct)

Also, I try to use "and" with past continuous and I wonder if its correct to use it correctly.

Am I right teacher?

Hello sdgnour2014,

Once again, I have to repeat that the conjunction 'and' does not influence whether or not certain tenses are correct; you are looking at this the wrong way and are looking for a rule in the wrong place.  It is perfectly acceptable to use 'and' with any tense providing the tenses are used logically and grammatically.  The reason the sentence you quote is wrong is not because of the conjunction; it is wrong because you cannot use a past perfect form to express an action which follows a past simple action.  The problem is that the sequence of tenses is illogical, not that the conjunction 'and' is in the sentence.

'And' does not necessarily imply a sequence.  It can join sentences describing simultaneous actions ('I lived in Rome and worked at a bank') and it can join actions in different orders ('I lived in Rome and, before that, I lived in Paris' / 'I lived in Paris and, after that, I lived in Rome').  The conjunction does not determine the verb form; reality and our perspective on that reality determine the verb form we choose.

I hope that clarifies the issue for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello teacher,
please define infinitives

Hello thendral,

I'd suggest you look up the word in our dictionary (see the search box on the right). Some people also refer to the infinitive as the "first form" of a verb.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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