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 our question forms page

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

Section: 

Comments

Hello. I don't understand why they use past simple instead of present perfect un this sentence : "who wrote DON QUIXOTE ?". DON QUIXOTE is still written. It is unfinished state , i think

Hello jau20,

I think you are confusing the state of being written (which is true of the book now) with the act of writing the book (which ended in 1605/1615 as far as we know).

The act of writing the book was completed long ago; it is now finished and Cervantes is not still writing it. For completed actions in the past we use the past simple, not the present perfect.

You would use the present perfect for actions which are still unfinished. For example, you might say:

Don Quixote has been loved for generations. [it is still loved today]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I understand better now. Thank you very much Peter

It is not desirable to replicate all the changes here, as the scope of this paper is only to analyze the impact of these amendments. Section 8 of the Act, is substituted and in section 8(a) of the Act, maximum fifteen days adjournment has been provided for summoning of the defendant. Similarly, to curtail the delay, now simultaneous mode of service including registered envelop along with acknowledgement due, courier, affixation and publication in newspaper has been introduced. i am confused about use of has been and is. please guaid

in one paragraph can we change from past to preseny

Hello, I've question about this sentence (It's about a translation I did)
"Here is the files, I also did some changes in the second one to harmonize both.
In both files I tried to reduce the text size because I guessed that the content is for a smartphone game. So maybe that why the tester found some "simplistic" translation."

So my question is : Do i use the pass simple correctly ? Because in this context when I say "I also did some changes" the changes are already done and the action is finished, however, could it be possible to use the present perfect as this changes are now discussed, might be not definitive and will be soon reviewed by the receiver ?

More precisely what I wanna know if in this sentence is : The action is finished, but I'm describing what I did to have a present reaction, so past simple ?

Best regards

Hello Sousse-k,

Yes, you could use the present perfect instead of the past simple here, since you could view the past action of changing the files as still affecting the present moment. For example, perhaps you've just made the changes (mote that we make changes (rather than 'do changes')) and are sending them off immediately afterwards. But the past simple is also fine.

Hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Kirk, as always, your Team gives very instructive comments !

Thanks a lot Peter,and one little clarification in the end:
so then it turns out that the definite article(the) is the ONLY sign here (without knowledge of context) which indicates that the bribery took place only once,and if it weren't any articles at all then it would be impossible to say definitely whether once or repeatedly it happened, have I understood it right?

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