The simple past tense is a grammatical tense that’s used a lot in the English language. But do you know how it works? Read this article to find out.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to form the simple past tense for regular verbs so that you can talk about past events. But first, what is the simple past? And when should you use it? Let’s find out.
The past simple is also known as the past indefinite and is used to talk about things that started and ended in the past. In other words, they are over now. But what kind of things?
First of all, you can talk about events that occurred in the past.
We danced all night long.
You can also use it to talk about moods or states of being in the past.
I enjoyed my graduation party.
And you can use it to talk about actions from the past that were repeated.
They worked at a diner in the evenings.
The thing about the past simple - and all verb tenses, for that matter - is that they have a set of rules, and then they have regular verbs and irregular verbs.
But for the purposes of this article, we’re not going to worry about that. We’re just going to talk about regular verbs.
The rules for making the past simple tense are a little tricky to grasp because there are many different ones depending on how the word is spelled. But don’t worry; we’ll go over all of them together.
There are three different structures, depending on whether you want to make an:
Affirmative sentences are regular statements that present information. Most of your sentences are affirmative.
The basic rule is as follows:
Take the infinitive of the verb and add -ed:
Or simply ‘d’ if the verb already ends with an -e.
If the verb ends in the vowel -y, add -ed as normal:
If the verb ends in the consonant ‘y’, change the –y to –i and add –ed:
If the verb ends in consonant + vowel + consonant, double the final consonant and then add -ed:
Negative sentences in the past simple tense are slightly different. You add ‘did not’ or ‘didn’t’ before the root form of the verb.
So the past tense is now carried over to ‘did not,’ and the verb itself remains untouched.
Here are some examples:
I did not know him before today.
He didn’t tell me that.
We didn’t speak to him yesterday.
To form questions in the past simple tense, use the simple formula:
Did + subject + root verb form
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
Did you see the sunset last night?
Sometimes you might add a question word before ‘did.’
Who did you tell about your dream?
What did you say?
Where did you go last night?
‘Who’ questions sometimes don’t need ‘did’:
Who discovered America?
Well, that pretty much covers the rules for building the simple past tense with irregular verbs. Now we’ll put this into practice with some examples of sentences that use the past tense.
Where did you go on vacation last year?
The pupils didn’t apply themselves the way I would have wanted them to.
I enjoyed a pear for my afternoon snack.
Did you hear what happened to Derek?
We didn’t have lunch together after all.
The fall leaves rattled in the wind.
I missed you while you were gone.
When did you go to the beach?
He watched a handful of episodes before going to sleep.
She said she didn’t eat my yogurt but I didn’t believe her.
That concludes this article on the simple past tense of regular verbs. I hope you found it helpful and that it answered any questions you may have had.
Let’s summarize what we’ve learned:
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