Past Simple Tense

There are many different forms we can use to talk about the past, but most of the time we use past simple tense.

How Do We Make The Past Simple Tense?

Take a look at the following table:

auxiliary + base verb form or past verb form
did

Here are some more examples of base and past forms of verbs:

V1

base

V2

past

V3

past participle

regular verb mix

jump

watch

mixed

jumped

watched

mixed

jumped

watched

All regular verbs in past form use “-ed”.
irregular verb drink

see

do

drank

saw

did

drunk

seen

done

You must memorize the past form of irregular verbs because they are all different.
Note: It is not required to use the past participle form to make a verb past tense. It was added to the table to show you many different forms a verb has.

Look at the following table to see how to create a positive sentence in the simple past tense:

subject + main verb
past

Look at the following table to see how to create a negative sentence in the simple past tense:

subject + auxiliary verb + not + main verb
did base

Look at the following table to see how to create a question in a sentence while using simple past tense:

auxiliary verb + subject + main verb
did base

The auxiliary verb “did” is not conjugated so it is the same for all subjects (she did, you did, it did, they did, etc.). This includes the base form and the past form. Look at the following table:

subject auxiliary verb main verb
+ She did work today.
I did go home.
She did not study hard.
They did not feel well.

Take a look at the following chart to learn how to ask questions using this form:

auxiliary verb subject main verb
? Did you go home?
Did Alexis stay here?

When using the verb “to be”, you must remember it is the exception to the rules previously mentioned. It must be conjugated for different subjects, such as, “I was”, “you were”, and “she/he was”. Another thing to remember is that we do not use auxiliary verbs when we form negative sentences or questions. When you want to ask a question, you need to switch the places between the subject and verb. Take a look at the following table:

subject verb
+ I was ready.
You were painting.
She was not guilty.
They were not eating dinner.
? Was(verb) she(subject) there?
Were(verb) you(subject) stuck?

How Do We Use The Past Simple Tense?

It does not matter whether you are talking about long or short actions that took place in the past. They both use the past simple tense. Study the following examples:

We celebrated our anniversary yesterday.

I haven’t talked to him in an hour.

When did you wreck your car?

Why did she not finish her work?

past present future
___________________
The action is in the past.

Look at the following table for examples of past simple tense for long actions:

Her birthday was seven months ago.

He started a new job last week.

I bought a new car last year.

How long has it been since their divorce?

past present future
___________________
The action is in the past.

It does not matter how long ago an event took place or how long it lasted, you will use the past simple tense as long as these two sentences are true:

  • The event started and ended in the past.
  • The time and/or place of the event is known.

Take a look at some more examples:

  • We travelled across the state yesterday.
  • It rained last week.
  • Did you find your lost diamonds?
  • We had breakfast together yesterday morning.
  • Did you go to the concert last month?
  • She was hospitalized last year.
  • My son was born six months ago.
  • When were they last here?
  • What year did you graduate college?

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