Simple Past Tense
The simple past tense is sometimes called the preterite tense. We can use several tenses to talk about the past, but the simple past tense is the one we use most often.
To make the simple past tense, we use:
- past form only
- auxiliary did + base form
Here you can see examples of the past form and base form for irregular verbs and regular verbs:
|The past form for all regular verbs ends in -ed.|
|The past form for irregular verbs is variable. You need to learn it by heart.|
|You do not need the past participle form to make the simple past tense. It is shown here for completeness only.|
The structure for positive sentences in the simple past tense is:
The structure for negative sentences in the simple past tense is:
|subject||+||auxiliary verb||+||not||+||main verb|
The structure for question sentences in the simple past tense is:
|auxiliary verb||+||subject||+||main verb|
The auxiliary verb did is not conjugated. It is the same for all persons (I did, you did, he did etc). And the base form and past form do not change. Look at these examples with the main verbs go and work:
|subject||auxiliary verb||main verb|
Exception! The verb to be is different. We conjugate the verb to be (I was, you were, he/she/it was, we were, they were); and we do not use an auxiliary for negative and question sentences. To make a question, we exchange the subject and verb. Look at these examples:
|You, we, they||were||in London.|
|You, we, they||were||not||happy.|
|Were||you, we, they||late?|
We use the simple past tense to talk about an action or a situation - an event - in the past. The event can be short or long.
Here are some short events with the simple past tense:
|The car exploded at 9.30am yesterday.|
She went to the door.
We did not hear the telephone.
Did you see that car?