Simple Past Tense (Formula, Usage, Examples)
Simple Past Tense (Formula, Usage, Examples)
Simple past tense is used to express the actions that happened in the past or happened one after the other. For example, The baby crawled.
- Last night
- Last Monday
- In 1998
- An hour ago
Structure / Formula
Subject + V2 + Object
|Subject||Simple Past (V2)||Object|
See the structure to make affirmative/positive sentences.
Subject + Past(V2) + Object
Examples of positive sentences
- Julia made a sponge cake.
- He went to the hill station.
We use ‘not’ after auxiliary verb to make the sentence negative.
Subject + did + not + Base form (V1) + object.
Examples of negative sentences.
- Julia did not make a sponge cake.
- He did not go to the hill station.
To make the question, auxiliary verb come at the start of the sentence and question mark at the end.
Did + subject + base form (V1) + object + ?
Examples of question sentences.
- Did Julia make a sponge cake?
- Did he go to the hill station?
|Action that happened at definite time.||She went to the park an hour ago.|
|Actions that happened one after the other.||He ordered pizza. He received the pizza at home. He ate it.|
|The actions or states that finished in past.||His mother used to wash his clothes.|
|1. He drew the old man out of the ditch.|
|2. She used to wash clothes daily.|
|3. He wrote an interesting story.|
|4. The child completed his homework.|
|5. Did he live in this house?|
|6. His mother would wash clothes.|
|7. Did he write a letter?|
|8. We paid tribute to our national poet.|
|9. The boys recited the national anthem.|
|10. She did not sleep.|
How to Formulate the Simple Past
For regular verbs, add -ed to the root form of the verb (or just -d if the root form already ends in an e):
Play→Played Type→Typed Listen→Listened Push→Pushed Love→Loved
For irregular verbs, things get more complicated. The simple past tense of some irregular verbs looks exactly like the root form:
Put→Put Cut→Cut Set→Set Cost→Cost Hit→Hit
For other irregular verbs, including the verb to be, the simple past forms are more erratic:
See→Saw Build→Built Go→Went Do→Did Rise→Rose Am/Is/Are→Was/Were
The good news is that verbs in the simple past tense (except for the verb to be) don’t need to agree in number with their subjects.Wolfgang polished his medal. The other winners polished their medals too.
How to Make the Simple Past Negative
Fortunately, there is a formula for making simple past verbs negative, and it’s the same for both regular and irregular verbs (except for the verb to be). The formula is did not + [root form of verb]. You can also use the contraction didn’t instead of did not.Wolfgang did not brag too much about his hula hoop skills. Wolfgang’s girlfriend didn’t see the contest.
For the verb to be, you don’t need the auxiliary did. When the subject of the sentence is singular, use was not or wasn’t. When the subject is plural, use were not or weren’t.The third-place winner was not as happy as Wolfgang. The fourth-place winner wasn’t happy at all. The onlookers were not ready to leave after the contest ended. The contestants weren’t ready to leave either.
Regular and Irregular Verbs
In order to convert regular verbs from their base form to the simple past form, we add -ed. For irregular verbs, however, the simple past form doesn’t follow this rule and can vary significantly and you simply need to learn them by heart. There are many irregular verbs but below you can find the most common ones that you need to know for daily use.
Regular verb examples
- place – placed
- dance – danced
- plan – planned
- stop – stopped
- fix – fixed
- snow – snowed
- rain – rained
- need – needed
- help – helped
- add – added
- worry – worried
- play – played
As you can see from these examples, with most regular verbs we add -ed. When a verb ends in -e we simply add -d. And when a verb ends in a consonant and -y, we change the -y to -i and add -ed.
Irregular verb examples
- be – was/were
- buy – bought
- come – came
- do – did
- eat – ate
- find – found
- go – went
- have – had
- leave – left
- make – made
- pay – paid
- see – saw
- take – took
- tell – told
- write – wrote
How to Ask a Question
The formula for asking a question in the simple past tense is did + [subject] + [root form of verb].Did Wolfgang win the gold medal or the silver medal? Where did Wolfgang go to celebrate? Did the judges decide fairly, in your opinion?
When asking a question with the verb to be, you don’t need the auxiliary did. The formula is was/were + [subject].Was Wolfgang in a good mood after the contest? Were people taking lots of pictures?
Common Regular Verbs in the Past Tense
Common Irregular Verbs in the Past Tense
- He ______ not ______ a letter. (not write)
- ______ we _____ the sum? (solve)
- We _____ tribute to our national poet. (pay)
- The boys _____ the national anthem. (recite)
- They _____ my invitation. (accept)
- _____ poor children _____ toys? (buy)
- _____ he _____ the river? (swim)
- He _____ badminton yesterday. (play)
- The child’s mouth _____ on seeing the sweets. (water)
- She ______ every challenge bravely. (face)
- He did not write a letter.
- Did we solve the sum?
- We paid tribute to our national poet.
- The boys recited the national anthem.
- They accepted my invitation.
- Did poor children buy toys?
- Did he swim the river?
- He played badminton yesterday.
- The child’s mouth watered on seeing the sweets.
- She faced every challenge bravely.
- It rained heavily last week.
- I assented with your proposal.
- The doctor examined the patient thoroughly.
- They planted the saplings two months ago.
- My father died three years ago.
- .He swam across the river.
- The academic staff of the college arranged a dinner.
- The gardener mowed the grass yesterday.
- The company launched a new hair growing product last night.
- The kids bought the toys from the toy shop.
- It did not rain heavily last week.
- I did not assent with your proposal.
- The doctor did not examine the patient thoroughly.
- They did not plant the saplings two months ago.
- My father did not die three years ago.
- .He did not swim across the river.
- The academic staff of the college did not arrange a dinner.
- The gardener did not mow the grass yesterday.
- The company did not launch a new hair growing product last night.
- The kids did not buy the toys from the toy shop.
- Did it rain heavily last week?
- Did I assent with your proposal?
- Did the doctor examine the patient thoroughly?
- Did they plant the saplings two months ago?
- Did my father die three years ago?
- Did he swim across the river?
- Did the academic staff of the college arrange a dinner?
- Did The gardener mow the grass yesterday?
- Did the company launch a new hair growing product last night?
- Did the kids buy the toys from the toy shop?
- He met his wife 6 years ago.
- They watched a movie yesterday.
- You went to the bed early.
- She didn’t study in the library.
- They had dinner last night.
- The police didn’t find any clues.
- I became a teacher two years ago.
- He bought a new car last week.
- We studied very hard last night.
- I graduated from the university last year.
Examples of simple past tense in sentences
- She completed her breakfast. (statement)
- She did not complete her breakfast. (negative)
- Did she complete her breakfast? (question)
- She cleaned her bedroom. (statement)
- She didn’t clean her room. (negative)
- Did she clean her bedroom? (question)
- They played a basketball game. (statement)
- They did not play a basketball game. (negative)
- Did they play a basketball game? (question)
- I went to New york. (statement)
- I didn’t go to New York. (negative)
- Did I go to New York? (question)
- Tom __________ to work as a web designer. (use)
- It __________ yesterday morning. (drizzle)
- Five girls __________ in the park. (to be)
- She __________ the rooms 10 minutes ago. (sweep)
- The mechanic __________ my bike. (repair)
- He __________ the job last month. (get)
- I __________ soundly last night. (sleep)
- Jimmy __________ verbs last month. (practice)
- I __________ for Venice last night. (leave)
- He __________ the kite when the storm broke. (fly)
Complete the following sentences. Use the appropriate form of verbs.
(write, complete, leave, punish, come, hit, wear, cry, practice, enjoy, run, see, know, study, stop)
- He _____ a large bird.
- I enjoyed last night but my younger brother _____________ it much. (not)
- ______ you __________ your homework?
- We were exhausted totally, so we _____ earlier from the program.
- How hard _____ he _____ the ball with the bat?
- I _______ your secret.
- We _______________ our rehearsals yesterday. (not)
- Margaret _________ a letter to the principal.
- He was a brave son, but he ______ at his father’s funeral.
- _____ he ______ with you?
- We _____ away from the Grocery shop.
- They badly __________ him for his bad behavior in the class.
- Jane __________ a single word for her exams. (not)
- ______ you _______ these sports shoes for your practice?
- The train _________ before the station.
- He saw a large bird.
- I enjoyed last night but my younger brother didn’t enjoy it much.
- Did you complete your homework?
- We were exhausted totally, so we leave earlier from the program.
- How hard did he hit the ball with the bat?
- I know your secret.
- We didn’t practice our rehearsals yesterday.
- Margaret wrote a letter to the principal.
- He was a brave son, but he cried at his father’s funeral.
- Did he come with you?
- We studied away from the glossary shop.
- They badly cry him for his bad behavior in the class.
- Jane didn’t know a single word for her exams.
- Did you run these sports shoes for your practice?
- The train stop before the station.
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