Grammar Lessons: Simple Past Tense

What’s the Simple Past?

The Simple Past is used to talk about actions completed in the past.

  1. She came back last Thursday.
  2. I saw her in the building.
  3. I made a cake for my mom, it was delicious
  4. I ran to the train station every day
  5. I sent some flowers to my girlfriends, today it is her birthday
  6. They didn’t agree with me.
  7. They did their homework, it was kind of difficult
  8. They played video games the whole night
  9. Yesterday I did exercise.
  10. I didn’t go to the gym last sunday.

It can also be used to talk about a period of time

  1. She lived in California for seven years.
  2. They were in London from monday to friday
  3. Last week, I stayed with my sister for a few days
  4. Joe lived in Boston for ten years.
  5. From 1981 to 1984, he worked for a large multinational company.

You will often find the past simple used with time expressions such as these:

  1. I met him yesterday
  2. I saw him two weeks ago
  3. She came to visit me last year
  4. The last time I went to concert was in 2009
  5. I played soccer from May to June
  6. I have known him for a long time
  7.  I worked there for 4 weeks
  8. in the 1990s, I stole many cars
  9. She was the best singer of the last century
  10. In the past, I made so many  mistakes

How to Make Affirmative Statements in the Simple Past

These are some examples of affirmative sentences in the simple past:

Base FormPast SimpleExample
GoWentI went to the store
PlayPlayedYou played video games last night
RunranShe ran 5 KM yesterday
SaySaid He said that she was beautiful
MakeMadeThey made a cake for us
FixFixedWe fixed her bike

How to Make Negative Statements in the simple past

To make the negative form, we add the negative form (didn’t) between the pronoun or sunject and the verb. The verb in negative statements wil be in infinitive.

Simple Past AffirmativeSimple Past Negative
I went to the storeI didn’t go to the store
She wanted moneyShe didn’t want money
He played soccerHe didn’t play soccer
It worked wellIt didn’t work well
We watched a movieWe didn’t watch a movie
you cooked dinnerYou didn’t cook dinner
they ran yesterdayThey didn’t run yesterday

How to Make Questions in the Simple Past

To make a question in the simple past, you have to add the word «did» at the beginning of every question and keep the verb in its infinitive form.

Yes or No Questions in the Simple Past

Simple Past AffirmativeSimple Past Questions
I went to the storeDid I go to the store?
She wanted moneyDid you want money?
He played soccerDid he play soccer?
It worked wellDid it work well?
We watched a movieDid we watch a movie?
you cooked dinnerDid you cook dinner?
they ran yesterdayDid they run yesterday

Wh-Questions in the Simple Past

Where did you go last night? I went to the club with some friends
What did you do last nightI watched a couple of movies
What movie did they watch?They watched a horror movie
Who did she meet?She met a company executive

Common Verbs in the Past Tense With Examples

These are some common verbs in the simple past tense

  • I went to school
  • I ran yesterday morning
  • I watched a movie
  • I saw a cat
  • I cooked dinner
  • I had a great time last night
  • I did my homework
  • I made a cake
  • I walked around the park
  • I slept in a hotel
  • I opened the door
  • I cried a lot

Simple Past: Questions about the Past

These are some common questions you can make when talking about the past

  1. Where did you go on your last vacation?
  2. What did you do for your last birthday?
  3. What did you do last week?
  4. How did you spend your weekend?
  5. What did you do yesterday morning?
  6. Did you watch any movies last night? What movies did you watch?
  7. Who was your frist crush?
  8. What did you do for the last 24 hours?
  9. What was the last movie that you watched?
  10. When was the last time you went shopping?
  11. When was the last time you went on a date?
  12. When was the last time you had a party?
  13. Did you do any exercises last week? What exercises did you do?
  14. How did you spend your days when you were a kid?
  15. How did you have fun when you were in highschool?

Simple Past: Irregular Verbs

bewas/werelight*lit
beatbeatloselost
becomebecamemakemade
beginbeganmeanmeant
blowblewmeetmet
breakbrokepaypaid
bringbroughtputput
buildbuiltreadread
buyboughtriderode
catchcaughtringrang
choosechoseriserose
comecamerunran
costcostsaysaid
cutcutseesaw
dealdealtsellsold
dodidsendsent
drawdrewsetset
drinkdrankshakeshook
drivedrovestealstole
eatateshineshone
fallfellshootshot
feedfedshow*showed
feelfeltshutshut
fightfoughtsingsang
findfoundsinksank
flyflewsitsat
forgetforgotsleepslept
freezefrozeslideslid
getgotspeakspoke
givegavespendspent
gowentspringsprang
growgrewstandstood
hanghungstickstuck
havehadswearswore
hearheardsweepswept
hidehidswimswam
hithitswingswung
holdheldtaketook
hurthurtteachtaught
keepkepttelltold
knowknewthinkthought
laylaidthrowthrew
leadledunderstandunderstood
leaveleftwake*woke
lendlentwearwore
letletwinwon
lie**laywritewrote

Exercises

Simple Past

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