Past Simple for beginners

Past simple tense is one of the most exciting and important tenses in English. We often use it to talk about what happened before.

"Past Simple" Tense in English Grammar

What Is Past Simple Tense?

The past simple tense is used to talk about an action that is complete. It indicates actions or states of being in the past.


To form the simple past tense, you have to use the past tense form of the verb.

Just add an '-ed' to the base form of the verb. For example:

  • walk → walked
  • play → played
  • talk → talked

Add '-d' if the verb already ends in '-e' to the base form of the verb. For example:

  • love → loved
  • free → freed
  • bake → baked


If the verb is regular and has one syllable, with a single vowel followed by a consonant, double the final consonant when adding '-ed' to make the past simple:

  • beg → begged
  • skip → skipped

Using Past Simple to Talk about Past Events

Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs do not follow the rule mentioned above. These verbs have different spelling in the past tense form. For example:

  • go → went
  • bring → brought
  • know → knew
  • run → ran
  • have → had
  • do → did

Past Tense of Be

'Be' is one of the special verbs in English which has two forms of past tense:

subject Verb
You/We/They Were
I/He/She/It Was

I am a student. → I was a student.

They are kind. → They were kind.


For negation, add 'did not' or the short form 'didn't' before the base form of the verb:

Affirmative Negative Short Form
I ran. I did not run. I didn't run.
She walked. She did not walk. She didn't walk.
They talked. They did not talk. They didn't talk.

For negating the verb 'be' add 'not' after it.

Statement Negation Short Form
I was happy. I was not happy. I wasn't happy.
They were waiters. They were not waiters. They weren't waiters.


For making questions, all you need to do is to change the place of subject and base form of the verb and use 'did' at the beginning of the sentence:

Statement Questions
I ran. Did I run?
She walked. Did she walk?

If the main verb of the sentence is 'to be', the question form is 'Be + Subject + ….)

Statement Question
I was hungry. Was I hungry?
They were at the mall. Were they at the mall?


The past simple tense is used to talk about:

  • Completed actions in the Past

I had dinner at around 8 in the evening last night.

Mary graduated from college in 2013.

Pronunciation of '-ed'

'-ed' endings have three different pronunciations:

  1. /d/: After all vowel sounds and voiced consonants (except /d/)
  2. /t/: After all voiceless consonants (except /t/)
  3. /ɪd/: After /d/ and /t/


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