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.

Structure

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

Regular Verbs

In the case of many verbs, you have to just add an –ed or -d if the verb already ends in -e to the base form of the verb. For example:

  • walk → walked
  • play → played
  • love → loved

Using Past Simple to Talk about Past Events

Irregular Verbs

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

  • go → went
  • bring → brought
  • know → knew

Spelling

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

Negation

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

Affirmative Negative
I ran. I did not work.
She walked. She didn't walk.

Questions

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?

Uses

The past simple tense is used to talk about:

  • completed actions

I had dinner at around 8 in the evening.

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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