Simple Past Tense – English Grammar

For detailed expressions about simple past tense;

simple past tense

The tenses simply show the time of an action.

Simple Past Tense indicates an action which is completed at a definite time in the past.

POSITIVE FORM (+):  Subject + V2 ( Second Form of Verb )

NEGATIVE FORM (-): Subject + did not + V( First Form of Verb )

QUESTION FORM (?): Did + Subject + V( First Form of Verb )

NEGATIVE QUESTION FORM (?): Did not / Didn’t + Subject + V ( First Form of Verb )

SHORT ANSWER FORMS ( + / – ) : YES / NO + Subject + did / did not (didn’t)

He listened He did not (didn’t) listen Did he listen Didn’t he listen
She listened She did not (didn’t) listen Did she listen Didn’t she listen
It listened It did not (didn’t) listen Did it listen Didn’t it listen
I listened I did not (didn’t) listen Did I listen Didn’t I listen
You listened You did not (didn’t) listen Did you listen Didn’t you listen
We listened We did not (didn’t) listen Did we listen Didn’t we listen
They listened They did not (didn’t) listen Did they listen Didn’t they listen

ATTENTION! Any auxiliary verbs aren’t used in positive sentences and the second form of the verb is used. ‘ Did or did not’ is used as a auxiliary verb in negative and question sentences and the verb remains simple.

Common tense markers:

Ago / Yesterday / Last week, night, year, summer / Two days, four years ago/ In the past / The day / before yesterday / in 2000 / in September, etc.


  • Did you watch the news last night?
  • Didn’t they go to the party yesterday?
  • She didn’t read the book.
  • He drew beautiful pictures last week.
  • I learnt Spanish last summer.
  • Did you give the present to your friend? Yes, I did.
  • We didn’t buy a new car.
  • There were some problems.
  • You were angry.
  • The child was so hungry.


We also use a question word (Who, What, Why etc.) in past tense.

Question Words (who, what, why, etc.) + did + subject pronoun ( he, she, it, I, you, we, they) + V1  ( First Form of Verb )
Question Words (who, what, why, etc.) + V2 ( Second Form of Verb )+ object pronouns ( me, you, him, her,it, us, them)


  • Where did you stay last night?
  • When did she go to the school?
  • Why did she cry?
  • Who gave you this gift ?
  • What made you angry?


1. Simple Past Tense expresses completed actions in the past.


  • They walked on the beach yesterday.
  • I met him when she was in London.
  • He went to Paris two days ago.
  • We saw him Last Sunday.
  • I heard a terrible explosion last night.
  • When she arrived the home, your son was reading a book.
  • Lisa watched a romantic movie yesterday.
  • Did you visit your grnad father?
  • Didn’t she study very hard for the exam?
  • We didn’t enjoy the trip.
  • Michael wrote her a letter last week.
  • They didn’t forget to turn off the light.
  • Paul answered the question correctly.

2. Simple Past Tense expresses a series of completed actions in the past .


  • I visited my granmother, stayed for 1 or 2 hour, chatted with her and went to my home.
  • My brother woke up, washed my face, got dressed and left home.
  • He arrived at the airport at 9:30 am, took her from the airport and came home at 14:00 pm.

3. Past Tense expresses single period with time expressions such as for 1 hour, for five years,” all day, a whole weekend, etc.


  • I didn’t see him for 2 days.
  • He had a girlfriend for 3 years.
  • The students didn’t answer their teacher’s question for 10 minutes.
  • She chose to stay with her mother all day.
  • My father talked on the phone for 5 minutes.

4. Simple Past Tense expresses the habit in the past if it is used adverbs of frequency like always, often, usually, etc. ( to express the habits in the past, we can use ‘used to’ at the same time.)


  • I always did my homework on time when I was a student.
  • My Father often read me tales before I went to bed.
  • When I was a young, I walked 10 miles to workplace everyday.
  • He usually played football in this garden when he was a child.
  • They sometimes drank milk after they got up.


Using Regular Verbs in The Past Tense:

To change regular verbs into its past tense form, we add -d, -ed, or -ied at the end of the verbs according to their last syllable.

General Rule: Regular verbs become the second  form, taking most commonly ‘–ed’ at the end of the verbs.

Present Past
answer answered
accept accepted
boil boiled
stay stayed
play played
add  added
rain rained
need needed

However there are some exceptions to the rule. These are stated below.

1. If the verb ends with ‘-e ‘, we add ‘ –d ‘.

Present Past
move moved
dance danced
use used

2. If the verb ends with consonant + vowel + consonant, we double the final consonant and add ‘ –ed ‘.

Present Past
plan planned
stop stopped
prefer preferred

3. If the verb ends with W, X or when the final syllable is not emphasized, We do not double the final consonant and add ‘–ed’.

Present Past
show showed
fix fixed
allow allowed

4. If the verb ends with two vowels + a consonant, we do not double the final consonant and add ‘–ed’.

Present Past
rain rained
need needed
wait waited

5. If a two-syllable verb ends with consonant + vowel + consonant, we do not double the final consonant when the stress is on the first syllable and add ‘–ed’.

Present Past
suffer suffered
offer offered
happen happened

6. If the verb ends with consonant + vowel + ‘-l’ , we normally double the final ‘ –l ‘ and add ‘-ed’.

However, in the United States (US) they do not double the ‘-l’ when the accent is on the first syllable.

Present Past (UK) Past (US)
travel travelled ( UK ) traveled ( US )
marvel marvelled ( UK ) marveled ( US )

7. If the verb ends with two consonants, we do not double the final consonant add ‘-ed’.

Present Past
help helped
add added
warn warned

8)If the verb ends with a consonant + ‘-y’ , we throw the final ‘ –y‘ and add ‘-ied’ at the end of the verb.

Present Past
apply applied
reply replied
carry carried

9. If the verb ends with a vowel + ‘-y’ , we throw the final ‘ –y‘ and add ‘-ed’ at the end of the verb, not ‘ied’.

Present Past
enjoy enjoyed
annoy annoyed
play played


As you can guess from the name of irregular verbs, it does not depend on any rules.

Present Past
become became
begin began
do did
come came
take took
eat ate
find found
give gave