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

One Response

  1. Priyadarshi kumar June 28, 2017