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The use & example of Past Simple Tense

Level: A1, A2
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We form the Past Simple sentences by using the verb in the so-called second form. Majority of the verbs have regular verbs; to form Past Simple, simply add the -ed ending to their basic form:

Tina passed her exams easily.
We stayed in a hotel in London.

For all singulars and plurals, the verb form remains the same. In English, there is also a group of irregular verbs. Therefore, you should remember the past tense form:

Present SimplePast Simple

Only the verb ‘to be’ has two forms of the past tense – was/were.

I wasWe were
You wereYou were
She/ He/ It wasThey were


Questions and negative sentences are formed using the auxiliary verb did, which is the past form of verb do – an auxiliary verb characteristic for the Present Simple.

In negative sentences, we usually use the short form:

did + not = didn’t

I went to Jamaica on my last holiday.
Where did you go on last holiday?

I slept well last night.
Did you sleep well last night?

I had enough time to call you.
I didn’t have enough time to call you.

She saw me.
She didn’t see me.

When we use the auxiliary verb did, we should remember about keeping the following verb in its basic form:

I didn’t go home.

“To be”- questions & negative 

The exception to the above rule is the verb to be, which forms questions by inversion, that is, without using the auxiliary verb did:

You were home yesterday.
Where were you yesterday?

Your train was late.
Was your train late?

We form negative sentences by adding not to the verb:

was + not = wasn’t
were + not = weren’t

We were nice to her.
I’m afraid we weren’t nice to her.

She was born in May.
She wasn’t born in May.


Some verbs require several spelling changes. There are rules similar to those we observed in Present Continuous and Present Simple, namely:

  • in monosyllabic verbs with a short vowel, ending in a single consonant, then the consonant is doubled:

fit – fitted
stop – stopped

  • in longer verbs, if the last syllable is stressed and ends in a single consonant, we also double the last consonant:

admit – admitted
prefer – preferred

  • in double and more syllable verbs ending with -I, if they are preceded by a short vowel, we double the final -I:

travel – travelled
signal – signalled

  •  if the verb ends with -e, we just add -d:

agree – agreed
prepare – prepared

  • in verbs ending with the consonant + y, the final -y turns into -i:

cry – cried
try – tried

  •  if there’s a vowel in front of y, nothing changes:

play – played
obey – obeyed


Past Simple is used to determine what happened in the past as well as the completed actions.

we use Past Simple whenexample
we say when the action happenedI saw her yesterday.
My son was born in 2014.
we ask when the action took placeWhen did you see her?
When was he born?
although the time is not indicated, it is generally known when the action happenedI didn’t get there on time.
We stayed in a nice hotel.

Apart from the specific dates from the past, there are some typical time expressions used in the Simple Past tense.

a week/month… ago
last month
last year
the day before yesterday
in July


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