Past Simple Tense

December 4, 2017

How to use the Past Simple | What's the structure of the Past Simple Tense


Past Simple Tense - When and How to use the Past Simple Tense





When and How to use the Past Simple Tense


We use  the Past Simple Tense


  • when we talk about a finished past event 


I met my wife in 1932.

I moved to NY last year.

I swam a lot last summer.  - last summer’s gone, no more chance to swim again ‘last summer’ so it’s a finished past event 



  • and we use past simple repeatedly when the actions happened one after another. For example when we are telling a story and the actions followed one after another


 I woke up very early yesterday . After I drank a nice cup of tea, I cleaned the house and, for fun, learnt how to dance the Charleston then I started to do the ironing.


As we are talking about a finished past action we very often use terms referring to the past like:


Yesterday, last week/summer/year/ decade...,  or (a period of time) ago’



What is the structure?


V2 --> speak    spoke    spoken


In the past simple, verbs very often end in ‘ed’ - they are called regular verb forms in the past


clean - cleaned

start - started


but many of the verbs  are irregular in the past tense

wake up - woke up

drink - drank

learn - learnt

Download the list of the irregular verb form

Printable exercises for practising irregular forms - see at the end of the post! 

In questions and negatives we use did/ didn't.


Did you see Susan yesterday?

What did you do last night?

I didn't go to the theatre yesterday.



Don't forget that when you have already used did or didn't in the sentence, the main verb stays in its infinitive (simplest) form. 


Learn with videos, further examples, funny situations - Tenses in the English Language | Visual Learning Course



Online test - Past Simple 


Online test - Past Simple II. 


Printable test - Past Simple


Printable test - Irregular verb forms, past simple and past participle forms



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