Past Simple Tense

The past simple tense can be used to describe past actions, habits or routines.

Positive: subject + past tense verb
Negative: subject + did not + infinitive
Question: Did + subject + infinitive?

Regular verbs: We add -ed or -d to regular verbs when making the past simple. See 10 examples of common regular verbs below.  
Infinitive Form Past Tense Form
love loved
walk walked
play played
study studied
work worked
watch watched
talk talked
listen listened
dance danced
cook cooked
Irregular verbs: Irregular verbs do not follow this rule. Irregular verbs take a completely new form in the past simple. These need to be studied and memorized. Here are examples of 10 of the most common irregular verbs in the past simple.
Infinitive Form Past Tense Form
be was/were
have had
do did
go went
say said
see saw
come came
give gave
take took
make made

Common uses:

1. Completed actions in the past

  • I walked to the store yesterday.
  • I did not watch TV last night.
  • Did you eat breakfast this morning?

2. Past habits or routines

  • I always drank coffee in the morning.
  • I did not eat¬†vegetables when I was a kid.
  • Did you play soccer when you were younger?

3. Past events that happened at a specific time

  • He arrived at the party at 8 pm.
  • They did not finish the project before the deadline.
  • Did you see the movie last week?



Check your understanding of the past simple tense

Past Simple Quiz

Yesterday, I __________ to the shop to buy some bread.
have gone
was going
Last night, I __________ a movie with my friends.
have watched
was watching
She __________ her keys in the car yesterday.
was forgetting
has forgotten
They __________ a great time at the party last night.
had been having
were having
He __________ his homework before he went to bed.
has finished
was finishing
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