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TENSES: The past simple

past_simple In English grammar, the past simple is used to talk about finished events or actions in the past. Here are some example sentences including regular past simple verbs:

  • I worked last Monday.
  • They studied for an English test last week.
  • She smiled when she saw him.

 

The past simple can also be used to talk about something you did not do.

  • I didn’t work last weekend.
  • He didn’t do his homework.
  • You didn’t tell me!

The past simple verb doesn’t change when you talk about other people.

Positive +Negative –
Iworkeddidn’t work.
Youworkeddidn’t work.
Weworkeddidn’t work.
Heworkeddidn’t work.
Sheworkeddidn’t work.
Itworkeddidn’t work.
Theyworkeddidn’t work.

The past simple verb doesn’t change when you ask questions.

DidIwork?
Didyouwork?
Didwework?
Didhework?
Didshework?
Diditwork?
Didtheywork?

 

To make the past simple tense form of regular verbs, we add +ed .

PresentPast
I workI worked
He worksHe worked

However, pronunciation of regular past tense tense verbs can change.

For example, ‘He worked’ sounds like ‘He workt’

Base verb
Sounds like /t/
Sounds like /d/
sounds like /id/
WorkWorked
LookLooked
TalkTalked
LikeLiked
WatchWatched
LaughLaughed
WishWished
ListenListened
OpenOpened
LearnLearned
ChangeChanged
ClimbClimbed
TryTried
PaintPainted
WantWanted
EndEnded
DecideDecided

Past simple irregular verbs

Irregular verbs don’t follow the rules above. You simply need to learn them.

For example. eat – eated – ate

  • He ate chicken for dinner last night.

Click here to see a list.

Some verbs can be used with a regular or an irregular form.

These include:

  • burn (burned OR burnt)
  • dream (dreamed OR dreamt)
  • learn (learned or learnt)
  • smell (smelled OR smelt)

 

 

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