The simple past tense is used to describe an action that happened in the recent past. It is also called Past Indefinite Tense. See the basic structure of the past simple sentence.
“Subject + Past Form + Object”
Simple Past with Regular Verbs
We use regular verbs in the simple past that always end with a -d. We usually add -ed to the base form of the verb to make past form:
- I visited Australia.
- I opened the door.
- I started a business.
- I worked in the local bank.
Rewrite the following sentences in the past indefinite tense by adding -ed to the simple form of the verb.
1. I (to use) my hairdryer to dry my hair.
2. Thomas (to answer) the phone.
3. The car (to land) upside down in the ditch.
4. The eel (to kill) the toad.
5. My brother (to join) the army.
2. We add only -d if the verb ends in –e
- You owed me money.
- I believed your story.
Rewrite the following sentences in the past indefinite tense by adding -d to the simple form of the verb.
1. My neighbors (to move) to Vancouver.
2. He (to describe) the accident in detail.
3. I (to prove) that I was innocent in court.
4. The singer (to please) the audience.
5. I (to decide) to learn English.
3. Delete y and add ied to the base form of the verb if the verb ends in y preceded by a consonant.
My cousin married a doctor.
The man denied everything.
Rewrite the following sentences in the past indefinite tense by adding -ied to the simple form of the
1. We (to try) a new recipe last night.
How to pronounce -ed
- When -ed is added to verbs that end in d pronounce the last syllable separately.
- When -ed is added to verbs that end in t, pronounce the last syllable separately.
- The ending of all other regular verbs is pronounced as one syllable when -ed is added.
Simple Past with Irregular Verbs
Some verbs do not use the -ed ending to express the past tense. These are irregular verbs, and they have unique past tense forms. For example;
Shake – Shook, Buy- Bought, Do – Did, Break – Broke, etc
- The house shook a lot during the earthquake.
- We bought a nice gift for our parents.
- I did the dishes after supper.
- You broke my favorite cup.
Negative Sentence (Past Simple)
To form negative sentences in the past simple tense, we must use the auxiliary verb did (the past tense of do) together with not before the main verb of the sentence.
Place did not after the subject and use the simple form of the verb to create the negative form of the simple past tense for regular and irregular verbs.
“Subject + Did not + Verb + Object”
- I did not forget to tell him.
- She did not waste my valuable time.
- Marcia did not report her income.
- I did not shake the bottle of medicine.
- My uncle did not shave his head.
- He did not apologize to his friend.
Rewrite the following sentences using did not or didn’t to express the negative form of the present indefinite tense.
1. I forgot to tell him.
2. She wasted my valuable time.
3. Marcia reported her income.
4. I shook the bottle of medicine.
5. My uncle shaved his head.
Interrogative Sentence (Past Simple)
Like negative sentences, we have to use the auxiliary verb did to make interrogative sentences (sentences that ask questions) in the past simple tense.
Place did before the subject to create questions in the simple past tense. The base form of the verb is always used when creating questions in the simple past tense with regular and irregular verbs.
“Did + Subject + Verb + Object”
- Did Jessica find a starfish on the beach?
- Did the squirrel eat the peanuts?
- Did he shoot a deer last weekend?
- Did I indicate my overtime hours on my timesheet?
- Did they remain friends after the argument?
Rewrite the following sentences to create the question form of the present indefinite tense.
1. You saw the beautiful rainbow.
2. He offended you when he said that.
3. Jessica found a starfish on the beach.
4. The squirrel ate the peanuts.
5. He shot a deer last weekend
1. Did you see the beautiful rainbow?
2. Did he offend you when he said that?
3. Did Jessica find a starfish on the beach?
4. Did the squirrel eat the peanuts?
5. Did he shot a deer last weekend?
We can also use question words (such as who/whom, what, where, etc.) before did if we are asking for specific information. For example:
We form these by adding the auxiliary verb did before the subject of the sentence and the word not after the subject. Did and not are very often contracted, in which case didn’t comes before the subject: