Simple Past Tense

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What Is the Simple Past Tense? (with Examples)

The simple past tense is used to describe a completed activity that happened in the past. In other words, it started in the past and ended in the past.

Uses of the Simple Past Tense

Here are some examples of the simple past tense (shaded): Of course, you can also have the negative version, which is formed "did not" + "[verb in base form]": And, the question versions:

Forming the Simple Past Tense

Here is an infographic explaining the simple past tense:

The Simple Past Tense with Time Expressions

The simple past tense is often seen with a time expression explaining when the activity took place or how long it lasted.

Examples of "when an activity took place": . Examples of "how long an activity took":

The Other Past Tenses

The simple past tense is one of four past tenses. They are:
The 4 Past Tenses Example
simple past tense I went
past progressive tense I was going
past perfect tense I had gone
past perfect progressive tense I had been going

Regular Verbs

If it's a regular verb, the simple past tense is formed like this:

Add "ed" to most verbs: If a verb of one syllable ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], double the final consonant and add "ed": If the final consonant is w, x or y, don't double it: If last syllable of a longer verb is stressed and ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], double the last consonant and add "ed": If the first syllable of a longer verb is stressed and the verb ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], just add "ed": If the verb ends "e", just add "d": If the verb ends [consonant + "y"], change the "y" to an "i" and add "ed":

Irregular Verbs

If it's an irregular verb, the simple past tense is formed in all sorts of different ways. Here are some examples: You just have to learn them.

Click here for a list of the most common irregular verbs.

A Quick Test




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See Also

Tenses Simple past tense
Past progressive tense Past perfect tense Past perfect progressive tense Simple present tense Present progressive tense Present perfect tense Present perfect progressive tense Simple future tense Future progressive tense Future perfect tense Future perfect progressive tense Glossary of grammatical terms