1. Past simple
2. The past of regular and irregular verbs
In English, there are two types of verbs: regular and irregular. In order to construct the Past Simple correctly, we must know whether the main verb is regular or irregular.
Regular verbs form the past by adding the particle -ed to the verb. There are some spelling changes we must take into account:
|One-syllable verbs ending in consonant + vowel + consonant||The last consonant is doubled||Stop||Stopped||Chat||Chatted|
|More than one-syllable verbs ending in: consonant + vowel + consonant when the stress is in the last syllable.||Admit||Admitted||Permit||Permitted|
|Verbs ending in consonant + vowel plus -L||Travel||Travelled||Cancel||Cancelled|
|Verbs ending invowel plus -Y||We just add -ED||Play||Played||Stay||Stayed|
|Verbs ending in consonant plus -Y||The -Y is replaced by -IED||Study||Studied||Tidy||Tidied|
|Verbs ending in -E||We add -D||Live||Lived||Like||Liked|
However, there are a number of verbs which do not follow this form, the irregular ones. Here is a list of the most common ones.
|Present||Past Simple||Past Participle|
As we can see, there are some verbs that share the same form for the present, past and participle, so we will know if the sentence is in the past tense by the context.
2. Structure of past simple
- Affirmative form
Examples I enjoyed I enjoyed the holidays. You You enjoyed the holidays. He He enjoyed the holidays. She She enjoyed the holidays. It It enjoyed the holidays. We We enjoyed the holidays. You You enjoyed the holidays. They They enjoyed the holidays.
- Negative form
Subject auxiliary Verb
Examples I did not
enjoy I didn't enjoy the holidays. You You didn't enjoy the holidays. He He didn't enjoy the holidays. She She didn't enjoy the holidays. It It didn't enjoy the holidays. We We didn't enjoy the holidays. You You didn't enjoy the holidays. They They didn't enjoy the holidays.Remember that in negative sentences the verb is used in the infinitive because the particle did already indicates that the sentence is in the past tense. The same thing will happen in interrogative sentences.
- Interrogative form
AUXILIARY Subject Verb
Examples Did I enjoy? Did I enjoy the holidays? You Did you enjoy the holidays? He Did he enjoy the holidays? She Did she enjoy the holidays? It Did it enjoy the holidays? We Did we enjoy the holidays? You Did you enjoy the holidays? They Did they enjoy the holidays?
Interrogative sentences in simple past also have their own short answers.
Adverb Subject AuxiliarY Yes, I did you he she it we you they Adverb Subject AuxiliarY No, I didn't you he she it we you theyDid she work last night? Yes, she did.Did they finish the food? No, they didn't.
3. How is the past simple used?
The Simple Past is used to talk about actions that began and ended sometime before now, either in the recent or distant past.
With the past simple we usually use certain time expressions.
|Last week/month/year||It was his birthday last week.|
|When I was a child/six||When I lived in London, my English improved.|
|Yesterday||It rained all day yesterday.|
|Six weeks / ten days / ages / a long time ago||Most people didn't have mobile phones ten years ago.|
|The other day||I saw your brother at the bus stop the other day.|
Note that last is placed before the expression of time. However, ago is placed after.
There are two other tenses related to the past simple, the present perfect and the past continuous.
|AFFIRMATIVE||Subject + verb (in past) + (complement)||John bought a present for his sister.|
|NEGATIVE||Subject + didn't + verb (infinitive) + (complement)||They didn't get married.|
|INTERROGATIVE||Did + subject + verb (infinitive) + (complement)||Did you call Marta? Yes, I did.|