The Past Simple

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Welcome to your Past Simple lesson! In this topic we talk about:

• What is the Past Simple?

• Regular and irregular verbs.

• Auxiliaries.

• TO BE in the past.

Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.


What is the Past Simple?

Have a look at this sentence:

Roland Garros was born in Saint Denis. He became an aviator in 1909 and flew a monoplane. He died in France in 1918.

The actions WAS, BECAME, FLEW, and DIED are all in the past. So we use the Past Simple.


Regular and irregular verbs

Most of the time, to put a verb in the past you add +ED. These are regular verbs:

walk → walked
work → worked
talk → talked
stop → stopped
invite → invited

Sometimes you have to change the verb completely. These are irregular verbs:

write → wrote
see → saw
have → had
go → went
think → thought


Auxiliaries

The auxiliary in the Past Simple is DID. These are used in questions and negative sentences:

Did you taste my cake?

I didn’t go to the cinema last night.

Why did you eat the last slice of cake?

Sometimes, you can use the auxiliary DID with the verb DO:

I didn’t do my homework!

Did you do the washing up?


TO BE in the past

In the Past Simple, we use WAS/WERE to say TO BE:

I was born in 1984.

We were really happy with your presentation.

Notice that we do not use DID when we use WERE:

He was so tired. 
(not “He did was so tired.”)


Recap

  • When the action you want to talk about is in the past, use the Past Simple.
  • Regular verbs are when you add +ED to the infinitive.
  • Irregular verbs are when you change the verb completely.
  • The auxiliary for the Past Simple is DID.
  • The past for TO BE is WAS/WERE.
  • You cannot use DID and WERE in the same sentence.

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