Posts Tagged ‘simple past tense’

Talking about past time

December 1st, 2012 in English Grammar

In English, we use six different tenses to talk about the past.

  • The simple past (I worked.)
  • The past continuous (I was working.)
  • The present perfect (I have worked.)
  • The present perfect continuous (I have been working.)
  • The past perfect (I had worked.)
  • The past perfect continuous (I had been working)

The differences between these structures are complicated and in some cases more than one structure is possible.

The simple past tense


Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I washed the car. Did I wash the car? I did not wash the car.
She wrote a poem. Did she write a poem? She did not write a poem.
They accepted the invitation. Did they accept the invitation? They did not accept the invitation.


Contracted negatives are: I didn’t work; she didn’t wait etc.

Negative questions are: Did I not come? Or Did she not reply?

Spelling of regular affirmative past tense forms

Most regular verbs form their past tense forms by adding –ed.

Work –> worked

Stop –> stopped

Start –> started

Rain –> rained

Show –> showed

Help –> helped

Verbs ending in –e, merely add –d

Hope –> hoped

Decide –> decided

Verbs ending in consonant + -y change y to i and add –ed

Cry –> cried

Study –> studied


The simple past tense is the most normal tense for talking about past events. It can be used to talk about quickly finished actions, longer situations or repeated events.

  • I saw Karan yesterday.
  • Did I see Karan yesterday?
  • Yes, I saw Karan yesterday.
  • No, I didn’t see Karan yesterday.
  • Susmita went to the market to buy some articles.
  • Did Susmita go to the market?
  • No, Susmita did not go to the market.
  • I visited my brother last week.
  • Did I visit my brother last week?
  • Yes, I visited my brother last week.
  • No, I didn’t visit my brother last week.