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Details on the Past Simpe form available here

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Further Functions

We  have established that we use the Past Simple to talk about completed or  finished actions in the past. Here we can look at some more detailed  understandings of these completed and finished actions:

  • talk about a definite time in the past

This  obviously has reference to when the action happened, but that is not  necessarily a specific reference to a time, but maybe a period of time  or era.

Did you play with Gazza in 1991?

You moved to Zaragoza in September

I always wanted to be a footballer when I was young

  • talk about the past without reference to time

On  occasion, we can use the Past Simple without time expression. Be aware,  this happens especially when the time referred to has been established  or is well known by those in the conversation


Without reference to time (time is understood)

Do you remember Nayim? He played in the final

With reference to time (time to be established)

Do you remember Nayim? He played in the 1995 final

  • talk about habitual events or states in the past

The  Past Simple is used to talk about completed or finished actions or  states in the past. These can be both single or habitual actions or  states.


Events that happened once

He scored the winning goal in stoppage time

Events that happened more than once

He played for Real Zaragoza


He was a Tottenham Hotspure player

When we use the Past Simple to talk about habitual events in the past it is similar to used to in meaning

  • The Past Simple can be used to express the order of events in a narrative

The Past Simple is used to talk about events that happened in sequence. The order of the verbs reflects the order of the actions

Event 1 went to training

Event 2 had lunch

He went to training and had lunch

Event 1 had lunch

Event 2 went to training

He had lunch and went to training

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Related topics

For fundamental functions of the Past Simple click here

Irregular verbs click here

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