Past Simple

Past Simple Grammar Guide


Regular verbs:   Subject + Verb (-ed) + Object

Irregular verbs: Subject + Verb (past form) + Object

The past simple in English uses one form for all persons (with the unique exception of to be). 


Did not (Didn't) + INF


Did + subj + INF....?

I went home late

He didn't like school

Did they enjoy their holiday?




We use the Past Simple to:

  • talk about completed or finished events

On a fundamental level, if an action is completed or finished then we use the past simple to talk about it.

I ate lunch at home yesterday

I wanted to be a journalist when I was younger

He played cricket in the 1990's

Further topics

Differences between Past Simple and Past Continuous here

Further Functions for the Past Simple can be found here

Irregular verbs click here


Verbs in the past do not take a new form in negative or question structures, we use the auxiliary verb (to do) to indicate past. The specific exception is to be, which is used without an auxiliary

to be

I                    WAS     (WAS NOT/WASN'T)

You              WERE   (WERE NOT/WEREN'T)

He/She/It     WAS     (WAS NOT/WASN'T)

We              WERE   (WERE NOT/WEREN'T)

You             WERE   (WERE NOT/WEREN'T)

They           WERE   (WERE NOT/WEREN'T)

to do

I                        DID     (DID NOT/DIDN'T)

You                   DID     (DID NOT/DIDN'T)

He/She/It        DID     (DID NOT/DIDN'T)

We                    DID     (DID NOT/DIDN'T)

You                   DID     (DID NOT/DIDN'T)

They                 DID     (DID NOT/DIDN'T)

Spelling notes

Regular verbs in the past have only two spelling rules that create exceptions to the INFINITIVE + ed structure. If the verb is a single syllable single vowel followed by a consonant, we simply double the consonant as well as adding the -ed

Secondly, if the INFINITIVE ends in a consonant + y we change the -y for an -i  before the -ed

Irregular verbs behave differently and you can find more information about them here


Regular verbs in the pas have three pronunciation patterns that are about sound, not spelling.


after vowel sounds our pronunciation is a straight d sound

play - played

cry - cried

live - lived

smile - smiled


after d and t sounds we voice id

wait - waited

start - started

want - wanted

decide - decided


after all other sounds we voice a straight t

ask - asked

watch - watched

laugh - laughed

push - pushed

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