The Simple Past Tense

Form: Verb + -ed  –  Irregular Verbs


  • I walk – I walked
  • He walks – He walked
  • I am – I was
  • You are – You were

– Use it to express the idea that an action began and ended at a specific time in the past.

– The speaker may not specify the exact time, although they have a specific time in mind.


  • She watched a film last night.
  • She didn’t watch a film last night.
  • Last year, I went to France.
  • Last year, I didn’t go to France.
  • You had breakst this morning.
  • Did you have breakfast this morning?
  • They woke up.
  • They didn’t wake up.

– Use it to list a series of completed actions in the past.

– These actions happaned in the order they are mentioned, i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.


  • I finished work, went to the beach, came home, and then made dinner.
  • He caught the bus at 6am, arrived to work at 10am, finished at 5pm, and then got home at 7pm.
  • Did you beat the eggs, add the flour, pour the milk into the mix, and then stir it?

– Use it to talk about a duration that starts and stops in the past.

– A duration is a longer action, which is often indicated by expressions like: for two years, for five months, for a few days, all day, all year, etc.


  • I lived in Japan for three years.
  • She studied at university for a few hours.
  • They didn’t stay at the party all night.
  • We talked on the phone for 30 minutes.
  • How long did you wait outside?
  • We watched him for a long time.

– Use it to describe a habit, which stopped in the past.

– It can mean the same as “used to”.

– To make it clear that you’re talking about a habit, you can add expressions like: always, often, usually, never, when I was younger, when I was a child, etc.


  • I studied French in high school.
  • She played piano when she was younger.
  • They didn’t play violin as kids.
  • Did you play a musical instrument as a teenager?
  • He worked in a café each day after uni.
  • They never liked going to school, and always skipped class.

– Use it to describe past facts or generlisations that are no longer true.

– It can mean the same as “used to”.


  • She was introverted as a kid, but now she’s really extroverted.
  • We didn’t like beer until more recently.
  • Did you live in Queensland when you were young?
  • People paid much more to use phones in the past.
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