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Past Indefinite (Simple) Tense

The affirmative past simple tense:

It is the second form/ conjugation of the verb and it is the same with all pronouns.

For example:

We played football yesterday.

She played football yesterday.

I played football yesterday.

 

However, there are two types of verbs: regular and irregular.

First, how to get the second form of the regular verbs:

We get the second form of the regular verbs by adding (-ed) to the verb ending.

For example:

  • start: started
  • watch: watched
  • wash: washed

If the verb ends with (-e), we add (-d) only.

For example:

  • estimate: estimated
  • smile: smiled

If the verb ends with (-y), there are 2 cases:

  1. If the (-y) is preceded by a vowel as in (play), we add (-ed) as known.
  • play: played
  • stay: stayed
  1. If the If the (-y) is preceded by a consonant as in (cry), we replace the (-y) with (-ied).

For example:

  • cry: cried
  • fry: fried

 

Second, how to get the second form of the irregular verbs:

There is no rule for getting the second form of the irregular verbs, so mainly we have to memorize them. In this pattern, there are 2 kinds of irregular verbs:

1. Irregular verbs with identical first and second form.

For example:

  • shut: shut
  • cut: cut

2. Irregular verbs with different first and second form.

For example:

  • write: wrote
  • take: took
  • eat: ate
  • see: saw
  • go: went

 

Note: there are 3 important verbs that you need to memorize as you are most likely need them:

to be:

  • I am: I was
  • He, she, it is: He, she, it was
  • We, you, they are: We, you, they were

to have:

  • Have: had

to do:

  • Do: did

By applying the past rules, we can make sentences using the past simple tense as follows:

  • I wrote a book last year.
  • My mother cleaned the house last week.
  • The teacher gave me homework 3 days ago.
  • The carpenter cut this tree yesterday.
  • The dog had a sausage for lunch.
  • I was tired till I took the medicine.
  • You were at the party, I saw you.

 

The negative past simple tense:

We construct the negative form of the past simple tense as follows:

The subject + did not + infinitive

For example:

1. The teacher gave me homework 3 days ago.

Negative: the teacher did not give me homework 3 days ago.

2. The carpenter cut this tree yesterday.

Negative: The carpenter did not cut this tree yesterday.

3. The dog had a sausage for lunch.

Negative: The dog did not have a sausage for lunch.

However, there is an exception to this rule and it is the verb (to be), we get the negative form of it by adding (not) after the past form of it.

For example:

  • I was not tired yesterday.
  • You were not at the party last week.

 

The interrogative past simple tense:

How to make questions using the past simple tense:

Did + the subject + infinitiveā€¦?

For example:

Question: Did you take your exam last week?

Answer: Yes, I did/ No, I did not.

However, there is an exception to this rule and it is the verb (to be), we get the interrogative form of it by adding (not) after the past form of it.

For example:

Question: Were you tired yesterday?

Answer: Yes, I was/ No, I was not.

Question: Were they at the party last week?

Answer: Yes, they were/ No, they were not.

Note: when constructing questions with question words, we add the question word before the last formulae as in:

Question: Where did you go last week?

Answer: last week, I went to the park.

 

When to use the past simple tense?

Words that express the past simple tense:

1. To describe an action that started and finished in the past and it is used with words such as:

yesterday, ago, in the past, in the ancient times,

in 2000 (as an instance), last (hour, day, week, month, etc.)

For example:

We went to the park last week.

2. To describe actions that follow each other in a story.

For example:

The king loved his daughter and gave her a crown.

3. To express habits in the past.

For example:

When I was 10 years old, I used to cry before exams.

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