Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|11. Past Simple

The Past Simple Tense

(also called the Simple Past Tense)

This is the basic past tense. We use it whenever we want to talk about the past and we don’t have any special situation that means we should use the past perfect, present perfect or past continuous.

Finished actions, states or habits in the past.

1: We use it with finished actions, states or habits in the past when we have a finished time word (yesterday, last week, at 2 o’clock, in 2003).

  • I went to the cinema yesterday.
  • We spent a lot of time in Japan in 2007.

2: We use it with finished actions, states or habits in the past when we know from general knowledge that the time period has finished. This includes when the person we are talking about is dead.

  • Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa.
  • The Vikings invaded Britain.

3: We use it with finished actions, states or habits in the past that we have introduced with the present perfect or another tense. This is sometimes called ‘details of news’.

  • I’ve hurt my leg. I fell off a ladder when I was painting my bedroom.
  • I’ve been on holiday. I went to Spain and Portugal.

4: For stories or lists of events, we often use the past simple for the actions in the story and the past continuous for the background.

  • He went to a café. People were chatting and music was playing. He sat down and ordered a coffee.

Unreal or imaginary things in the present or future.

5: We use the past simple to talk about things that are not real in the present or future. So we use it with the second conditional and after words like ‘wish’.

  • If I won the lottery, I would buy a house.
  • I wish I had more time!

It’s similar to the present simple because it has different rules for the verb ‘be’, which becomes ‘was’ or ‘were’:

The Past Simple with ‘be’

Positive with ‘be’ Negative with ‘be’ Negative Short Form
I was cold I was not sleepy I wasn’t sleepy
You were tired You were not on the bus You weren’t on the bus
He was in the garden He was not at school He wasn’t at school
She was late She was not beautiful She wasn’t beautiful
It was sunny It was not cold It wasn’t cold
We were on holiday We were not at work We weren’t at work
They were hungry They were not tired They weren’t tired

To make a question, just like the present simple, we change the position of ‘was / were’ and the subject.

‘Yes / No’ Questions with ‘be’ ‘Wh’ Questions with ‘be’
Was I sleepy? Why was I sleepy?
Were you late? Where were you?
Was he at the cinema? When was he at the cinema?
Was she kind? How was she?
Was it hot? How was it?
Were we hungry? Why were we hungry?
Were they at work? When were they at work?

The Past Simple (Simple Past) with Other Verbs

We make the past simple just like the present simple except we use ‘did’ instead of ‘do / does’. It’s really easy because ‘did’ doesn’t change, even with ‘he / she / it‘.

The positive:

We usually make the positive by adding ‘-ed’ to the infinitive. For example, ‘play’ becomes ‘played’. However, there are some irregular verbs, for example ‘go’ becomes ‘went’ and ‘run’ becomes ‘ran’.

The negative:

In the negative there aren’t any irregular verbs. All verbs use did not (didn’t) + infinitive‘. In the negative there aren’t any irregular verbs. All verbs use ‘did not (didn’t) + infinitive‘.

Positive with other verbs Negative Negative short forms
I walked (regular) I did not walk I didn’t walk
You played (regular) You did not play You didn’t play
He cooked (regular) He did not cook He didn’t cook
She listened (regular) She did not listen She didn’t listen
It rained (regular) It did not rain It didn’t rain
We ate (irregular) We did not eat We didn’t eat
They drank (irregular) They did not drink They didn’t drink

Questions are also very easy. Just put ‘did’ before the subject, and the infinitive after it. To make a ‘wh’ question, of course, put the question word at the beginning of the sentence.

‘Yes / No’ Questions ‘Wh’ Questions
Did I walk? Where did you go?
Did you play? What did you play?
Did he cook? What did he cook?
Did she listen? Why did she listen?
Did it rain? When did it rain?
Did we eat? Where did we eat?
Did they drink? How did they travel?

Choose the correct option


Type the correct answer

Correct the mistakes

Choose the correct option

Write the correct form


If you open the lesson plan you will be able to assign separate pages as homework or all the homework pages at once.

Урок Homework Курс
  • Rules: Past Simple
  • Type the correct answer
  • Correct the mistakes
  • Choose the correct option
  • Write the correct form
  • Homework
  1. 1. Introductory lessons|Welcome! Your Personal Track
  2. 2. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|1. Present Tense. To be. Positive
  3. 3. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|2. Present. To be. Negative
  4. 4. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|3. Present Tense. To be. Questions
  5. 5. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|4. Possessive Determiners
  6. 6. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|5. Articles
  7. 7. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|6. Present Simple. All Verbs. Positive
  8. 8. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|7. Present Simple. All Verbs. Negative
  9. 9. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|8. Present Simple. Questions
  10. 10. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|9. Possessive's
  11. 11. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|10. Telling the time
  12. 12. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|11. Adverbs of frequency
  13. 13. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|12. Can/can't
  14. 14. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|13. Like doing
  15. 15. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|14. Object pronouns
  16. 16. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|15. Possessive pronouns
  17. 17. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|16. Past Simple (To be)
  18. 18. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|17. Past Simple: regular verbs
  19. 19. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|18. Past Simple: irregular verbs
  20. 20. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|19. There is/There are
  21. 21. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|20. There was/There were
  22. 22. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|21. Present Continuous
  23. 23. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|22. Present Simple, Present Continuous
  24. 24. Adults|Grammar|Elementary| 23. Countable / uncountable nouns
  25. 25. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|24. Quantifiers
  26. 26. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|25. Be going to (plans)
  27. 27. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|26. Be going to (predictions)
  28. 28. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|27. Comparative Adjectives
  29. 29. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|28. Superlative Adjectives
  30. 30. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|29. Adverbs
  31. 31. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|30. Present Perfect
  32. 32. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|31. Irregular Verbs
  33. 33. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|32. Prepositions
  34. 34. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|33. Am/is/are — questions
  35. 35. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|34. I am doing
  36. 36. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|35. Are you doing?
  37. 37. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|36. I do/work/like etc.
  38. 38. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|37. I don't...
  39. 39. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|38. Do you...
  40. 40. Adults|Grammar|Elementary|39. Am/is/are
  41. 41. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|1. First Conditional
  42. 42. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|2. Second Conditional
  43. 43. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|3. First & Second Conditional
  44. 44. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|7. Pr Perfect vs Past Simple
  45. 45. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|8. Used to or Didn't use to
  46. 46. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|9. To be + Past participle
  47. 47. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|10. Defining Relative Clauses
  48. 48. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|11. Past Simple
  49. 49. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|12. Past Continuous
  50. 50. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|13. Questions and Auxiliaries
  51. 51. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|14. Conjunctions
  52. 52. Adults|Grammar|Pre-Intermediate|15. Going to