DEFINITION OF THE SIMPLE PAST TENSE
The simple past tens is used to talk about a completed action in a time before now. The simple past is the basic form of past tense in English. The time of the action can be in the recent past or the distant past and action duration is not important.
It was sunny.
She was late .
We were on holiday.
They were hungry.
You always use the simple past when you say when something happened, so it is associated with certain past time expressions
Frequency: often, sometimes, and always
I sometimes walked home at lunchtime.
I often brought my lunch to school.
A definite point in time: last week, when I was a child, yesterday, six weeks ago
We saw a good film last week.
Yesterday, I arrived in Geneva.
She finished her work at seven o’clock.
I went to the theater last night.
An indefinite point in time: the other day, ages ago, a long time ago People lived in caves a long time ago.
Note: the word ago is a useful way of expressing the distance into the past. It is placed after the period of time: a week ago, three years ago, a minute ago.
Be Careful: The simple past in English may look like a tense in your own language, but the meaning may be different.
FORMING THE SIMPLE PAST TENSE
PATTERNS OF SIMPLE PAST TENSE FOR REGULAR VERBS
Subject + verb + ed
Example: I skipped.
Subject + did not + infinitive without to
Example: They didn’t go.
Did + subject + infinitive without to
Example: Did she arrive?
Did not + subject + infinitive without to
Example: Didn’t you play?
Here’s how to make the positive:
I was cold.
You were tired .
He was in the garden.
She was late
To make the negative with ‘be’, just add ‘not’:
She was not beautiful.
She wasn’t beautiful.
They were not tired.
Here are the past simple ‘yes / no’ questions with ‘be’:
Was he at the cinema?
Was she kind?
Was it hot?
To make a ‘wh’ question, of course, put the question word at the beginning of the sentence:
When did it rain?
Where did we eat?
How did they travel?
NOTES ON AFFIRMATIVE, NEGATIVE, & INTERROGATIVE FORMS
The affirmative of the simple past tense is simple.
NEGATIVE AND INTERROGATIVE
For the negative and interrogative simple past form of “do” as an ordinary verb, use the auxiliary “do”, e.g. we didn’t do our homework last night.
The negative of “have” in the simple past is usually formed using the auxiliary “do”, but sometimes by simply adding not or the contraction “n’t”.
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