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Past (simple)

MORE: Past Simple

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Simple Past: How to form it with a regular verb
A simple chart
A very clear explanation
A more in-depth explanation
Simple Past Tense: Explanation, Common Problems, Exercises
A simple description with exercises (you need a paper and pencil)
It happened in the past (and now it's over.)

We use the past tense of verbs and verb phrases to talk about actions that happened in the past and are now completed. We can talk about one action, or a series of actions, or how long an action went on (duration.)
  • She broke her leg. (one action)
  • He worked at the supermarket for 3 years. (duration)
  • I played football every Sunday. (a series of actions).
Regular and Irregular verbs
To form the past tense, you have to know if a verb is regular or irregular. Regular verbs are easier, because they all end in -ed. Irregular verbs are more difficult, because they may be completely different words. You have to memorize the irregular verbs. 

For more information see the links on the Verbs: Take action! page.

Past-time expressions
We often use past-time expressions with past tense of verbs.

  • Yesterday, I washed my car.
  • She went to the dentist this morning.
  • They left a few minutes ago.
  • Last year, we traveled to Spain.

Past time expressions: Yesterday, day before yesterday, last night, last week, last month, last year, last Tuesday, Sunday morning, Wednesday afternoon, Thursday night, a few minutes ago, an hour ago, three days ago, two weeks ago, six months ago, five years ago

Sequence expressions
We often use sequence expressions when we talk about the past. Sequence words are usually adverb words or phrases. they tell us when something happened relative to another thing that happened.

Examples: First, second, third, next, before then, after that, finally


1. Click this link and watch the video about the Simple Past Tense by Jennifer ESL on YouTube: (it will open a new web page)

2. After you watch the video, click this link:

3. Take the quiz! Type the correct spelling of the past tense for the regular verbs into the blanks. Complete all the answers.

4.  After you type answers to all the questions, click Check to see the answers. In your notebook, write down the words you got wrong. If you want to, you can click Repeat Exercise and take the quiz again.

5. To do a similar exercise that includes some irregular verbs, click this link: