Past Simple

Past simple


(regular verbs)   

-ed      work – worked, invite – invited, study – studied


(irregular verbs)

write – wrote, see – saw, go – went



Did you enjoy…?





With to do:

What did you do? I didn’t do anything.


The past of to be

I was                   We were                               Neg.    wasn’t  weren’t

You were            You were

She/he/it was     They were



USE 1 Completed Action in the Past

Use the Simple Past to express the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, the speaker may not actually mention the specific time, but they do have one specific time in mind

·       I saw a movie yesterday.

·       I didn't see a play yesterday.

·       Last year, I travelled to Japan.

·       Last year, I didn't travel to Korea.

·       Did you have dinner last night?

·       She washed her car.

·       He didn't wash his car.

USE 2 A Series of Completed Actions

We use the Simple Past to list a series of completed actions in the past. These actions happen 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on.

·       I finished work, walked to the beach, and found a nice place to swim.

·       He arrived from the airport at 8:00, checked into the hotel at 9:00, and met the others at 10:00.

·       Did you add flour, pour in the milk, and then add the eggs?

USE 3 Duration in Past

The Simple Past can be used with a duration which starts and stops in the past. A duration is a longer action often indicated by expressions such as: for two years, for five minutes, all day, all year, etc.

·       I lived in Brazil for two years.

·       Shauna studied Japanese for five years.

·       They sat at the beach all day.

·       They did not stay at the party the entire time.

·       We talked on the phone for thirty minutes.

·       A: How long did you wait for them?
B: We waited for one hour.

USE 4 Habits in the Past

The Simple Past can also be used to describe a habit which stopped in the past. It can have the same meaning as "used to." To make it clear that we are talking about a habit, we often add expressions such as: always, often, usually, never, when I was a child, when I was younger, etc.

·       I studied French when I was a child.

·       He played the violin.

·       He didn't play the piano.

·       Did you play a musical instrument when you were a kid?

·       She worked at the movie theatre after school.

·       They never went to school, they always skipped class.

USE 5 Past Facts or Generalizations

The Simple Past can also be used to describe past facts or generalizations that are no longer true. As in USE 4 above, this use of the Simple Past is quite similar to the expression "used to."

  • She was shy as a child, but now she is very outgoing.
  • He didn't like tomatoes before.
  • Did you live in Texas when you were a kid?
People paid much more to make cell phone calls in the past.