5 Simple Past

Simple Past

Annapurna Madhuri


Any action or an event that took place and is completed in a time much before the time of speaking is expressed in simple past tense.

Simple past tense form of a verb: 

Adding ‘d’/’ed’/’t’ to the base verb

 The structure of the sentence:

Affirmative sentences:-

Subject + past tense form of base verb + object

Example: I finished my work.

Interrogative sentences:-

Auxillary verb + subject + main verb + object

DId/do + subject +  main verb + object

Example: Did you finish your work? 

Incorrect: Did you finished your work?

Negative sentences:-

Subject + auxillary verb + NOT – main verb + object

Subject + did/do NOT + participle form of main verb + main verb + object

Example: I did not finish my work.

Incorrect: I did not finished my work.

Exercise: Previous knowledge check:

Learning Objectives

At the end of this chapter, all learners will be able to

  1. Use past tense form of the verb to show actions happened a long time ago.
  2. Know the sentence structures in each of the forms of sentences.
  3. Construct sentences in past tense in affirmative, interrogative and negative forms.

Quick Read:

 The King and the spider:

Once upon a time, there was a wise, brave king.  He was a kind ruler.  He  won many battles too.  People in his kingdom were happy and prosperous.

A neighbouring king, wanted to capture this peaceful and prosperous kingdom.  He attacked this country. Unfortunately, the king lost the battle.  Many soldiers were wounded and killed, many others ran away to save their lives.  The king himself hid in a cave.  He was angry and sad.

As he was sitting in the cave, he saw a spider going up the wall of the cave.  As it was climbing, it slipped and fell down.  It tried again and fell down again.

The king saw this and thought, “This little spider is trying so hard to climb up the wall, will it succeed?”

The spider did not give up.  It continued to climb the wall and falling many times.  Finally the spider was able to climb the wall.

Seeing this, the king thought, “If a small spider can succeed by trying again and again, I can defeat my enemies.”

The king regained his confidence.  He united all his soldiers and attacked the enemy.  The war went on for several days.  At last he defeated the enemy.

Moral of the story: Try and try till you succeed.

The story given above tells us about an event that happened in the distant past, very long ago (time unknown/indefinite).  Hence it is expressed in simple past tense.

The verbs won, wanted, attacked, lost, wounded, killed, ran, hid, saw, slipped, fell, thought, continued, regained, united, defeated all are verbs used in simple past tense.  They tell us that these actions happened some time in the past.

Simple past tense form of a verb is formed:

  1. By adding ‘d’/’ed’/’t’ to the base verb (in case of regular verbs)

grant – granted

arrive – arrived

pull – pulled

play – played

push – pushed

wish – wished

build – built

learn – learnt

2. In some cases the spelling changes

wrap – wrapped

pat – patted

hurry – hurried

reply – replied

3. By changing the body of the base verb (in case of irregular verbs)

bear – bore

become – became

eat – ate

get – got

fall – fell

bite – bit

4. There is no change in the base verb

cut – cut

put – put

wed – wed

read – read

Exercise: Use past tense form of the verbs


Let’s now understand the situations in which simple past tense is used

Singal Words for simple past tense:

  1. A definite time in the past: last year, last week, last evening, last night, yesterday
  2. Indefinite/unspecified time in the past: the other day, long ago, few days ago, some time ago, once upon a time
  3. Frequency: often, sometimes, always.

Exercise: Fill in the blanks using the correct form of verbs, taking hint from the signal words:

  • Interrogative sentences in past tense:

In the interrogative/question form of sentences in past tense, we use the main verb as it is.

Krishna watched a movie yesterday.

Interrogative form: Did Krishna watch a movie yesterday?

Note that watched (past tense form) changes to watch (main verb) in the interrogative/question form.  The sentence ends with a question tag (?)

Exercise: Rewrite the sentences in interrogative form:

  •  Negative sentence structure in past tense.

In negative form of sentences in the past tense, we use the main verb and not the past tense form of verb 

Example: Krishna watched a movie last night.

Negative form: Krishna did not watch a movie last night.

Note that watched in (past tense form) changes to watch (main verb) in  negative sentence.

Exercise: Rewrite the sentences in negative form:

Exercises – Self check:

  • Change the sentences into past tense:
  • Rewrite the words in proper order to make a proper sentence.



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https://doi.org/Effective English for Teachers

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