The Past Simple Tense

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The Past Simple tense

The Past Simple Tense


We also call the Past Simple Tense as ‘preterite tense’. We can make use of several tenses and forms tp speak about the past. We make use of the Past Simple Tense more often.


  1. Positive sentence: Subject+Main verb(past participle)
  2. Negative sentence: Subject+ auxiliary do (combined in past simple as ‘did’) + main verb


subjectAuxiliary verbMain verb
For positive sentenceIreadThe book.
YouFinished Your work.
For negative sentenceShedidnotPlay Very well.
For question sentenceDidyoueatgood?
DidtheyWork  hard?

From the given table above, notice that positive sentences are not having an auxiliary verb. We combine the main verb in the past simple, not variable: ‘ed’

For the negative sentence, we combine the auxiliary in the past simple, invariable: did

  • The main verb is not variable in base form
  • For the negative sentences, we out the word ‘not’ in between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.
  • For the question sentences, we exchange the subject as well as the auxiliary verb.

In the case of positive sentences, we do not use the auxiliary ‘did’. However, we can use it if we want to bring focus on something, or if we want to add something, contract something.

Let us look at the Past simple tense with the main verb ‘be’,
– Subject along with the main verb ‘be’ will be combined in the past simple: was, were

Here are some examples,

subjectThe main verb ‘be’
For positive sentenceI/he/she/itwasthere.
You, we, theywereIn America.
For negative sentenceI,he/she/itwasnothere.
You, we, theywerenotsad.
For question sentenceWasI,he/she/itlate?
WereYou, we, theywrong?

Notice from the given table that we are not using auxiliary verbs even for questions and negatives.

  • We combine the main verb in the past simple: was,were
  • We put the word ‘not’ after the main verb in negative sentences.
  • We exchange the subject and the main verb in question sentences.

We use the Past simple tense to speak about a situation which took place in the past.

For example,

  • She went to shop in the mall.
  • We did not hear the song.
  • I did not watch that movie.
  • Did you see the truck?

We can use the Simple Past Tense when the event has took place in the past or when it is totally over. Note that we use the simple past tense when telling a story.

Quiz on Past Simple Tense