Free Online English Lessons 04: The Past Simple Tense

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The past simple tense is used to talk about actions or events that happened at a specific time in the past. In English, regular past simple verbs are formed by adding “-ed” to the base form of the verb (e.g. walk – walked, talk – talked), but irregular verbs have unique past simple forms (e.g. go – went, see – saw). Here are the basic rules for using the past simple tense:

Regular Verbs: Add “-ed” to the base form of the verb to create the past simple form. For example:

I walked to the store yesterday.

She talked to her friend on the phone for an hour.

Irregular Verbs: These verbs have unique past simple forms that do not follow the “-ed” rule. For example:

I went to the beach last weekend.

They saw a movie last night.

Time Expressions: Use time expressions to show when the past event happened. Common time expressions for the past simple tense include: yesterday, last week, last night, last month, etc. For example:

I saw that movie last night.

She traveled to Europe last summer.

Negative Sentences: To make a negative sentence in the past simple tense, add “did not” (or the contracted form “didn’t”) before the base form of the verb. For example:

I did not study for the exam last night.

They didn’t go to the party on Saturday.

Yes/No Questions: To ask a yes/no question in the past simple tense, invert the subject and the auxiliary verb “did”. For example:

Did you watch the game last night?

Did she call you yesterday?

Practice Exercise:

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate form of the verb in the past simple tense:

I ____________ (go) to the gym yesterday.

He ____________ (cook) dinner for his friends last night.

We ____________ (study) for the exam all weekend.

They ____________ (play) basketball at the park yesterday.

Did you ____________ (watch) the movie last night?


Sure, here are some additional past simple questions that you can use to practice the past simple tense:

Where did you go on vacation last summer?

Did you study abroad during college?

When did you start learning English?

What did you have for breakfast yesterday?

Did you watch the news this morning?

When was the last time you went to the beach?

What did you do last weekend?

Did you take any language classes in high school?

When did you move to this city?

Did you play any sports in high school?

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