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Grammar Books

The simple past tense is used to talk about finished actions that happened at a specific time in the past. You state when it happened using a time adverb.

You form the simple past of a verb by adding -ed onto the end of a regular verb but, irregular verb forms have to be learnt. There are several examples of irregular verbs in our Picture It section.

To be
Statements
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To be
Statements
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Questions ?
I was. I wasn't. Was I?
He was. He wasn't. Was he?
She was. She wasn't. Was she?
It was. It wasn't. Was it?
You were. You weren't. Were you?
We were. We weren't. Were we?
They were. They weren't. Were they?
Regular Verb (to work) Statements
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Regular Verb (to work) Statements
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Questions Short answer
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Short answer
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I worked. I didn't work. Did I work? Yes, I did. No, I didn't.
He worked. He didn't work. Did he work? Yes, he did. No, he didn't.
She worked. She didn't work. Did she work? Yes, she did. No, she didn't.
It worked. It didn't work. Did it work? Yes, it did. No, it didn't.
You worked. You didn't work. Did you work? Yes you did. No, you didn't.
We worked. We didn't work. Did we work? Yes we did. No, we didn't.
They worked. They didn't work. Did they work? Yes they did. No, they didn't.

 

Simple Past Timeline

Simple past tense timeline

When you mention a time in the past:-

For example:

"Last year I took my exams."

"I got married in 1992."

It can be used to describe events that happened over a period of time in the past but not now.

For example:

"I lived in South Africa for two years."

The simple past tense is also used to talk about habitual or repeated actions that took place in the past.

For example:

"When I was a child we always went to the seaside on bank holidays."

It can sometimes be confusing.

For example:

"She had a baby last year." (She hasn't lost the baby, but here you are talking about the actual process of giving birth.)

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