Simple past rules and examples

  Simple past

Simple past rules

The Simple past describes a completed action in a time before now and things that happen one after another in the past. Note that the simple past form is the same for all persons.

Examples: Simple Past

First Bob read a book, then he went to bed yesterday night.
Last week I came to a church and then I took the road right.

Actions at a specific time

Simple Past: Actions that happened at a specific time in the past.

Examples simple past tense:

I got a present yesterday. I had in great time in America last year.

Simple past regular verbs

Add -ed to the regular verb. look - looked, watch - watched,
Some verbs you need to change a bit.

Verb ending in... Add ... Examplee
-e only add - d live - lived
date - dated
Consonant +y Change y to i an add -ed carry - carried
cry - cried
1 vowel + 1 consonant Double consonant and
add -ed
stop - stopped

Simple Past regular verbs - examples

Add -ed to the regular verb.

cook - cooked, play - played, wash - washed

-e at the end of the verb: only add -d.

love - loved, live - lived, close - closed, live - lived

Simple past irregular (not regular) verbs

Some verbs are not regular. They are irregular. You should learn them by heart!

Example: Simple Past tense - irregular verbs: 

begin - began
break - broke
come - came
drink - drank

fall - fell
forget - forgot
get -  got
speak - spoke

To be - Simple past

Example: Simple Past tense - irregular verbs:  to be

Simple present
I am
you are
he/she/it is
we are
you are
they are

Simple past
I was
you were
he/she/it was
we were
you were
they were

Simple past signal words

Use the simple past when you say when something happened. See the following signal words:

frequency: often, sometimes, always
We sometimes had no school.

a definite point in time: last week, when I was a child, yesterday, six weeks ago
They were in London last week.

an indefinite point in time: the other day, ages ago, a long time ago
He learned English when he was young.

More simple past signal words: ago, in 2011, in 1999, ... last month, last week, last year, yesterday.

Examples: Simple Past signal words

I ate oranges last year.
We went to school eyery day in 1999.
He took his dog for a walk a month ago.

Simple past - questions

To form a question: 'did' + subject + infinitive.

Examples: questions Simple Past


I ate oranges in 2011. Did I eat oranges in 2011?
We went to school last week. Did we go to school last week?
He took his dog for a walk yesterday. Did he take his dog for a walk yesterday?

Questions with was/were

Sentences with 'to be' (was/were). Questions with was/were.

She was in London. Was she in London?
They were at the station. Were they at the station?

Simple past negative

Negative sentences simple past: examples short form

I knew Covent Garden?   I didn't know Covent Garden.
We went to school eyery day.  We didn't go to school every day.
He took his dog for a walk.  He didn't take his dog for a walk.

Questions with wasn't/weren't

Negative sentences with wasn't/weren't. Long form, short form.

She was not in Los Angeles. She wasn't in Los Angeles.
They were not at the station. They weren't at the station.

Simple past examples

▶ 18 more exercises simple past with free online exercises. Simple past examples and sentences. Online exercises  Simple past, questions and simple past negative sentences.

Free tutorial  simple past. English simple past exercises. English grammar easy to learn.   Simple past matching exercises, quizzes.