Past simple

With most verbs, the past tense is formed by adding –ed:


called liked wanted worked


But there are a lot of irregular past tense forms in English. Here are the most common irregular verbs in English, with their past tense forms:



We use the past tense to talk about:

  • something that happened once in the past:

I met my wife in 1983. We went to Spain for our holidays. They got home very late last night.

  • something that happened several times in the past:

When I was a boy, I walked a mile to school every day. We swam a lot while we were on holiday. They always enjoyed visiting their friends.

  • something that was true for some time in the past:

I lived abroad for ten years. He enjoyed being a student. She played a lot of tennis when she was younger.

  • we often use expressions with ago with the past simple:

I met my wife a long time ago.

Past simple questions and negatives


We use did to make questions with the past simple:

Did she play tennis when she was younger? Did you live abroad? When did you meet your wife? Where did you go for your holidays?

But questions with who often don't use did:

Who discovered penicillin? Who wrote Don Quixote?


We use didn't (did not) to make negatives with the past simple:

They didn't go to Spain this year. We didn't get home until very late last night. I didn't see you yesterday.


Past simple and hypotheses

We can also use the past simple to refer to the present or future in hypotheses (when we imagine something.




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