English Grammar: Simple Past Tense

During our English speaking courses, many people question the importance of grammar in spoken English, while some fervently support it. I guess this question can be reserved for other times. Today we are going to take a look at Simple present tense and its applications in spoken English.

Simple past tense is a basic tense, in general, used to talk about what happened in past.

Verb

In simple past tense, the second form of a verb is used. In cases of regular verbs –ed is added at the end. You need to pay attention in using the right form in case of irregular verbs. For example, the second form of the verb for sleep is ‘slept’. In case, if you are using an auxiliary verb, past form is transferred from the main verb to auxiliary as follows.

Make a statement

A statement in simple past tense is constructed in following ways.

Subject

Auxiliary Verb

Main Verb

Object

I, you, we, they

liked

coffee

He, she, it

liked

coffee

I, you , we, they

did

not

like

coffee

He, she, it

did

not

like

coffee

Structure for a positive statement in general can be:

Subject + second form of Verb + Object

(positive statement)

Subject + Auxiliary Verb + not + first form of Main Verb + Object

(negative statement)

Ask a question

While forming an interrogative sentence, auxiliary verb precedes subject in general. The following can be used of simple past tense in interrogative sentences.

Auxiliary Verb

Subject

Main Verb

Object

Did

I, you, we, they

like

coffee?

Did

He, she, it

like

coffee?

Did

not

I, you, we, they

like

coffee?

Did

not

He, she, it

like

coffee?

In general structure of interrogative sentence can be

Auxiliary verb + Subject + first form of Main verb + Object ?

(positive question)

Auxiliary verb + not + Subject + first form of Main verb + Object ?

(negative question)

Applications of Simple past tense

There are many applications of simple past tense. Following is a list of the applications in general.

1. Talk about an action that started and finished at a specific time in the past.

Your activities of the past, which started at a specific time in the day and ended at a specific time, must be described in Simple past tense. Following are examples

We saw a movie in city pride yesterday.

I talked to my friends on the cell phone.

She didn’t attend the speaking class.

He didn’t wash the car.

2.     List series of actions

Your series of actions that happened in a particular attempt or trip or endeavor, must be described in Simple past tense.

I finished the office work, caught the bus & came back to the home.

She put on the track suit and went for jogging.

The maid cleaned the utensils, washed the clothes and cooked the food.

Did you affix the post stamps & post the letter?

3.     Narrating duration

While narrating about the duration you spent doing something can be described in simple past tense.

I lived in Pune for about ten years

She studied German in just six months.

The maid didn’t turn up on Sunday.

He worked with Infosys for 4 years.

4.     Talk about habits of the past

You can discuss habits of the past using simple past tense

I always participated in the school gathering.

She often played guitar in the party.

He never played any sport in the school life.

Did you ever study sincerely in your childhood?