Basics of Past Simple Tense for Beginners

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Basics and Rules of Using Past Simple Tense:

Past Simple Tense is used to describe an event that began and ended in the past, like winking, the act of blinking your eyelids to convey an emotion. To put “wink” in Past Simple Tense, we simply change it to “winked.”

This is true for all Regular Verbs. Regular Verbs in the past tense get d/ed at the end. For example, “hug” turns to “hugged.” But, Nouns don’t change with tense. 

In fact, to detect a Past Simple Tense sentence, merely look for the Main Verb. Most often, for those sentences that Regular Verbs are used, d/ed is found hidden among other grammatical features. 

Qi Winked at Me

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A Narrative

How is Past Simple Tense used in conversation?

“We were sitting at our friend’s house when Qi winked at me. I knew it was time to go,” said Arun. 

“How did you know it was time to go, ”asked Avinash.

“Everybody knows that a wink is an encoded message.”

In this dialogue, several Past Simple Tense Verbs are used: 

  • Winked
  • Knew 
  • Asked

A Bit of Grammar

What are the rules for using Past Simple Tense in a full sentence?

Constructing a Past Simple Tense Sentence is easy. It follows this pattern:

Subject + Verb + d/ed

In our dialogue, “Qi winked.” Because of the ed, we know that the action began and ended in the past. However, to make it a negative, we could’ve used this sentence:

“We were sitting at our friend’s house but Qi didn’t wink. I knew she was happy to have tea with our old friends.” 

In this case, Qi didn’t give the signal to leave. This was constructed with: 

Subject + did not + bare infinitive

The bare infinitive is the plain version of the Verb.

Examples of Past Simple Tense

  • The Principal talked to my parents about my performance.
  • Maria did not want to buy a new phone but her sister convinced her to. 
  • Teddy did not create the rumor about her. 

Let’s practice 

Q1: Try making your own sentence.

Q2: What is the past simple tense of ‘decide’? Use your answer to share your most recent decision. 

Q3: Which game/interest helped you gain new friends when you were young? How did it happen?

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