Simple past tense- Dictionary meaning, examples with exercises

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Meaning of simple past tense

The simple past (also termed as the past simple tense, past indefinite tense, or preterite tense) is a verb tense to indicate an action that is completed in the past. It is to speak about something that has already happened.

Simple past tense examples

Base Form Past Tense Form Example Sentences
Play Played She played the piano every morning last month.
Take Took He took the bus to school.
Travel Traveled Jack traveled to Switzerland last year.
Write Wrote She wrote her journal yesterday night.
Go Went Jill went to school today morning.
Eat Ate She ate salad for lunch.
Work Worked She worked as a banker earlier than her current job.
Fly Flew She flew to Sydney 2 years ago.
Use Used He used the latest gadget for his work.
SeeSawShe saw him last October.

Simple Past Forms

To change a verb into a past tense, (for regular verbs only) add -ed to the end of the verb (or just -d if the root form already ends in an e):

  • The past tense of the verb “walk” is walked. (walk + ed)
  • The past tense of the verb “type” is typed. (type + ed)
  • The past tense of the verb “play” is played. (play + ed)
  • The past tense of the verb “pull” is pulled. (pull + ed)
  • The past tense of the verb “love” is loved. (love + ed)

It is a little complicated to change irregular verbs into past tense though. The simple past forms are more unpredictable for irregular verbs.

  • See→Saw 
  • Build→Built
  • Go→Went
  • Do→Did
  • Rise→Rose
  • Am/Is/Are→Was/Were

We usually use the simple past tense to express the following ideas

  • The simple past is also frequently used to talk about past habits and generalizations which are no longer true.

Example: She was an introvert as a child, but now she is quite outspoken.

  • The simple past can be used to express the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. 

Example: I saw an opera day before.

  • The simple past can be used to list out a series of completed actions in the past. 

Example: I finished cycling, walked to the beach, and found a nice place to swim.

  • The simple past can be used with a duration which starts and stops in the past, It indicates a duration of time such as years,hours, all day, all year, etc.

Examples: I lived in Colombo for five years.

Let’s practice:

  1. Make a sentence using the simple past tense.
  2. Fill in the simple past tense in the following blanks by choosing the right word from the brackets.
  • She __________ to draw (Like/Likes/liked)
  • She __________melodiously at the concert (sings/sang/will sing)
  • He ___________to the market in the afternoon (go/went/will go)

Read more on Simple Present tense/Indefinite tenses: Click here

Read more on Simple Future tense: Click here

Read more on the 12 tenses of Engish grammar with detailed explanation and easy examples: Click here

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