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English Grammar – Simple Past

Form of Simple Past

  • P: He spoke.
  • N: He did not speak.
  • Q: Did he speak?

Use of Simple Past

Simple Past is used for actions and situations in the past.

  • Facts and situations in the past

    Expresses a fact or given situation in the past.


    Our secretary worked very hard.
    I did not agree with you.

  • Actions in the past

    Actions in the past that took place never, once, several times or regualary. (see also: signal words)


    Mister Brown never attended any meeting. He always sent me.

  • Actions taking place one after another

    Actions in the past that took place one after the other.


    Mister Sanders came into the office, checked his mailbox and went straight to the briefing.
    What a horrible day: first my computer crashed, then our best customer cancelled their order and on my way home my car broke down.

  • Actions taking place in the middle of another action

    (Sudden) action that took place in the middle of another action. (see also: Past Progressive)


    I was sitting in a meeting, when my mobile suddenly rang.
    When I came in, John was playing solitaire.

Signal Words of Simple Past

yesterday, 2 minutes ago, in 1990, the other day, last Friday, If Clause Type II (If I talked, …)

Detailed Explanation and Exercises on Simple Past

Exercise on Simple Past

Complete the sentences in Simple Past.

  1. Our company (start) business in 1995.
  2. We (order) the goods two months ago.
  3. I (send) you the letter last week.
  4. We (receive) your order yesterday.
  5. The postman (come) in, (give) me the documents and (leave) .
  6. When I (arrive) , Anne was talking on the phone.
  7. I (get / not) your letter yesterday.
  8. Mister O'Brian (be / not) in the office last week.
  9. (Sarah / go) to the trade fair on Thursday?
  10. (you / ring) me ten minutes ago?