Simple Past (Past Simple)

The simple past expresses an action in the past taking place once, never, several times. It can also be used for actions taking place one after another or in the middle of another action.

Form of Simple Past

 PositiveNegativeQuestion
no differences I spoke. I did not speak. Did I speak?

For irregular verbs, use the past form (see list of irregular verbs, 2nd column). For regular verbs, just add ed.

Exceptions in Spelling when Adding ed

Exceptions in spelling when adding edExample
after a final e only add d love – loved
final consonant after a short, stressed vowel
or l as final consonant after a vowel is doubled
admit – admitted
travel – travelled
final y after a consonant becomes i hurry – hurried

Use of Simple Past

  • action in the past taking place once, never or several times

    Example: He visited his parents every weekend.

  • actions in the past taking place one after the other

    Example: He came in, took off his coat and sat down.

  • action in the past taking place in the middle of another action

    Example: When I was having breakfast, the phone suddenly rang.

  • if sentences type II (If I talked, …)

    Example: If I had a lot of money, I would share it with you.

Signal Words of Simple Past

  • yesterday, 2 minutes ago, in 1990, the other day, last Friday
  • If-Satz Typ II (If I talked, …)

Exercises on Simple Past

Tests

Grammar in Texts

Comparison with other Tenses