1. Forming the Simple Past Tense using '-ed'
The Simple Past Tense is formed by adding 'ed' to the verb. There are some verbs that are irregular and form the Simple Past differently. These Irregular Verbs must be memorized. You can learn Irregular Verbs in a future englishcam.com lesson or in a good English textbook. Later in this lesson we will use irregular verbs. Look at the table (below) which compares the Simple Present and Past tenses:
Simple Present Singular Simple Past Singular Simple Present Plural Simple Past Plural
I watch TV every day. I watched TV last night. We watch TV every day. We watched TV last night.
You watch TV every day. You watched TV last night. You watch TV every day. You watched TV last night.
He watches TV every day. He watched TV last night. They watch TV every day. They watched TV last night.
She watches TV every day. She watched TV last night.
The Simple Past Tense is used to describe an action when it happened at a specific time in the past. The Simple Present describes actions that generally occur on a regular basis. It is used for events or situations that usually or always exist in the past, present and future. The following sentences show how the Simple Present and Past are used:
a: It rains during the winter in Costa Rica. It rained yesterday.
b: My father works in an office. My father worked late last night.
c: Teachers usually ask students questions in class. The teacher asked the student to be quiet.
a: My son calls me on the telephone every week. My son called two hours ago.
Note that the words, yesterday, last and ago are often used to express past time. As in other exercises, you may repeat a sentence during the pause indicated on the video. Now let's practice the Simple Present and Past tenses in the following exercises. For example:
1. I __listen__ to the radio when I drive a car. I ___listened___ to the news last night. (listen)
2. He always ________ me before he comes to my house. He ___________ me yesterday on the cell phone. (call)
3. I often _________ my teacher for advice. She __________ the teacher the same thing 5 minutes ago. (ask)
4. We usually ___________ our own meals in the Conversa House. Last night we ____________ a great meal. (cook)
5. They typically ____________ a long time for the bus. Yesterday morning, they _______________ over an hour for the bus. (wait)
6. The farmers _____________ their crops early in the spring. Two years ago it rained a lot and they _________ their crops in late spring. (plant)
2. The Negative in the Simple Past
The negative in the Simple Past is formed using the words DID NOT (or the contraction didn't) between the Subject and the present tense of the Main Verb. For example:
a: I did not teach class yesterday.
Repeat: I did not teach class yesterday.
b: My boyfriend did not give me a ring last night.
Repeat: My boyfriend did not give me a ring last night.
c: We didn't finish the job on time.
Repeat: We didn't finish the job on time.
Now let's practice the NEGATIVE in the Simple Present and Past tenses in the following exercises. For example:
1. Ivan and Ana _come__ to school every day. But yesterday Ana __didn't come_ with Ivan. (come)
2. My boyfriend normally ____________ me dancing on Saturday night. Unfortunately, last Saturday night he __________________ me dancing. (take)
3. You often ________________ the answers to the homework. But today you ___________________ the answers. (explain)
4. I usually ________________ time to explain the answers. However, since I was late, I ___________________ time to explain them. (have)
5. We always __________ shopping when there is a sale. Since it was raining, we _________________ shopping. (go)
3. Making Yes/No Questions in the Simple Past
Very good. Now let's practice making questions. To make a question in the Simple Past we use the past tense of the helping verb To Do, or DID with the subject followed by the main verb. The answer is often a short one. The structure is:
Question Short Answer
DID + SUBJECT + MAIN VERB Yes, he did. / No, he didn't.
In the following exercise, the short answer is followed by the long answer.
a: Did you go to the movies last night?
b: Yes, I did. I went to the movies last night.
Repeat: Yes, I did. I went to the movies last night.
a: Did Fernando come to class yesterday?
c: No, he didn't. Fernando didn't come to class yesterday.
Repeat: No, he didn't. Fernando didn't come to class yesterday.
a: Did the Yankees win the World Series last year?
b: Yes, they did. The Yankees won the World Series last year.
Repeat: Yes, they did. The Yankees won the World Series last year.
a: Did Ivan go dancing with Ana tonight?
c: Yes, he did. Ivan went dancing with Ana tonight.
Repeat: Ivan went dancing with Ana tonight.
4. Making Questions using Where, When, Why, How, and What Time.
The structure of these sentences is to use the Question Word (where, when) plus the helping verb DID plus the Subject followed by the Main Verb.
Where, When, Why, How, What Time + DID + Subject + Main Verb
a: I went to Costa Rica on vacation last year. Lee, where did you go on vacation last year?
b: I went to Germany last year. When did you make your vacation plans?
Repeat: I went to Germany last year. When did you make your vacation plans?
a: I made vacation plans one week before I went. Kiyomi, how did you travel on your vacation?
c: I took a train. What time did the next bus leave for New York?
Repeat: I took a train. What time did the bus leave for New York?
a: It left at 9 o'clock. Lee, why did you study Spanish?
b: I studied Spanish because there are many people in America who speak it.
Repeat: I studied Spanish because there are many people in America who speak it.
5. Making Questions with What and Who
Very good. When we ask questions about things we use What. Who is used to ask questions about people. The structure uses the question word followed by a helping verb plus the subject followed by the main verb.
Question Word (What, Who) + Helping Verb (did) + Subject + Main Verb
In the following exercises, make a question based on the information and verb given. Use the Simple Past tense. Repeat the question where indicated. For example:
1. a: (What/find/new restaurant) _________________What did you find? ________________________
Repeat: What did you find?
b: _______________We found a new restaurant.______________
Repeat: We found a new restaurant.
2. a: (What/you/buy/English Dictionary) __________________________________________________________?
3. a: (Who/go/movies/with) __________________________________________________________?
b: (Bob) _______________________________________________________________________
4. a: (What/buy/apple) ________________________________________________________?
b: (I) ________________________________________________________________________
5. a: (What/have/dinner/last night) ____________________________________________________?
c: (we/fish) _____________________________________________________________________
6. a: (Who/see/beach/yesterday) ___________________________________________________
b: (John) _________________________________________________________________
That's all for now. You can study more about the Simple Past Tense and how it is used in the lesson, "The Present Perfect versus the Simple Past Tense". Until next time, keep practicing your English!