The Past Simple Tense
We use the simple past tense to describe actions that began in the past and finished in the past.
Use. Both the present perfect and simple past both describe events that began in the past and were completed in the past.
The difference is that:
- Only the past simple can be used with a time element (“seven o’clock” or a time word such as yesterday). I studied for my exam yesterday/last week/at seven o’clock.
- The present perfect is used when the event has a direct relationship to the present. (uses words such as already, just or yet). I have already studied for my exam so I can come to your party.
- In the Past Simple, negative statements “only” negate the positive. In the Present Perfect, negative statements both negate the positive AND show the intention to complete the action sometime in the future.
Form. We form the simple past by adding “ed” to the bare infinitive of regular verbs. A list of irregular verbs must be memorized.
The following words are often used in this tense: …ago, in 2016, last…, yesterday.
|I||jogged||around the block||this morning.|
|You||hit (irregular verb)||the ball||over the fence.|
|Tom||ran (irregular verb)||the store||yesterday.|
|We||played||hockey||at the rink||last weekend.|
|They||cheered for||their team.|
When asking a question in the simple past tense we use the verb “to do” in the past tense (did), and the bare infinitive of regular verbs in the present tense.
|"W" Question Word||Auxiliary Verb (did)||Subject||Main Verb (bare infinitive)||Object||where||when||how||why|
|What||did||Harry||say to||his uncle||yesterday?|
|Subject||Auxiliary Verb||"not" + Main Verb||Object||where||when||why||how|
|I||did||not walk||in the snow.|
|You||did||not speak||to her||last week.|
|We||did||not visit||Japan||last year.|
|They||did||not play||baseball||in the park||yesterday.|