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Past simple

Construction: Infinitive + ‘ed’ suffix (not including irregular verbs)

 

(1) We use the past simple to talk about a completed action in the past. The action began and finished at a specified time in the past 
  • I went to James’s house yesterday. (went is an irregular past form of ‘go’). 
  • She saw Jane yesterday. (‘saw’ is also an irregular past form of ‘see’).
  • He worked yesterday.
  • You completed the task on Thursday.

 

(2) We use the past simple to talk about a series of actions in the past, that is, if more than one thing occurred and the recipient wants to express the actions in the same sentence. We usually omit the subject after the first form. 
  • Sally and I cleaned the car, washed our clothes and hanged them up also.
  • My boss called me yesterday and told me to come early.  (we can omit the subject after the second verb to avoid being repetitive so ”My boss called me yesterday and ‘he’ told me to come early” sounds repetitive) 

 

(3) We use the past simple to talk about customs or habits that we had in the past and stopped in the past. ‘used to’ has almost the exact same meaning. 
  • worked hard when I was younger.
  • Sam played an instrument for two years when he was six.
  • I really enjoyed his time when we were young.

 

(4) The past simple is used to talk about duration in the past, as long as the action started and finished at a specified time we use the past simple. Normally, we use an expression of time such as: for two minutes, all month, the whole day, x amount of time. 
  • waited for them for one whole hour and I wasn’t happy about it.
  • They screamed at me all day today.
  • She and I talked all afternoon. 
  • taught him English for three years. 

 

(5) The past simple is used to talk about facts and generalisations in the past that could still be true or untrue in the present. 
  • In my time, we had to work a lot harder than folk today.
  • He never liked to see his grandma.
  • They often bought apples at their local store.
  • Did they play soccer when they were young?

 

(6) We can use adverbs with the past simple such as: just, only, always, never, sometimes, still ever etc.
  • just cleaned your car.
  • They never knew about technical issues.
  • Did you ever do your homework? Yes, I sometimes did it.

 

 

See also:

 

 

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