The Simple Past Tense

We often use the simple past tense to talk about an action that is finished. Some words that tell us that we need to use the simple past tense are “yesterday”, “last (week,/month/year),” “a (day/week/month/year) ago,” etc.

To form the simple past, we add “-ed” to the end of the base form of the verb if it is a regular verb. 

For example:

I work everyday.  Today, I worked from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Last month, we traveled to the mountains.
I talked to my friend last week.

Some verbs are irregular (meaning not regular), so we do not form the simple past by adding “-ed” to the verb.  The irregular form of the past simple is different from the base verb.

For example:

I eat lunch everyday at noon.  Yesterday, I ate lunch at 1:00 PM.
I usually go to bed at 10PM.  Last night, I went to bed at midnight.

Everyday, I buy coffee.  Yesterday, I bought tea.

Watch the following video to learn more about using the simple past tense:

For more practice with the simple past tense, visit these websites and complete the online exercises:

Rewrite the following story in the comment box. Use the past tense. The first sentence is completed for you.

John wants to withdraw money from his checking account. He uses the ATM at the grocery store. First, he puts his ATM card into the machine. Then he types in his PIN (personal identification number). The machine asks him how much money he wants. John types in $100.00. Five twenty-dollar bills come out of the machine. The machine asks John if he wants a receipt. John presses the button for “yes”. John checks the receipt to make sure it’s correct. Then he puts it in his wallet with his $100.00.

John wanted to withdraw money from his checking account.

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