As you watch the video, look at the examples of regular past simple verbs. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, regular past simple verbs correctly.
Oliver: So, how did it go? Did you pass?
Alfie: No, I failed ... again!
Oliver: I don’t believe it! How did you fail again? What happened this time?
Alfie: You won’t believe it!
Oliver: No? No way, Alfie, not the same as last time?
Oliver: No way! Not another cat?
Alfie: I know! I’m in shock! I love cats!
Oliver: So, what happened?
Alfie: Well, I stopped at a zebra crossing to let an old man cross the road. No problem there. He walked across the road so I started to drive. Just then a cat appeared from nowhere!
Oliver: Did you hit it?
Alfie: I did. It was impossible to stop.
Oliver: I don’t believe you, Alfie. You’re joking, aren’t you? You didn’t fail, did you? Nobody can kill two cats on two driving tests!
Alfie: What can I say? I know - it’s totally crazy. The owner of the cat arrived ...
Oliver: Oh no ... and?
Alfie: Well, he said it wasn’t my fault, the cat escaped from the garden ... the driving instructor agreed too. So, we carried on with the test, but I was too nervous and I crossed a red traffic light.
Oliver: Poor you, mate! Do you want to come over?
Alfie: Yeah, OK. See you in five minutes.
The past simple is the most common way of talking about past events or states which have finished. It is often used with past time references (e.g. yesterday, two years ago).
Please explain past events or states!
A past event could be one thing that happened in the past, or a repeated thing.
I stopped at a zebra crossing.
We carried on with the test.
We played tennis every day in August.
A state is a situation without an action happening.
We stayed at my grandparents' house last summer.
How do you form the past simple?
Regular past simple forms are formed by adding -ed to the infinitive of the verb.
start → started
kill → killed
jump → jumped
That seems easy!
Yes, but there are some spelling rules. If a verb ends in -e, you add -d.
agree → agreed
like → liked
escape → escaped
If a verb ends in a vowel and a consonant, the consonant is usually doubled before -ed.
stop → stopped
plan → planned
If a verb ends in consonant and -y, you take off the y and add -ied.
try → tried
carry → carried
But if the word ends in a vowel and -y, you add -ed.
play → played
enjoy → enjoyed
OK, not quite so easy! But the past simple form doesn't change at all for I, you, he, she, we and they, does it?
No, the form doesn't change. See, it is easy!
What about the pronunciation of the -ed ending?
There are three kinds of pronunciation: /d/, /t/ and /ɪd/. Look at the table below.
Aaagh! How do I know how to pronounce each one?
Good question. Well, really all you need to know is that /d/ is easier to say after arrive, and /t/ is easier to say after ask. For /ɪd/, the infinitive ends in a /d/ or a /t/ sound already so you must add an extra syllable for these verbs.
All right, that makes sense, but how do you form questions and negatives?
With the verb did (do in the past) + the infinitive.
Did you pass?
You didn't fail, did you?
Yes, I did. / No, I didn't.
Right, thanks, I've got it now!
Good. But you also need to learn the irregular past simple forms.
You mean there are verbs that don't end in -ed in the past?
Yes, they don't all end in -ed. Have a look at the past simple irregular verbs too.
Worksheets and downloads
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