Alfie took his driving test for the second time this morning. Did he pass?

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.

/d/ /t/ /ɪd/
arrived asked wanted
failed crossed decided
agreed stopped started

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.

 

Discussion

Did you like this grammar snack? What did you do yesterday? Tell us about your day.

Comments

editor_rachael's picture
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editor_rachael 3 November, 2018 - 16:24

Hi Vivian8899,

 

Good question! He didn't drive is the past simple. He wasn't driving is the past continuous. 

 

In your example, we would usually say He wasn't driving fast when the accident happened. This is because we often use the past simple and the past continuous together when one action 'interrupts' another one. In this case, the accident 'interrupted' the driving. 

 

Hope that helps!

 

Rachael
LearnEnglish Teens team

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Sha99's picture
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Sha99 29 June, 2018 - 11:03

Yes I like this grammar class
Yesterday was a rainy day .I couldn't go anywhere outside. I took a picture in my mobile of outside of my house that filled with water.Some people were walking in the water,it was very difficult for them to move. And I watched a good film with my family.

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Pippatwo's picture
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Pippatwo 19 June, 2018 - 14:45

Yesterday I worked out, then took a nap and then did chores around the house. Then I practiced for a play.

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G123M's picture
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G123M 2 June, 2018 - 13:12

My name is Ghali. I am from Morocco. I live in Rabat. I go to the gym very often. I help my mom in the kitchen. I play games in my.
my name was GHALI. I WAS from MOROCCO .I LIVED IN RABAT .I STUDIED I WENT
I helped I played

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Tina - Coordinator's picture
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Tina - Coordinator 3 June, 2018 - 12:32

Hi G123M,
Thanks for your comments on LearnEnglish Teens. You mentioned that you are eleven years old. I'm sorry to tell you that the Teens site is for students from 13 to 17 years old, so we can't publish any more of your comments.
But do you know LearnEnglish Kids? This is the site for students of your age group and you can join and comment there. The address is: www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglishkids.
Best wishes and good luck with your studies!
Tina, (LearnEnglishTeens Team)

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