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

If a verb ends in a vowel and a consonant, the consonant is usually doubled before -ed.

stop stopped

If a verb ends in consonant and -y, you take off the y and add -ied.

try tried

But if the word ends in a vowel and -y, you add -ed.

play played

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.


Language level: 


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


Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 12 September, 2013 - 07:54

Hi Elcuapo. You're very welcome :) Which video did you like the most?
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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WildChild's picture
WildChild 26 July, 2013 - 09:45

Yap! Yesterday I studied English , I watched TV...... I had fun because I was shopping too! :)

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Lover_english's picture
Lover_english 2 July, 2013 - 12:34

I was at home the mostly of the day yesterday. I was very busy reading the new interesting book. I was watching very interesting TV programme during evening.
This grammar snack is wonderful and very usefull for me. Thank you very much.

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 26 April, 2013 - 19:06

I was at home the mostly of the day yesterday; I had to study so much for today and I had to postpone everything, including my friend's party, which I regret so much, but I didn't have a choice. My chemistry teacher is so severe, so if I hadn't studied, she'd kill me:). I'll have to make it up to my friend.
I studied chemistry for 3,5 hours-we had so many lessons to learn, and than I studied history and physics for an hour. And I went to dance classes-it was so relaxing and it lasted for 2 hours, as usually.
Than I came back home, had a dinner and went sleep.
I was tired and exhausted, but it was worth of it-I got A at chemistry:)

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 26 April, 2013 - 20:14

Congratulations on the A grade in Chemistry. :) It was worth all the hard work and studying! 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)



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Vikanda's picture
Vikanda 2 January, 2013 - 13:49

Yea, I think - this lesson is good, but I learned it on English course, but I must remeber it, so - You did good job. (^w^)
Yesterday I was alive and alive and alive. And I slept. \(^o^)/

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jenniferkim's picture
jenniferkim 27 December, 2012 - 05:32

Mmm...... Let me think
Yesterday I study Math for 4hours. It was really boring because I hate Math. It's too confusing..
After studying Math I played games. It was really fun. The time past so fast.

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Alister's picture
Alister 21 November, 2012 - 15:04

I like this grammar snack. Yesterday I played computer games and ate my dinner, and did my homework. My day was OK , but today I have a litlle problem with my Chemistry.

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
Jo - Coordinator 12 September, 2012 - 08:16

Hi Silver, This video works OK on my computer, I've just checked. Can you see the other videos in Grammar Snacks? We'll try to help you solve the problem.

Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 11 April, 2013 - 17:26

Hi marila2013,
The video seems to be working fine. Can you give us some more information please? Which browser are you using? Can you watch the videos OK in Video UK and Video zone? 
Let us know and we'll try to help you. Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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