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Simple Past for Beginners

Read the following discussion using the simple past tense

Robert: Hi Alice, what did you do last weekend?
Alice: I did a lot of things. On Saturday, I went shopping.
Robert: What did you buy?
Alice: I bought some new clothes. I also played tennis.
Robert: Who did you play?
Alice: I played Tom.
Robert: Did you win?
Alice: Of course I won!
Robert: What did you do after your tennis match.
Alice: Well, I went home and took a shower and then went out.
Robert: Did you eat in a restaurant?
Alice: Yes, my friend Jacky and I ate at 'The Good Fork'
Robert: Did you enjoy your dinner?
Alice: Yes, we enjoyed our dinner very much thank you. We also drank some wonderful wine!
Robert: Unfortunately, I didn't go out this weekend. I didn't eat in a restaurant and I didn't play tennis.
Alice: What did you do?
Robert: I stayed home and studied for my test!
Alice: Poor you!

Take a look at the following conjugation chart. Notice from the above dialogue and following chart that the simple past is used to describe what happened at a specific time in the past - last weekend in the above dialogue.

Examples Usage
Where did you go yesterday?
The flight left at 8 o'clock.
They didn't come last night.
Finished past actions, definite past
Common past time expressions include: last (week, year, night), yesterday, ago, in 1987, when I was a child.
Structure
In the positive form, for regular verbs, add an -ed to the verb. Many verbs are irregular. Some of the most common are: go -went, buy - bought, take - took, come - came, have - had, eat - ate, drink - drank. There are many irregular verbs so you will need to start learning them now.
I
You
He
She
It
We
You
They
arrived late last night. (regular verb)

came back late last night. (irregular verb)

Use the conjugated helping verb 'did' not (didn't) the base form of the verb to make negatives.
I
You
He
She
It
We
You
They
didn't go to New York last week.
Use the conjugated helping verb 'did' subject the base form of the verb in question forms.
When Did I
You
He
She
It
We
You
They
leave yesterday?

Try this past simple quiz.

Past Simple Quiz

Tom (buy) a new house last month.

When (they/arrive) last week?

She (not/understand) the question yesterday.

Fred (take) a lot of pictures on his holiday last summer.

What (you/get) for your birthday?

They to get the bread this morning!

Alice (play) tennis this morning.

Where (you/go) last weekend?

I (want) to buy that computer, but it was too expensive.

Why (they/not/come)?

To help you learn the irregular verbs, use this fun interactive past tense learning tool.

The past simple is often confused with the present perfect. This present perfect vs past simple quiz will help you test your understanding of when to use the present perfect or past simple.

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Related Video
ESL: Past Tense for Beginners

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