Past Simple



1. The simple past tense is expressed with the past form of the verb and nothing else.

    My grandfather died last year.

    My grandfather was died last year. (Incorrect)
    My grandfather has died last year. (Incorrect)

2. The simple past tense refers to
    a. action which occurred at a specific time in the past
    b. completed action
    c. past status

    Specific past action Completed action Past status
    I ate lunch at noon today.
    He drove to work yesterday.
    She finally mailed the letter.
    Jan finished her report on time.
    John was still single in 1995.
    Jane was a movie star.

Note the usage of the past tense in the following story.

Yesterday Mrs. Hubbard had a very rough day. In the morning, she went to the kitchen and looked in the cupboard for some food for her dog, but the cupboard was empty. Her poor dog stared up at her with its hungry eyes, and she knew she had to do something quickly. She hurried to the grocery store to buy some dog food, but unfortunately the store was out of her dog’s favorite brand, so she had to catch a bus downtown. After buying the food, she waited for a half hour in the rain to get a taxi. When she finally got home, her dog was sound asleep on the living room sofa.


Common problems with the past tense

1. Using the present tense when the past tense is required.

    Last week, Tonya fix her neighbor’s car.
    Last week, Tonya fixed her neighbor’s car. (Correct)

2. Using “was” with verbs in the past tense.
    It was happened one night in September.
    It happened one night in September. (Correct)


Exercise 1

Exercise 2