Past simple

Note: This post is also available in English and Vietnamese .


For regular verbs, we add -ed to the base form of the verb (work–worked) or -d if the verb already ends in e (move–moved).


I, she, he, it, you, we, they


I, she, he, it, you, we, they

(full form)

did not


I, she, he, it, you, we, they

(short form)


? +

Did I, she, he, it, you, we, they


? –

(full form)

Did I, she, he, it, you, we, they not


(short form)

Didn’t I, she, he, it, you, we, they


⚠️ Irregular verbs

  • Many verbs are irregular: went(go), came(come), wrote(write), (see Appendix 1)

  • Note the verb be is irregular: I/he/she/it was; you/we/they were

We use the past simple:

to talk about single past completed actions. Oftend the time is mentioned:

  • A few weeks ago a woman called to report a robbery at her house.

But no time reference is neccessary if it is already known:

  • How did the burglar break in without anybody hearing him? (in the story I just told you about)

to give a series of actions in the order that they happened:

  • The burglar came in through the front door, picked up the woman's handbag, emptied it out and stole her purse.

We often use words like next or then to indicate the sequence of events:

  • Then, the burglar went into the front room, opened all the cupboards and took a valuable collection of CDs.

to talk about past repeated actions:

  • When her son got older he often went out to visit his friends after school

Notice that used to and would can also be used (see B3).

to talk about long-term situations in the past which are no longer true:

  • Bill Murphy worked for the police force for over 17 years.

  • Explorers at that time believed that the world was flat.

Notice that used to can also be used (see B3).