Grammar Reference

Past simple - Meaning and use

We use the past simple when an action or situation happens and finishes in the past. We usually say or know when it happened.

She called me at the office yesterday.


I worked in London in 2010.


Steve went to the US three times last year.

We often use the past simple in stories, when one thing happens after another in the past.

I stopped working in London and I looked for another job.

Past simple positive

For regular verbs, the past simple ends in -ed. Irregular verbs have a different past form. The past simple form is the same for all persons (I, you, he, she, etc.)

I finished university in 2010 and I started a job in a bank.


Then he left that job and went to live in Japan.


We lived there for a year.

Past simple negative

We make the negative form with didn’t (did not) + infinitive without ‘to’.

I didn’t like working in a bank.


He didn’t go to the US. He went to Japan.

Past simple questions

Past simple wh-word questions are made from question word + did + subject + infinitive.

Where did you go last night?

The question word how is usually combined with other words when asking for information, such as size, time, or the price of something.

How long did it take to cook dinner?

Past simple yes/no questions are made from did + subject + infinitive without ‘to’.

Did you like living in Japan?


What did your children do there?

We can use short answers:

Did you go to Anjali’s party last night? Yes, I did. / No, I didn’t.

Take note: spelling changes

Some regular verbs end in -ed, but have some spelling changes in the past simple.

stop – stopped
travel – travelled
marry – married
study - studied

Take note: time expressions

We often use the past simple with time expressions like yesterday, last month, six years ago, when I was a child.

Did you travel a lot when you were young?


He married Sonya three years ago.

Irregular verbs

Infinitive - Past simple - Past participle

fall - fell - fallen

feel - felt - felt

get - got - got

go - went - gone/been

have - had - had

hurt - hurt - hurt

keep - kept - kept

put - put - put

run - ran - run

take - took - taken

tell - told - told