The simple past is used to talk about actions that started and ended in the past and are finished. The simple past is most often formed by adding ‘-ed’ to the end the base form of a regular verb:

Base Form/Simple Past

walk/walked – We walked to the mall yesterday.

play/played – Our children played together in the park last week.

work/worked – I worked 50 hours last week.

march/marched – I marched in 20 parades when I was in high school.

talk/talked – In the meeting, the CEO talked about the merger.

With irregular verbs, the spelling may or may not change to form the simple past (eat/ate, sleep/slept, cut/cut).

Base Form/Simple Past

eat/ate – We ate spaghetti for dinner last night.

sing/sang – My mother sang in the choir when she was young.

cost/cost – Our trip last year cost about $500.

cut/cut – My husband but his hair last week.

You can view and download a list of about 140 irregular verbs by clicking here: Commonly Used Irregular Verbs

Asking questions

When you want to form a question about a past action, use the past tense of the helper verb ‘do’ plus the base form of the verb that defines the action.

did + verb

Did you eat breakfast this morning?

Why did you cut your hair?

Did you submit your report to your department head this morning?

Negative Forms

When creating the negative form of a past action, use the negative form of the verb ‘do’ plus the base form of the verb that defines the action.

did not/didn’t + verb

I didn’t finish the report this morning.

I did not go to Europe last year.

Paul didn’t meet with the client this morning as scheduled.

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