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Simple Past Verb Tense | English Grammar Lesson

This lesson is part of the series on Verbs in English:

  1. Simple Past Verb Tense (Grammar + Pronunciation)
  2. Present Perfect Verb Tense (Grammar + Pronunciation)
  3. Present Perfect Continuous Verb Tense (Grammar + Pronunciation)
  4. Past Perfect Verb Tense (Grammar + Pronunciation)
  5. Future Verb Tense: “will”, “going to”, “gonna” (Grammar + Pronunciation)

Listen to the audio!:

…or watch the video!:

We use the simple past verb tense in English when we talk about:

  1. a past action with 
  2. a definite start and ending

This completed action is usually indicated by the -ed ending, which has three different pronunciations:

  • [t]
  • [d]
  • [Id]


Here, the simple past verb tense is used because the walk to the store began and ended; it is a completed action.

Another Example

  • “I visited Paris in June.”

Here, the action of visiting Paris (arriving there, seeing the sights, then leaving) began and ended, i.e. it is a completed action. 

What if I had said…

  • “I have visited Paris.”

Here, you know the speaker has visited Paris before–some time in the past–but we don’t know when in the past.

So, if you want to talk about a past event that has happened in some general, non-specific time in the past, use the present perfect tense (with “have” or “has”) instead of the simple past.

Got it?

Let’s practice.

Listen and Repeat

  • “I visited New York last month.”
  • “She studied English for 10 years.”
  • “We picked up three pizzas for dinner.”
  • “You wanted to buy a new suit, didn’t you?”
  • “I walked the dogs this morning.”
  • “It was cold, so I covered her with a blanket.” (Note that we could also delete the “h” in “her”).
  • “I printed five copies of the report.”

(Don’t forget you can learn the -ed pronunciation rules here).

Irregular Past Tense Verbs

Although simple past tense verbs usually end in -ed, there are plenty of exceptions.

Let’s practice a few examples of irregular past tense verbs.

Listen and Repeat

  • “You were on my mind all day.”
  • “I went to the store this morning.”
  • “He became ill after eating at that restaurant.”
  • “She fell last week and twisted her ankle.”
  • “She ran home as fast as she could.”
  • “He got a sunburn at the beach.”

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