Understanding Simple Past tense: Formation, Usage, and Signal Words

The simple past tense is referred to in English grammar as the Simple Past tense and describes states and actions in the past. It is the first past tense that English learning students deal with.

In addition, we show you typical irregular verbs, such as be in the Simple Past tense and clarify our explanations with the help of signal words that point to the Simple Past. All our explanations are explained in a practical way with example sentences.

The English past tense at a glance

Regular verbs: Regular verbs are conjugated in the past tense by adding "-ed" to the end of the infinitive.

Irregular verbs: Irregular verbs do not have a set rule for how they are conjugated in the past, so it must be memorized.

Use of the past tense: The past tense is used to describe actions or events that occurred in the past.

The formation of the Simple Past tense in English

To form the Simple Past tense, you need to know the correct conjunction of the verb. For regular verbs, you simply have to add the suffix -ed to the verb stem. With irregular verbs, it's a little different. Here you have to learn the conjugation of the verbs by heart.

Below you will find some examples of regular verbs and some irregular verbs that you can use to learn English grammar.

Regular verbs of the Simple Past tense in English

To talk

I talked
You talked
He/She/It talked
We talked
They talked

Example sentences in Simple Past tense

Wetalkeda lot about our past experiences.
talkedto my friends about every topic we could think of.
talkedto his teacher about our homework from yesterday.

To walk

I walked
You walked
He/She/It walked
We walked
They walked

Example sentences in Simple Past tense

Iwalkedto school every morning.
walkeda hundred miles to get to the restaurant.
walkeda lot in her youth.

Irregular verbs in simple past tense

To be

I was
You were
He/She/It was
We were
They were

To become

I became
You became
He/She/It became
We became
They became

To get

I got
You got
He/She/It got
We got
They got

These were just a few irregular verbs in Simple Past tense. For the complete list, check out our blog post on irregular English verbs.

Continue learnng.

The use of the Simple Past tense

The use of the Simple Past tense is explained very quickly. You use the Simple Past tense whenever you talk about a state or event that has already been completed. The state or event that is being reported on has therefore taken place in the past and has also been completed in the past. The following signal words for the English Simple Past tense include:

Signal words for the Simple Past tense

  • Last year, Last month, Last week ...
  • Yesterday
  • Last Friday, Last Monday ...
  • Last summer, Last autumn ...
  • Last January, Last May ...
  • In 1992 ...
  • An hour ago, a few minutes ago ...

Example sentences

Last week Peter got his favorite toy as a present.
Yesterday I talked with my parents about my future goals.
Last Monday was my mother's birthday.
Last summer Jane spent a lot of time outdoors.
Last May, Pete went on a language trip to London to improve his English.
In 1996 Paula and Marc worked as a construction worker.
An hour ago Frank ate a chocolate cake.

The best thing to do now is to write a few sentences in Simple Past tense using these signal words. Be creative and use words from your existing vocabulary. This will help you to quickly master the English Simple Past tense.

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