FORM OF THE
SIMPLE PAST TENSE WITH REGULAR VERBS
The form is
the same for all persons.
played /d/ arrive/arrived
You > arrived /d/ wait/waited
He > worked /t/ stop/stopped
She > dreamed/dreamt /dri:md/ or /dremt/ occur/occurred
It > posted /Id/ cry/cried
of the regular past verbs in the regular past always end with a -d in
their spelling, but the pronunciation of the past ending is not always the
common spelling characteristic of the regular past is that -ed is added to
the base form of the verb: opened, knocked, stayed, etc. Except in the
cases noted below, this -ed is not pronounced as if it were an extra
syllable, so opened is pronounced: /@Up@nd/, knocked: /nQkt/, stayed:
end in the following sounds have their past endings pronounced /d/: /b/
rubbed; /g/ tugged; /dZ/ managed; /l/ filled; /m/ dimmed; /n/ listened;
vowel + /r/ stirred; /v/ loved; /z/ seized. The -ed ending is not
pronounced as an extra syllable.
end in the following sounds have their past endings pronounced /t/: /k/
packed; /s/ passed; /tS/ watched; /S/ washed; /f/ laughed; /p/ tipped. The
-ed ending is not pronounced as an extra syllable.
/d/ or dreamt /t/
A few verbs
function as both regular and irregular and may have their past forms spelt
pronounced /d/ or /t/: e.g. burn, dream, lean, learn, smell, spell, spill,
end in the sounds /t/ or /d/ have their past endings pronounced /Id/:
posted, added. The -ed ending is pronounced as an extra syllable added to
the base form of the verb.
Spelling of the regular past
past always ends in -d:
ending in -e add -d: e.g. phone/phoned, smile/smiled. This
rule applies equally to agree, die, lie, etc.
ending in -e add -ed: e.g. ask/asked, clean/cleaned,
with a single vowel letter followed by a single consonant letter double
the consonant: beg/begged, rub/rubbed.
two-syllable verbs the final consonant is doubled when the last syllable
contains a single vowel letter followed by a single consonant letter and
is stressed: pre'fer/preferred, re'fer/referred. Compare:
'benefit/benefited, 'differ/differed and 'profit/profited which are
stressed on their first syllables and which therefore do not double their
final consonants. In American English labeled, quarreled, signaled and
traveled follow the rule. In British English labelled, quarrelled,
signalled and travelled are exceptions to the rule.
is a consonant before -y, the "y" changes to
"i" before we add -ed: e.g. carry/carried,
deny/denied, fry/fried, try/tried. Compare: delay/delayed, obey/obeyed,
play/played, etc. which have a vowel before -y and therefore simply
add -ed in the past.
FORM OF THE
SIMPLE PAST TENSE WITH IRREGULAR VERBS
The form is
the same for all persons
He > took >
She > shut > the suitcase
It > sat on >
the past form of irregular verbs
regular verbs, irregular verbs (about 150 in all) do not have past forms
which can be predicted:
number of verbs have the same form in the present as in the past: e.g.
cut/cut, hit/hit, put/put. It is important to remember, particularly with
such verbs, that the third person does not change in the past: e.g. he
shut (past); he shuts (present).
form of most irregular verbs is different from the present: bring/brought,
catch/caught, keep/kept, leave/left, lose/lost.
USES OF THE
SIMPLE PAST TENSE
1. Completed actions
use the Simple Past Tense to talk about events, actions or situations
which occurred in the past and are now finished.
have happened recently:
or in the
reference must be given:
or must be
understood from the context:
When we use
the simple past, we are usually concerned with when an action occurred,
not with its duration (how long it lasted).
to, the simple past can be used to describe past habits:
sometimes use the Simple Past without a time reference to describe
something that happened a very short time ago:
Past does not always refer to past time. It can also be used for polite
inquiries (particularly asking for favours), often with verbs like hope,
think or wonder. Compare:
WITH THE SIMPLE PAST TENSE
association of the Past Tense with adverbials that tell us when something
happened is very important. Adverbials used with the past tense must refer
to past (not present) time. This means that adverbials which link the
present (before now, so far, till now, yet) are not used with past
adverbials like yesterday, last summer and combinations with ago
are used only with past tenses:
meaning 'back from now', can combine with a variety of expressions to
refer to the past: e.g. two years ago; six months ago; ten minutes ago; a
long time ago:
Past is often used with when to ask and answer questions:
points to a definite contrast with the present:
adverbials can be used with past tenses when they refer to past time, but
can be used with other tenses as well:
always liked Gloria.
saw her in Rome.
ever meet Sonia?
phrases: We left at 4 o'clock/on Tuesday.
clauses: I waited till he arrived.
as + adverb
+ as: I saw him as recently as last week.