Past Simple and It’s all rules with easy examples

What is Past Simple?

We use the Past Simple to talk about an action that began and ended in the past. The action might have happened either in a moment or over a longer period.

You must have already learned about the definition of Past Simple Tense, the Formulas of Past Tense, and Past Simple Tense Sentence Structure with examples in Step-16. We will learn here more about the Past Simple Tense, especially about the rules of using the Past Simple tense, and in the end, we also do some exercises for Past Simple Tense.

Use of Verb in Simple Tense

Remember the same past simple form goes with the subject irrespective of its number and person. Therefore, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person Singular and Plural all take Past Simple Verb Form only i.e (V2). For example,

  1. I/You//He/We/You/They went home.

But the “BE” verb has two separate past simple forms i.e. ” WAS and WERE“. “was’ is used with the 1st and 3rd Person Singular subject and “were” is used with the 1ST and 3RD Person Plural subject. But, the 2ND Person “YOU” takes the same form in the SINGULAR and the PLURAL. So, it takes the plural “BE” verb form i.e “WERE” . Se the examples,

  1. I was happy.
  2. We were happy.
  3. You were happy.
  4. You were happy.
  5. He/She/It/Ram/Sita was happy.
  6. They were happy.

When we make Questions and Negative Sentences, we add “DID” to the base(V1) form of the verb. For example,

  1. Did I/we/you/you/he/she/they go home? (Question)
  2. I/We/You/You//He/She/It/Rama/They did not go home. Or, You/I/He didn’t go home. (Negative)

But when we use the simple past form of the ‘be’ (i.e. was/were) verb in a sentence, we directly add ‘not’ after the ‘be’ verb to make the sentence negative and to make the question sentence we bring “BE” verb before the subject. For example,

  1. I/He/She/Ram was not here yesterday. (Negative)
  2. Was I here yesterday? (Question)

How to convert a verb (V1) to a Past Simple Form (V2)?

Usually, we add –ed to the base (V1) of most verbs to get the Past Simple Form (V2). If a verb ends in –e, we only add –d to it. Such verbs are called Regular Verbs. Look at the following examples.

Base form of Verb (V1)Past Simple form of Verb (V2)
How to convert a regular verb (V1) to a Past Simple Form (V2)?

Some verbs in English do not follow the above rule. They are called irregular verbs. See, how some of them make the Past Simple form. You have to remember them by heart.

Base form of Verb (V1)Past Simple form of Verb (V2)
Swim Swam
Win Won
Know Knew
How to convert an irregular base Verb Form (V1) to Past Simple Form (V2)

Rules of using Past Simple Tense

Past Simple use Rule-1

We use the Past Simple to talk about an action that began and ended in the past. The action might have happened (i) in a moment or (ii) over a longer period. Study the examples.

       (i) In a short moment:

  1. Goutam fell down from the tree.
  2. She got a shock from the electric wire.
  3. They stopped playing before the evening.
  4. We saw a beautiful bird yesterday.

(ii) Over a longer period:

  1. We stayed in the office the whole day.
  2. The British ruled India for many years.
  3. Pavani was ill for two weeks.

Past Simple use Rule-2

We use the Past Simple to talk about habits or actions that happened repeatedly in the past. Study the exampels.

  1. We usually spent the summer in our village.
  2. People did everything by hand in ancient days.
  3. Every day we walked a few miles in the morning and evening.
  4. It rained a lot last year.
  5. We walked to school in our childhood.

       Note: When we use the Past Simple, we always have to say or imply when the action happened. So, we often use the time references like yesterday, last year, last week, ago, this morning, in the past, before two days, etc.

The use of “Used to” in Past Simple  (Rule-3)

   We use “USED TO” to talk about a past habit. Further, we can also use ‘used to’ in stead of the simple past. Study the examples.

  1. I walked five miles a day. (I used to walk five miles a day.)
  2. Our teachers helped us a lot at school. (Our teachers used to help us a lot at school.)                

But, remember, we do not use “USED TO” in stead of the Simple Past if we are telling how often a thing happened in the past. Study the examples.

  1. Geeta gave me money many times in the past. (But it is wrong to say, Geeta gave me money used to help me many times in the past.)
  2. It rained all day yesterday. (But it is wrong to say, It used to rain all day yesterday.)

As ‘USED TO ’ does not have a present form, we cannot use it toexpress a present habit. For example we cannot say.

  1. I use to eat every day. (This sentence is completely wrong.)    

Past Simple Tense Exercise-1

Answer the following questions.

  1. Who taught you Mathematics last year?
  2. What did you eat yesterday?
  3. How did you come to school?
  4. When did she pass class fifth?
  5. Where did you complete your schooling?
  6. Where did you buy this computer?

Past Simple Tense Exercise-2

Ask at least 03 questions about each sentence using WHEN, WHERE, WHAT, HOW, WHOM. For example, I met him in Delhi Yesterday.


  • Who did you meet in Delhi Yesterday?
    1. Whom did you meet?
    2. When did you meet him?
    3. Where did you meet him?
  1. The principal gave Geeta a prize.
  2. Madhuban sold my car yesterday.
  3. We saw a beggar at the gate.
  4. Rekha bought a book from the book fair yesterday.
  5. Mr. Goutam went to Cuttack by train last week.

Past Simple Tense Exercise-3

Complete the sentences with the negative form of the verbs in the Past Simple. The first one has been done for you.

1.  We asked for help, but he ____________(help) us.

Ans: We asked for help, but he did not help us.

2. Manish saw us but _________(say) anything.

3. The teacher gave him some advice, but he _________(obey) them.

4. I found a purse, but ______________(find) any money there.

5. I ate my breakfast, but ________(eat) my lunch.

6. I went to your workplace, but _______(find) you there.

Past Simple Tense Exercise-4

I. In the following passage, Rajesh tells what he did after the HSC Examination. Fill in the blanks with the verbs in their proper forms.

I __________(pass) the HSC examination with a first class. Then I __________ (apply) to a college for my higher education. I __________(decide) to study commerce. I __________ (join) a commerce college in Cuttack. I__________(not have) any relation there so, I __________(stay) in the college hostel.

II. Rajesh tells further about his activities in the hostel and at the college. fill in the blank using Simple Past or Used to.

In the hostel I __________(get) up early in the morning. After freshening myself up I _________(take) a quick breakfast. Then I __________(sit)down to do my hbomework. At 10:30am I __________(have) classes at college. I__________(attend) classes from 10:30am to 1:30pm. In the afternoon I __________(play) some outdoor games with my friends. Twice a week during that time I __________(go) to the market to buy my necessities. Every night I __________(read) at least for 06 hours.

Past Simple Tense Exercise-5

Write ten sentences telling what you did last Sunday.

Past Simple Tense Exercise-6

Complete the sentences using either the Simple present or the Simple Past form of the verbs in brackets.

  1. I ________ (not do) my homework owing to my sickness.
  2. Every day________(go) by but today she ________ (go) in her mother’s car.
  3. Every week she ________ (visit) her parents. Last week she ________ (not visit) them because she ________ (be) ill.
  4. My sister ________ (make) a cake yesterday because I _______ (love to eat them.
  5. There ________ (be) 50 students in the class last year. This year there ________ (be) only 35 because 15 students ________ (fail) the examination.

“Do not be proud of wealth, people, relations and friends, or youth. All these are snatched by time in the blink of an eye. Giving up this illusory world, know and attain the supreme.”

– by Adi Shankara

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