Our 12-part series on all of the tenses in the English language continues with the Simple Past. If you missed them, be sure to check out lessons one and two!
The Simple Past
The Simple Past is one of the first things that English students learn. It is also one of the aspects of the English language that students tend to make the most mistakes with, often because students confuse irregular verbs. We will look at all of the uses of the Simple Past and then talk about the most common errors students make when using this tense.
With each of the examples, there are some great suggestions for restaurants/activities in San Diego’s Little Italy, the neighborhood where CISL San Diego’s residence hall, Vantaggio, is located. The charming neighborhood is located next to Downtown San Diego and the San Diego Bay and is known for its many restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Throughout the year, Little Italy hosts numerous festivals, including August’s Ferragosto, February’s Carnevale, the spring ArtWalk, and autumn Festa. For more information on San Diego’s Little Italy, click here.
Forms of the Simple Past
Form 1: Regular verbs, positive sentence
verb + ed
I walked around San Diego’s Little Italy last night.
Form 2: Regular verbs, negative sentence
subject + did not + verb
I didn’t get coffee at Pappalecco this morning, but I usually go there every day for their delicious Italian coffee.
Form 3: Irregular verbs (check out this detailed list of irregular verbs to help improve your understanding of them!)
Yesterday I had a negroni at Monello’s happy hour and it came with delicious side dishes!
Form 4: Question form
Did + subject + verb
Did you try the pasta at La Villa when you ate there? They have the BEST Bolognese!
Uses of the Simple Past
Use 1: An action completed in the past
Little Italy was once a home to Italian fishermen and their families.
Use 2: Completed actions in the past
Yesterday I had the best pizza at Isola in Little Italy.
Use 3: A period of time in the past
I lived in CISL dorms, Vantaggio, for one year.
Use 4: Habitual action in the past
My friend worked at the Little Italy Mercato for three years.
Use 5: Things that are no longer true
The Mercato was just a few vendors when it first started.
Common Irregular Verbs in English
One of the most difficult aspects of using the Simple Past in English is that there are many irregular verbs. These verbs do not follow the “-ed” ending that regular verbs use. The following is a list of common English verbs that are irregular in the Simple Past. How many of them do you know? Scroll down for the answers!
Irregular Verbs (Base Form)
Base Form Simple Past