Simple Learning English | How To Speak English-Constructing Simple Sentences (passt Teance)

How to form the Past Tense in English

The main rule is that for every verb in English, there is only one form of it in the past tense.
(The exception is the Past tense of To Be, which has two forms: was and were)

This is totally different from other languages such as Spanish, French, Italian etc. where you change the verb ending for every subject.
For example: The past tense of the verb want is wanted.
Wanted is used as the past tense for all subjects/pronouns.

  • I wanted
  • You wanted
  • He wanted
  • She wanted
  • It wanted
  • We wanted
  • They wanted
So you just have to learn one word to be able to use it in the past tense. In this case we just needed to learn the one word wanted which can be used for all subjects (or people).

Past Tense Regular Verbs

To change a regular verb into its past tense form, we normally add –ED to the end of the verb.
  • play – played
  • cook – cooked
  • rain – rained
  • wait – waited
There are some exceptions with a slight change in spelling which you can see here:
Spelling of words ending in ED.

Examples of sentences using regular verbs in the past tense

  • Last night I played my guitar loudly and the neighbors complained.
  • She kissed me on the cheek.
  • It rained yesterday.
  • Angela watched TV all night.
  • John wanted to go to the museum.
Note: There are three different ways of pronouncing the –ed at the end of a verb in the past tense.
We recommend reading our guide about the pronunciation of –ED at the end of words.

Negative sentences in the Past Tense

We use didn't (did not) to make a negative sentence in the past tense.
This is for regular AND irregular verbs in English.
(Exception is To Be and Modal Verbs such as Can)

Compare the following:
Present: They don't live in Canada.
Past: They
didn't live in Canada.
The main verb (live in the example above) is in its base form (of the infinitive). The auxiliary DIDN'T shows that the sentence is negative AND in the past tense.
NOTICE: The only difference between a negative sentence in the present tense and a negative sentence in the past tense is the change in the auxiliary verb.
Both don't and doesn't in the present tense become didn't in the past tense.
Compare the negative sentences in the examples below:
Present: You don't need a mechanic.
Past: You
didn't need a mechanic.
Present: You don't walk to work.
Past: You
didn't walk to work.
Present: He doesn't speak Japanese.
Past: He
didn't speak Japanese.

Examples of negative sentences in the Past Tense

  • I didn't want to go to the dentist.
  • She didn't have time.
  • You didn't close the door.
  • He didn't come to my party.
  • They didn't study so they didn't pass the test.
  • We didn't sleep well last night

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