Simple Past Tense: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what the simple past tense is? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on simple past tenses, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is the simple past tense?

According to Walden, there are many different forms of verbs in the English language, from a simple form of the verb to complex:

  •   Simple past tense
  •   Gerund tense or gerund phrase 
  •   Imperative tense
  •   Conditional perfect progressive tense
  •   Bare infinitive tense
  •   Present perfect tense
  •   Conditional perfect tense
  •   Present perfect progressive tense 
  •   Present continuous tense
  •   Past participle tense
  •   Future perfect progressive tense
  •   Simple present tense
  •   Past perfect tense
  •   Present participle tense
  •   Future progressive tense
  •   simple past tense
  •   Indicative tense
  •   Past perfect progressive tense
  •   Future perfect tense
  •   Simple future tense
  •   Conditional tense
  •   Simple conditional tense
  •   Conditional progressive tense
  •   Past progressive/continuous tense
  •   Present perfect progressive/continuous tense
  •   To-infinitive tense
  •   Present perfect continuous tense
  •   Subjunctive tense
  •   Perfect passive tense
  •   Present progressive tense
  •   Present indicative tense
  •   Infinitive tense

Today we will go over the simple past tense. According to EF, the simple past tense is a verb tense that describes actions that happened and were completed in the past. There are many different ways to conjugate regular verbs and irregular verbs, just like in the present tenses, perfect tense, and future tense. This verb tense is often thought of as the “ed” tense, because that is the regular suffix that is used.  For example, rip becomes ripped, spy – spied, hop – hopped, pine – pines, fan – fanned, slam – slammed, pin – pinned, and more. Many different verbs can be simple past tense verbs, such as an auxiliary verb, the main verb, and more English verbs can all be past tense verbs. The past tense can be used for a time expression as well as past habits. In English grammar, when forming the simple past tense of the verb, one will most often add ed to the last consonant of the base form of the verb.

What are examples of the simple past tense?

Take a look at the below list of simple past example sentences from English Page and English Study Here:

  •  I went to school yesterday.
  •  Where was she at  o’clock last night?
  •  The bus stopped a few minutes ago.
  •  An old man sat down and read his book.
  •  We saw the Eiffel Tower.
  •  Dr Smith healed the patient.
  •  I went to bed early yesterday.
  •  A large trunk came around the corner.
  •  I read an interesting book last month.
  •   Last year, I traveled to Japan.
  •  Did you have dinner last night?
  •  We talked on the phone for thirty minutes.
  •  Shauna studied Japanese for five years.
  •  I saw a movie yesterday.
  •  She washed her car.
  •  I lived in Brazil for two years.
  •  He didn’t wash his car.
  •  I didn’t see a play yesterday.
  •  She was shy as a child, but now she is very outgoing.
  •  They sat at the beach all day.
  •  I studied French when I was a child.
  •  Did you play a musical instrument when you were a kid?
  •  Did you live in Texas when you were a kid?
  •  People paid much more to make cell phone calls in the past.
  •  He didn’t play the piano.
  •  Last year, I didn’t travel to Korea.
  •  Did you add flour, pour in the milk, and then add the eggs?
  •  He arrived from the airport at 8:00, checked into the hotel at 9:00, and met the others at 10:00.
  •  She worked at the movie theater after school.
  •  He didn’t like tomatoes before.
  •  He played the violin.
  •  They did not stay at the party the entire time.
  •  I finished work, walked to the beach, and found a nice place to swim.
  •  They never went to school, they always skipped class.
  •  They bought 5 tickets for the concert.
  •  We listened to music.
  •  He smoked a cigarette.
  •  Two boys played with a ball.
  •  Amelia chose to stay with her father.
  •  I liked the film.
  •  I enrolled in the pilates course.
  •  They lived in Spain.
  •  Did they lose the match?
  •  Did you play football yesterday?
  •  We ate meat with my best friend yesterday.
  •  He bought a new house last month.
  •  Last year I traveled to Germany.
  •  We did a lot of shopping at the shopping mall.
  •  My brother drank a glass of milk  hours ago.
  •  We played basketball last Sunday.
  •  It discovered a new land.
  •  I missed the class last week.
  •  Alex changed his place.
  •  George came home very late last night.
  •  She left the school.
  •  He had a dog last year.
  •  We watched a movie last weekend.
  •  A nurse brought a little baby girl to the park.
  •  Mary forgot to turn off the light.
  •  She finished her work at six o’clock.
  •  We were good friends.
  •  I cancelled my meeting for tomorrow.
  •  I forgot my wallet.
  •  Michael studied hard all year.
  •  The rain stopped an hour ago.
  •  I watched TV last week.
  •  A gardener swept up dead leaves.
  •  They were students last year.
  •  I met my wife 20 years ago.
  •  They had a meeting with her colleagues.
  •  An old lady walked with her cat.
  •  You were at the station.
  •  Did she clean her home?
  •  She finished all the exercises.
  •  He cut his finger and went to hospital.
  •  I fell off of the monkey bars as a kid.
  •  Last night before bed I took a shower, moisturized my face, and brushed my teeth.

Overall, the simple past tense refers to past actions that have been completed. The simple past can also be used to refer to past habits. This is one of many different forms of the past tense that you may see in the English language, along with the past perfect, past progressive, and more. 


  1. Verb Forms: “-ing,” Infinitives, and Past Participles – Grammar – Academic Guides | Walden University 
  2. 50 Sentences of Simple Past Tense | English Study Here 
  3. Simple past tense | EF
  4. Simple Past Tense | ENGLISH PAGE