Past simple tense

Past simple tense

We use past simple tense to say that something happened in the past at a definite time (yesterday, last week, last year etc.). The time doesn’t need to be mentioned but it is clear that the action is over.


to be = was/were

I was

You were

He/She/It was

We were

They were


I was 23 last week. I wasn’t (was not) at work yesterday.

You were happy last time I met you. You weren’t (were not) sad.

He was ill when I called him. He wasn’t in the pub last night.

She was on holiday last summer. She wasn’t in Italy.

It was a nice day yesterday. It wasn’t too hot.

We were in the pub last night. We weren’t at an opera.

They were in Paris last weekend. They weren’t at home.

Verb forms:

Regular verbs: -ed

talked, played, stayed, lived, worked, managed, watched, studied

Irregular verbs: about 290 of them, see a good dictionary for a full list, in past tense we use so-called present participle of these verbs.

Went, met, got, ran, swam, bought, found, brought etc.

Negative form: use didn’t + verb in bare infinitive (go, play, stay, sleep etc.)

was = wasn’t (was not)

were = weren’t (were not)


I went to a shop yesterday to buy a new pair of jeans but I didn’t (did not) buy any because I didn’t like any of them.

The bus was late and thus I was late for work this morning. (It’s afternoon now).

Tom worked in the shop but now he studies at university only. (not working any more)

She wasn’t (was not) very happy with her GCSE results but her mum said it was OK.

Our car broke down on our way to the airport so we had to call a taxi.

It was just a sheer luck we weren’t (were not) late for our flight.

When they went on holiday to France last summer they didn’t have time to visit Notre Dame cathedral in the centre of Paris.

Making questions in past simple:

Are you = Were you; Were you at work last week?

Is he = Was he; Was he ill last weekend?

Is she = Was she; Was she in the cinema last night?

Is it = Was it; Was your food OK?

Are we = Were we; Were we happy about that?

Are they = Were they; Were they nice to you?

Do = Did + verb

Did you like the film you saw in the cinema yesterday?

Did she go out with him to the restaurant?

Did he offer her a lift back home?

Did they have a good time?

Answers in past simple:

Were you busy at work today? Yes, I was.

Was he nice to you? No, he wasn’t (was not).

Were they happy to see you again? Yes, they were.

Was she upset about the weather? No, she wasn’t (was not).

Were we pleased with the service? No, we weren’t (were not).

Did you visit your mum last weekend? Yes, I did.

Did he lend you his car for a day? No, he didn’t (did not).

Did she go to the cinema with him? Yes, she did.

Did your father buy you an ice cream? No, he didn’t (did not).

Did we like the film? Yes, we did.

Did they invite you to their wedding? No, they didn’t (did not).