Past Simple or Simple Past

Objectives of today’s lesson:

In this lesson, Learn English with Julia presents to you “Simple Past”, in order for you to:

  • go through simple past examples
  • get practice through simple past exercises
  • understand the simple past formula
  • see more simple past tense verbs


Video Script: Past simple or Simple past

Hello and welcome to this video on the simple past or past simple!

Now this video is more of an introductory video because I’ll be focusing on a regular verb: “to learn”

I recommend you watch the other videos on irregular verbs, on question forms, on how to spell this simple past.

Let’s focus on “learn”

The form in the simple past if it’s an affirmative sentence, a positive sentence: I’d simply add “-ED”
I learned
you learned
he/she/it learned
we learned
you learned
they learned

If it’s a negative form: I’m going to add an auxiliary. I’m not just going to say “I not learned”* or: “I learned not”*
I’m going to remove that ending (-ED) and give it to the auxiliary So the auxiliary is in the simple past, followed by not, and the bare infinitive:
I did not learn – I didn’t learn

I’m insisting on this because students are sometimes tempted to say I “didn’t learned”*
So be careful there, students and teachers.
So: I did not learn. I didn’t learn. Same form for all of the subjects.

What if I have a question?
Here there are exceptions. I’ll just very briefly mention them.
But just generally speaking, if it’s a regular verb I’ll formulate my question as follows:
Did I know? Did you learn? Did I not learn?
Didn’t I learn?

But in a question I can ask the following two: if I’m looking for the object: “what did he say?”
What did he say? (question)
However if I’m looking for the subject I’m not going to need this.
I’m going to say: “Who said that?”
So I’m going to use this form followed by the object.
Who said that? (the object)
Who said that? I’m looking for the subject.

That is an exception if you wish or a different context.

So please practise once you’ve watched this video.

When do I use this tense?

– I generally you use it when the action is over, it’s been completed.
– When I want to focus on the duration of that action
– Or when an action has happened once, never or several times in the past.
– I also use it for a series of actions. I opened the book, I read, I learned something new.
– Or for facts or generalisations in the past.

These signal words are very useful with the simple past:
last… (last week, last Friday), in… (in September, in 1995), yesterday, the other day,
when… (when I was a child) and so on…

I also use this tense in one of the conditional clauses. So once again don’t forget to watch the other videos to fully understand this tense.

So I’ve already mentioned many of the hints.
So watch out for the spelling. When it’s just a simple verb like this (learn) I just add “-ED” but it’s not always true so be careful.
Watch the video on irregular verbs. There are many irregular verbs.
The conditional clauses
The auxiliaries also.
Find out more about the importance of these auxiliaries.
And question forms using the simple past.


Grammar Quiz to practice the simple past:


Key Words listed in English:

  • past simple or simple past
  • past tense
  • irregular verbs
  • regular verbs
  • -ED endings

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