Step by step English grammar. Verbs ~ past tense
In this awesome post, you will learn how to use the simple past tense with confidence.
*The basics are the most important part of your English grammar and communication study. They are the foundation of your language.
Past tense verbs
Please read the following passage ↓
Mark Twain was an American writer. He lived from 1835 to 1910. He wrote many popular books and traveled across Europe and America.
Was, lived, wrote and traveled are verbs in the simple past tense.
Past tense verbs often end with _ed. These are called regular verbs.
- He lived from 1835 to 1910.
- Mark Twain traveled across Europe and America.
- We played volleyball after school.
- Lois and Meg talked for hours.
In English, there are many verbs whose past tense doesn’t end with _ed. These are called irregular verbs.
- Mark Twain was an American writer. (Was is the past tense singular form of the verb to be.)
- He wrote many popular books. (Wrote is the past tense of write.)
- I bought a new computer yesterday. (Bought is the past tense of buy.)
- We saw a great movie on Friday, it was about Mark Twain. (Saw is the past tense of see.)
😉Find 50 common irregular English verbs with example sentences at the end of this post.
Simple past tense rules
① Negative verb forms and questions in the past tense use the auxiliary verb do. The main verb will be in simple present tense.
Negative past tense statements use did not, didn’t.
- Mark Twain didn’t go to university. (Not didn’t went)
- The computer sale is over soon so I didn’t want to wait. (Not didn’t wanted)
Past tense questions use did you? – did he/she/it etc.
- Did Mark Twain live in Australia? (Not did he lived?)
- Did you buy a Mac or a PC? (Not did you bought?)
② When do is the main verb we will use this grammar:
Did do. Didn’t do.
A: “What did you do on Saturday?”
B: “I didn’t do anything. My day was boring.”
The best (and only) way to learn irregular verbs in their past tense is to memorize them. I have included a list below with some natural examples make them easy to remember.
Common irregular verbs
Below is a list of the 50 most common irregular verbs in English from esl lounge.
1. say said
“Yancy said she would be here by 6:00.”
2. make made
“I hope she gets here soon, I made reservations for 6:30 at the restaurant.”
3. go went
“Maybe she went to the bank after work?”
4. take took
“If she took the local streets she will be late. The roads are always crowded around this time.”
5. come came
“Last week she came here after work and the traffic was fine.”
6. see saw
“I just saw her pull into the driveway.”
7. know knew
“I knew Yancy would be here on time!”
8. get got
“I got an email from Peter this morning, he’s back from his vacation.”
9. give gave
“Yes, he gave me a call from the airport last night when he arrived. I went there to pick him up.”
10. find found
“The airport was so busy! I finally found him after 15 minutes of searching.”
11. think thought
“I thought Peter would be on vacation for 3 weeks.”
12. tell told
“He told me that he would only stay for 12 days.”
13. become became
“He just became a division manager so he can’t be away from the office for too long.”
14. show showed
“On the drive home from the airport, he showed some photos from his trip.” *Show is an irregular verb because the past participle is shown not showed. Other regular verbs whose past tense is _ed use the same form for the past participle.
15. leave left
“Hawaii is so beautiful, You must have been sad when you left.”
16. feel felt
“I felt sad every time I left the beach! Relaxing on the beach is my favorite thing to do.”
17. put put
“Peter had to buy an extra duffel bag for all the souvenirs he bought for his staff. First, he put them in his suitcase, but then his clothes wouldn’t fit!”
18. bring brought
“He is so kind! He brought back a lot of treats for his co-workers.”
19. begin began
“After working for 6 hours without a break, Lisa began to get very hungry.”
20. keep kept
“We kept telling her to relax a little, but Lisa really wants to finish this project.”
21. hold held
“Our boss held a meeting to explain how important this project is to the company.”
22. write wrote
“As the project manager, Lisa wrote a 3-page memo detailing everyone’s tasks.”
23. stand stood
“At the meeting, Lisa stood behind our boss taking notes.”
24. hear heard
“She heard everything he said very clearly.”
25. let let
“She works hard, so this morning I let her have the last donut in the staff break room.”
26. mean meant
“Sorry, I meant to say danish, not donut.”
27. meet met
“After the meeting, the team met at a local restaurant to have dinner together.”
“The whole project team was at the restaurant, the staff set the table for 18 people. It was a big table!”
29. run ran
“It was a big dinner so I ran home to burn some calories.”
30. pay paid
“It was a great dinner, and our company paid for everything!”
31. sit sat
“Eric was very quiet during dinner. He sat in the corner and didn’t say anything.”
32. speak spoke
“Almost every member of the team spoke about their contribution to the project.”
33. lie lay
“3 nights ago I lay in bed thinking about what I would say at the meeting.”
34. lead led
“It was my first to time in Tokyo so I was happy to have a guide. He led the way during our trip.”
35. read read
“I read 6 books about Tokyo before my trip.”
*Be careful, the spelling for the past tense is the same as the present tense but they are pronounced differently.
Present tense – read ~ REED
Past tense – read ~ RED
36. grow grew
“No one took care of my garden while I was away and weeds grew everywhere.”
37. lose lost
“My favorite team lost an important game last night. I’m sad today.”
38. fall fell
“I was so nervous watching the game I fell off my chair!”
39. send sent
“My friend sent me a message right after the game to tease me. (He likes the other team!)”
40. build built
“I wish my local team had more support from the community. They built a new arena last summer but not enough people are coming to live games.”
41. understand understood
“I tried to explain to my friends that it’s important to support the team, but I don’t think they understood why.”
42. draw drew
“I drew a picture for my student to help explain the meaning of the new word.”
43. break broke
“I pressed the pencil so hard that I broke it!”
44. spend spent
“I spent the next 5 minutes trying to find a new pencil.”
45. cut cut
“I reached into my desk looking for a pencil and I cut my finger on a utility knife.”
46. rise rose
“I shouted ‘ouch!’ and my student rose from her desk to see what was wrong.”
47. drive drove
“I didn’t have any bandages so we drove to the pharmacy to buy some.”
48. buy bought
“I bought a big box of band-aids.”
49. wear wore
“It was raining so I wore a rain jacket to the pharmacy.”
50. choose chose
“I chose a family size box, it has 50 band-aids in 4 different shapes.”