Subject + past tense (-ed except irregular verbs)
|Examples:||I walked||They ran|
|You killed||He/ she/ it cried*|
|We ate||*Note: if the verb ends in -y, change the -y to an -i and add -ed.|
Use simple past for:
1. Telling a story or talking about something that happened to you at a specific time (usually, the time is either said or already known)
– Last Saturday, my new passport finally came in the mail.
– I went to a good university (when I was younger), but my dreams died shortly after.
2. Descriptions of people, things, and situations in the past
– Sammy was the fattest little dog in my neighborhood, and his owner always smelled like garlic and cheese.
– It was a dark alley, but I needed to pee, so I pressed on.
3. Things that don’t happen anymore or facts that are no longer held true
– People often rented movies before the internet became popular.
– The Earth was thought to be flat for many centuries.
4. Habits that you’ve outgrown
– I used to bite my nails a lot, especially while I wrote exams.
– She often picked her nose in class.
– It was great to go to the game last weekend. I really needed a break from work.
Note: When we use simple past for feelings, we often change to present tense to explain those feelings.
– It was nice to have lunch with you yesterday. I always enjoy spending time with good people.
6. Use ‘did’ plus the base verb to emphasize a point.
– He really did want to see you last night; He was just sick.
– I did like your mother’s cooking; please believe me!
Notice the difference
The main differences between simple past (I went) and present perfect (I have been) are:
1. Simple past allows you to indicate time.
2. Simple past can tell you you used to do something regularly, not just once at some point in the past.
– I played hockey when I was younger (it was something I used to do)
– I have played hockey (it has happened once or twice)
3. The action for simple past has ended and perhaps won’t be done again.
– I went to university (assume I graduated).
– I have been to university (maybe I didn’t graduate or didn’t think it was important)