Simple Past Tense – 10 Minute English Grammar

The sentence formation follows:

  Singular Number Plural Number
1st Person I did We did
2nd Person You did You did
3rd Person He did  
  She did They did
  It did  

Uses of The Simple Past Tense:

  1. The past tense refers to actions completed in the past at a definite time:
    1. Actions with the specific time given: We met them to discuss this proposal yesterday.    His father passed away in 2016. I was born in 1990.
    1. When actions took place even though time is not mentioned: The bus arrived 10 minutes late.    How did you convince him to work with you?    I bought a Volvo S90 car in Canada.
  2. The past tense is used for a past habit: She always carried a water bottle.    My father drank the cold milk.
    1. We can also use ‘used to’ or ‘would’ for past habitual actions: My father used to drink cold milk. My father would drink cold milk.
  3. The past tense is also used in conditional sentences when the supposition is contrary to known facts: If I were you, I would not have done such a mistake (But I am not you.)

Note: The same sentence can also be constructed in other way as well: Were I you, I would not have done such a mistake (But I am not you.)

If I knew this fact beforehand, I would not have permitted him to go and talk to him. (But I don’t know this fact.)

For the unreal past, we use subjunctive mood with as though, as if, it is time, if only, would sooner/rather and wish.

She is crying as if she were a child. (But she is not a child)

  • The past tense is used for describing incidents/accidents: The plane was hijacked by terrorists.    Two pilots were killed in a helicopter crash.
  • The past tense is used for narrating stories and history: Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a brave king.    There was a clever crow.    The 1897 battle of Saragarhi was the epitome of bravery, sacrifice and valor.    Baji Rao never lost a battle in his life.