Simple Past Tense (Did) – With Explanations Pictures and Exercises

Simple past tense (past simple tense) is a verb tense that describes completed actions or past habits before now. It is also used to talk about a series of events in the past. “Did” is the helping verb of simple past tense. For affirmative (positive) sentences we use past simple form of a verb.

Formation of simple past tense

For affirmative sentences we use the formation of “verb + ed”. For negative sentences and questions we use the auxiliary “did” or “did not”. See the chart below to learn the structure of simple past tense.

  Did Why didWhere did


arrivedworkedhelpdid not playplaygo


simple past tense - grammar timeline

Simple Past Tense Formation
(+) Affirmative form (-) Negative form (?) Question form
 I watched.  I didn’t watch.  Did you watch?
 You watched.  You didn’t watch.  Did you watch?

Which auxiliary (helping verb) to use for simple past tense?

The auxiliary verb in simple past tense is “did“. However we use “was-were” to talk about a state in the past.

  • I walked in the park.
  • I didn’t walk in the park.
  • Did you walk in the park?
  • I was in the park.
  • I wasn’t in the park.
  • Were you in the park?

Positive (Affirmative) sentences

For the formation of positive sentences in simple past tense we add “-ed“, “-ied” or just “-d” to the verb. We do not use “did” for the positive sentences.

  • I asked a question.
  • She studied maths.
  • She cleaned her room.
  • Jack repaired the car last week.
  • A traffic accident happened yesterday.

Negative sentences

For the formation of negative sentences in simple past tense we use “not” together with “did“. The short form is “didn’t

  • He did not want tea.
  • We didn’t wait for the bus.
  • I didn’t use your pen.
  • Susan didn’t lie.

Interrogative sentences

For the formation of question sentences (interrogative) in simple past tense we put “did” before the subject.

  • Did you enjoy your holiday.
  • Did she write an email.
  • Where did Yuto go?
  • What did Ali want?

Sentence forms in simple past tense

Simple Past Tense Formula with example sentences
(+) Affirmative sentences (-) Negative sentences (?) Interrogative sentences
 I played  I didn’t play  Did I play?
 You played  You didn’t play  Did you play?
 He played  He didn’t play  Did he play?
 She played  She didn’t play  Did she play?
 It played  It didn’t play  Did it play?
 We played  We didn’t play  Did we play?
 They played  They didn’t play  Did they play?

What are the regular verbs?

Regular verbs are the verbs that gets “-ed“, “-ied” or “-d” for the the past simple forms.

Regular verbs
Infinitive Past simple Past participle
clean cleaned cleaned
play played played
study studied studied

What are the irregular verbs?

Irregular verbs are the verbs which don’t get “-ed“, “-ied” or “-d” to form past simple form or past participle form. There are a number of irregular verbs which needs to be memorized. Because the formation has no standard rule. Some verbs have the same form as bare form, past simple form or past participle form. For example “cut, put, let, hit”.

Irregular verbs
Infinitive Past simple form Past participle form
find found found
go went gone
break broke broken
speak spoke spoken
put put put


  • (+) I visited my uncle. 
  • (-) I didn’t visit my uncle yesterday. 
  • (?) Did you visit your uncle yesterday? 
  • (+) They found the cat.
  • (-) They didn’t find the cat.
  • (?) Did they find the cat?

❯❯ Learn verb to be here
❯❯ Learn simple present tense here
❯❯ Learn present continuous tense here
❯❯ Learn future simple tense (will) here
❯❯ Learn be going to future tense here
❯❯ Learn past continuous tense here
❯❯ Learn present perfect tense here

Explanations and usages of Simple Past Tense

Let’s go on with the explanations, usages and time adverbs of simple past tense:

1- Finished actions in the past

Simple Past Tense is used to describe a finished action in a specific time in the past.
watched a film yesterday. 
didn’t watch a film yesterday. 
Last year, I traveled to Italy. 
Last year, I didn’t travel to Italy. 
She washed her hands. 
She didn’t wash her hands. 
I bought a hat yesterday.
Did you like your cake?
Where did you go?
What did Ethan say?
How did she get 100 points in the exam?

2- A series of finished actions.

Simple Past Tense is also used to describe past actions that happen one after the other. The series of actions are all expressed in simple past tense.
went out, walked to the park, and watched the sky silently.

He arrived from the airport at 11:00, looked for someone to ask the way, and called a taxi.

3- Past habits

We can also use simple past tense to talk about habits in the past.
always played basketball when I was a child.
He often played the guitar.
They never went to school, they always skipped.
She worked at the hospital after school.

Using “was”, “were” to talk about past states.

If you want to talk about a past state or condition we use “was, were”. The negative form is “was not, were not” or “wasn’t weren’t”. To make questions we use “was/were” before the subject.

I lived in London.
I was in London.

Examples (did)
Sally worked at the hospital.
Sally didn’t work at the hospital.
Did Sally work at the hospital?
Where did Sally work?

Examples (was-were)
Sally was at the hospital.
Sally wasn’t at the hospital.
Was Sally at the hospital?
Where was Sally?

What are the time expressions in simple past tense?

I went to the cinema yesterday. 
last week, last year, last Sunday, last month etc.
He bought a car last week. 
two years ago, four days ago, three minutes ago etc.
I saw her five minutes ago.
in 1995, in 2003 etc.
I had an accident in 2014.

Time adverbs exercise

You can see the simple past tense time adverbs below. Click on the cards and tell the meaning of them in your native language..

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Images and example sentences

You can learn simple past tense with images and example sentences below.

A conversation example

Here is a dialogue to learn simple past tense. You can make similar conversations.

  1. avatar image

    Hi? Harry

    Did you win the match yesterday?

  2. avatar image

    Yes, we did.

  3. avatar image

    How was the game?

  4. avatar image

    I don’t know.

  5. avatar image

    What do you mean?

    Didn’t you play?

  6. avatar image

    Actually I didn’t.

    I had a traffic accident

    so I spent the night at a hospital.

    We won the match.

    My teammates dedicated the goals to me.

  7. avatar image

    How nice!

    Well. Your team needs you. Get well soon.

Translate these sentences

You will see random examples of simple past tense below. Try to translate them into your own language.

Sentence scramble game

You will see scrambled words of simple past tense sentences. Click on them in order to make a sentence.


Example sentences about simple past tense

You can see many sentences below to learn simple past tense.

10 examples of about simple past tense

  1. I listened to the new pop album yesterday. It’s great.
  2. She liked the film but she didn’t like the music.
  3. There was a problem with the plug.
  4. I was happy to see her with a smile in her face.
  5. Her parents travelled by train from Istanbul to Moscow.
  6. I phoned you four times last night but you were out.
  7. There were many workers waiting outside.
  8. We walked along the beach yesterday. It was lovely.
  9. I had a problem. So I asked to my mother about it.
  10. Last week I was in Paris. I stayed in a hotel.

Questions and with answers

Read the questions and the answers below to learn how to use about simple past tense.

10 questions and answers about simple past tense

  1. Did you like the film?
    Yes, I liked it very much.
  2. Did they give her a present after the ceremony?
    Yes, they gave her a new camera.
  3. When did you start playing the guitar?
    I started playing the guitar when I was nine.
  4. Was there a guard at the door?
    No. They let us in.
  5. When did you leave school?
    I left school when I was sixteen.
  6. Who invented the radio?
    Guglielmo Marconi invented it.
  7. When did you give your first concert?
    We gave our first concert in a wedding in Liverpool.
  8. How many sandwiches did he eat?
    He ate 3 sandwiches.
  9. Were you with Sally when she had an accident?
    Yes, I was.
  10. What did she do with the book?
    She sat on a bench and started reading.

External resources:
You can go to British Council page and study simple past tense, or watch a video from the popular movies about past simple tense.

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