1. What is the past?

Past = time before now

Examples of the past:

yesterdayat 8 o’clock this morning
2 days agoon Sunday
last weekbefore lunch
last yearlast night
5 years agowhen I was a child

2. Past actions need a different verb

Actions done in the past (yesterday; 2 days ago; last year) use the past tense. The past tense means the verb is in the past.

PresentPastExample sentence
runranI ran to school.
eatateHe ate the cookie.
playplayedHugh played tennis with Angus.

3. When to use the past tense

Two things must be true for the past tense:

Action is finished
Time is finished
(basically, everything is finished)

4. How to make the past tense

To make the past tense, the verb needs changed.

There are two types of verb change:

  • + ed
  • irregular

This past tense = verb + ed.
However, if the verb ends in ‘consonant + y’, the ‘y’ is usually changed to ‘i’

VerbPast tense (verb + ed)Example
playplayedI played football yesterday.
watchwatchedHe watched TV on Sunday.
walkwalkedThey walked to the zoo this morning.
cookcookedWe cooked pasta last night.
livelivedI lived on Rose Street when I was a child.
paintpaintedLast week Anna painted the wall green.
kisskissedHe kissed her on Friday.
startstartedI started studying English when I was 4 years old.
studystudiedShe studied chemistry at university.
trytriedWe tried to call you before we left.

Many verbs do not use +ed.
You have to learn word for the past tense.

VerbPast tense (irregular)Example
am/iswasHe was happy this morning.
arewereThey were angry with him this morning.
eatateI ate a cake last night.
drinkdrankShe drank 2 bottles of wine before dinner.
gowentWe went to the cinema on Sunday morning.
writewrote Dave wrote a letter to Kim 3 days ago.
buybought Samantha bought a new computer last month.
sellsoldPaul sold his computer to Samantha last month.
dodidI did not do my homework yesterday.
taketookAt 10 o’clock they took the bus to the train station.

5. Combining past tenses

Yesterday I went to the shop. I bought an apple. Then I walked to school.When I was young I liked milk and drank it every day.
5 years ago I lived in Russia. We ate Russian food every day. My mother cooked it. It was delicious.On Saturday the girls went to the park and bought an ice cream, but it soon started to rain so they went home again.
Last week my mother sold her car. A man bought it for $10. It was very cheap, but we were very happy.The man took the bus to the beach. Then he threw the suitcase into the sea. Finally he went to the airport and caught a flight to Mexico.