The past simple tense (also called the preterite) describes a completed action that took place before the present moment.
In English, the past simple tense does not change based on person or number.
To form the past simple tense, regular verbs add –ed:
For specific spelling rules, please watch the video above.
Irregular verbs change more drastically. Here are a few examples:
Do – did
Come – came
Buy – bought
Sit – sat
The negative form consists of did not (didn’t) and the base (the infinitive minus to)
We didn’t (did not) surrender.
He did not call.
They didn’t wait.
To ask a question in the past simple tense, use did and the base (the infinitive minus to):
Did you ask?
Did they request that?
I cooked breakfast.
Over a period of three years he mastered the guitar.
Every day at lunch she ate a sandwich with cheese, lettuce, and tomato.
I rarely played the flute those days.
I smiled and she frowned.
For more information, please see our introduction to all twelve verb tenses in English.