Simple Past Tense (Tense 6)
Simple Past Tense
John won the badminton match yesterday.
The sentence has a strong verb ‘WIN’. If you notice, the action of the verb is in a past time (ref: yesterday) which means that the action (winning the match) started and finished in the past time and it’s no longer effective in the present.
Unlike Present Perfect Tense, which indicates an action starting in the recent past but the action or its impact is still prevalent in the present time, Simple Past Tense completes an action in the past and it does not bring its impact to the present time.
“John won the match yesterday” – here everything was over yesterday – John won the match and the impact of the match is no longer felt or needed in the present time. Hence, this is an action of the past time. We mark such actions in Simple Past Tense.
Note: A Simple Past Tense usually has adverbs of past time (such as ago, back, yesterday, last, etc) in a sentence.
Syntax of Simple Past Tense
- Subject + past tense form of verb + …. (in affirmative sentences)
- Subject + was/were + …. (with ‘be’ auxiliary verb)
- Subject + DID NOT + Present form of the verb + ….(in negative sentences)
- Subject + was/were + NOT + …. (with ‘be’ auxiliary verb)
E.g.: He bought a book. (here subject is HE and ‘bought‘ is the past tense form of ‘buy‘ and the book is an object)
- I received a call from Rose yesterday. (it’s today and the action occurred in the past time)
- John flew to Japan last month. (he might be back from Japan already)
- I finished my dinner 2 hours ago. (now doing other things but the impact of dinner is also over)
- Mr. Stewart passed away last year. (he is no more; the action is complete already )
- I did not go to school yesterday. (I may have gone to school today)
- He was a cricket player. (now he is no longer in cricket games).
- He studied economies in England. (either he is not in England any more or he is not studying economics now)
Note1: Add suffixes such as -ed, -d, -t, -ied to the the main verbs to make them in past tense. (This applies for weak verbs only). Else, follow this list of strong verbs and use them as given.
Examples of past tense in weak verbs: -played, gifted, modified, learnt, judged.
→ Go to this page for a list of commonly used strong verbs.
Differences between Simple Past Tense and Present Perfect Tense
The differences in meaning and structure between sentences in Simple Past Tense and Present Perfect Tense look subtle but they are different in all the means. Have a look at their differences with examples.
→ I have eaten my dinner. – (the action might end some times ago but its impact is still on and I may not feel hungry now) ↔ Present perfect tense
→ I ate my dinner. – (the action of eating is complete and I may prepare for my next meal now.) ↔ Simple past tense
→ He has been a good teacher. (he started as being a good teacher and he is still a good one). ↔ Present perfect tense
→ He was a good teacher. (he might have started being a good teacher but he has lost his goodness and he is not seen as a good choice now) ↔ Simple past tense
→ She has sung a beautiful song. (she may have finished singing a while ago but the charm of the song can still be felt) ↔ Present perfect tense
→ She sang a beautiful song. (she sang the song and it’s all over now. She may be preparing for her next performance) ↔ Simple past tense
Summing things up – Simple past tense simply represents an action of the verb done in the past and it has no effect in the present time. The action started in the past and finished in the past; no impact or trail or effect can be felt or assumed in the present That’s it.
Well friends, this chapter ends here. Hope I made things simple and easy to understand. Let me know with your comments if I need to add anything more here or if I’ve got some typos or something like this here. Keep learning and keep improving your grammar. Until then, have a great time ahead.