Simple Past Tense Verbs

Simple past tense verbs show actions that took place in the past.

The children played by the fire.
The pretty horse galloped across the field.

Remember that tense means time. So, think of these verbs as past time verbs. They name verbs that were completed in the past.

Principal Parts of Verbs

All verbs can be broken down into what are called four principal parts.

Those four principal parts are:

1. Present

2. Present Participle

3. Past

4. Past Participle

The past category refers to simple past tense verbs. They show actions that took place in the past.

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Present Present Participle Past Past Participle
come (is) coming came (have) come
fall (is) falling fell (have) fallen
go (is) going went (have) gone
graduate (is) graduating graduated (have) graduated
know (is) knowing knew (have) known
walk (is) walking walk (have) walked
write (is) writing wrote (have) written

Forming the Past Tense
Regular & Irregular

There are two types of past simple verbs.

1. Regular past simple verbs are those that add either a -d or -ed to the present tense form to create the past tense form.
The children skipped past the door.

We walked along the beach.
2. Irregular past simple verbs are those that don't add -d or -ed to the present tense form to create the past tense form.
The children wrote to their grandmother.

My sister drank all of the milk.

Let's learn more about these two!

Regular Past Tense Verbs

Regular verbs are so nice and predictable. It's easy to remember how to create the past tense of these verbs because they follow a pattern. They add either -d or -ed to the present tense form to make the past tense form.
Present Tense + -d or -ed arrow Past Tense
walk + -ed arrow walked
pick + -ed arrow picked
move + -d arrow moved
push + -ed arrow pushed

Irregular Past Tense Verbs

Irregular verbs are just what they sound like. They are not regular. They don't end in -d or -ed in their past tense. In fact, they don't end in anything in particular. That can make it hard to remember how to form their past tense. When in doubt, look it up in the dictionary!
Present Tense + ? arrow Past Tense
drive + ? arrow drove
eat + ? arrow ate
have + ? arrow had
begin + ? arrow began
break + ? arrow broke
steal + ? arrow stole
cost + ? arrow cost
regular verbs

What Are the Other Verb Tenses?

English verbs have six different verb tenses, and they are broken up into two different groups.

Simple Tenses

There are three simple tenses. These are your basic, run-of-the-mill tenses.

1. Present Simple My brother knows the answer.

2. Past Simple My brother knew the answer.

3. Future Simple My brother will know the answer.

Perfect Tenses

There are three perfect tenses. These three tenses are all formed using the helping verbs have, has, had, will, and shall along with the past participle of the verb.

1. Present Perfect My brother has known the answer.

2. Past Perfect My brother had known the answer.

3. Future Perfect My brother will have known the answer.

You can learn more about verb tenses here or you can use these stories and exercises to learn more.

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After earning a B.S. degree in Elementary Education at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, she spent four years teaching grammar, literature, and writing. Since 2009, she’s been developing grammar programs and leading social media communities as part of her mission to revive grammar instruction.

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