Simple Past Tense Rules, Examples & Structure (Past Indefinite Tense)

Simple Past Tense Rules and Examples with Sentence Structure (Past Indefinite Tense). What is simple past tense? Know the meaning and examples of the simple past tense.  A simple past tense is a form of the verb that is used to express past actions. We use the second form of the verb (past form) to make simple statements. See the definition and sentences of simple past tense;

What is Simple Past Tense?

The simple past tense is used to express the action that happened in the past. It means that the action ended in the past. The simple past tense can be used for actions that happened quickly, happened over time, or actions that were the habits in the past.


  1. She arrived at the station at three.
  2. Jack worked on this project for two hours.
  3. That little girl sang a beautiful song yesterday.
  4. When he was five, he watched the movie every day.
  5. She didn’t play hockey in school, but he played it a lot in Highschool.
  6. Did you contact him last week?
  7. I didn’t sleep well last night.

Note: According to the above sentences, it is clear that we use the simple past tense if an action took place in the past. In the above sentences, the underlined words are showing that the action of the past.

  • The first, second, and third sentences express that the action happened in the past.
  • In the fourth and fifth sentences, the habit is being referred to.
  • In the sixth sentence, It is being asked if the action happened in the past.
  • In the last sentence, the action didn’t happen in the past.

You may read the examples of all tenses like the present, past, and future tense.

Simple Past Tense Rules, Examples & Structure (Past Indefinite Tense)
Simple Past Tense Rules, Examples & Structure (Past Indefinite Tense)

Simple Past Tense – Examples and Rules

A simple past tense is a form of a verb that expresses the past actions of a person or thing. The statements are made by using the past tense form of the verb (-ed) or irregular past form. Negative and Interrogative Sentences are made by using the base form of the verb with the auxiliary verb ‘did’.

How to make sentences of the Simple Past Tense?

Rule – 1 To make the affirmative sentences of simple past tense, we used the verb II (past tense form) with the singular and plural subject.

Rule – 2 We don’t use the auxiliary verb (helping verb) ‘did’ in simple sentences.

Rule – 3 In the negative and interrogative sentences, We don’t use the verb II with the subjects. The base form of the verb is used.


Affirmative Negative Questions
He ran. He did not run. Did he run?
She played. She did not play. Did she play?
It rained. It did not rain. Did it rain?
Tom slept. Tom did not sleep. Did Tom sleep?
I went. I did not go. Did I go?
We sang. We did not sing? Did we sing?
You came. You did not come. Did you come?
They said. They did not say. Did they say?


  1. I met my friend yesterday.
  2. Jack and Jill wished me my marriage anniversary.
  3. He worked for five years in this company before working at Samsung.
  4. My sisters studied French when they were young.
  5. She went to the market and bought a new umbrella for her kids.
  6. Yesterday I saw a thief while I was riding my bicycle.
  7. He didn’t find my house yesterday.
  8. We worked hard to become a doctor.
  9. Some people didn’t understand what I was saying.
  10. Did you see Catherine at the park?
  11. Her kids did not eat their breakfast in the morning today.
  12. Did they win the final match yesterday?
  13. What did you buy from eBay?
  14. Where did she meet her friend last week?
  15. George Washington didn’t study in this college.
  16. The teacher said that he might not come yesterday.
  17. Did they use their mobile phones at the airport?
  18. Who wrote this poem?
  19. I never received his letter in my life.
  20. When I was ten, I used to swim in the swimming pool.

Explanation: The above examples of simple past tense show the actions that happened in the past, habits of the past, and other actions that happened quickly. The adverbs of time have been used in the above sentences.

Examples of Simple Past Tense

Examples of Simple Past Tense (Past Indefinite Tense)
Examples of Simple Past Tense (Past Indefinite Tense)

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Use of Simple Past Tense

The simple past tense is used to describe past actions. We use the past tense to denote most past actions. As it has been explained earlier, if an action happened in the past, we can use the simple past tense. It has different meanings and uses. It is also called the Past Indefinite Tense. Let’s read its use and meaning below:

To express past actions

We use the simple past tense is to express an action ended in the past with reference to the time of speaking.


  1. He bought red flowers yesterday.
  2. I talked to your teacher last week.
  3. A man asked me the address of the University today.
  4. Her mother went to the mall to buy groceries this morning.
  5. Last month I visited Paris with my wife.

To express the Past Habits and repeated actions

The simple past tense is used to express the past habits of a person. It is also used to describe regular or repeated actions in the past.


  1. I visited my Uncle’s office every year.
  2. When I was young, I always tried to jump into the sea.
  3. She always wished me my birthday every year.
  4. They used to smoke when they were young.
  5. The people used to go on foot in ancient times.

Particular Point in the Past

  1. Thomas Knoll invented Photoshop.
  2. Edition invented the electric bulb.
  3. India got freedom in 1947.
  4. He built this house in 2002.
  5. He met his father on his birthday.

To express period of time

We use the simple past tense to express an action that occupied a period of time in the past, but has ended now;


  1. He played for two hours.
  2. They didn’t sleep for an hour.
  3. The shopkeeper kept his shop closed for thirty minutes.
  4. I waited for you for five minutes.
  5. She watched the movie for five hours.

To express two actions at the same time

We use the simple past tense to express an action going on at the time stated or during the occurrence of another longer action.


  1. While I spoke the sentences of past tense, my students wrote.
  2. The girl drove her car as we enjoyed the scene.
  3. She was writing a letter when I contacted her.
  4. I was sleeping when they reached my house.
  5. While the kids played, I cooked something in the kitchen.

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Simple Past Tense of the Verb ‘To Be’

The forms of the verb ‘to be’ are used in the simple past tense. ‘Was and Were’ are the forms of the verb to be. These words are used in the simple past tense.


  1. Was‘ is used with the singular subjects (nouns and pronouns). It is the past form of the verb am and is.
  2. ‘Were’ is used with plural subjects (nouns and pronouns). It is the past form of the verb are.


Was Were
I was there.  We were at the park.
He was my friend. You were able to run.
She was here. They were hockey players.
It was a red light. The shopkeepers were on strike.
She was ill yesterday. The men were angry.
The boy was on the bus. The people beat him.
I was late yesterday. She and I were busy.
She was free. The newspapers were old.
My kite was red. They were in the classroom.

Note: We can form negative and interrogative sentences using the forms ‘to be’ according to the sentence structure given below.

Negative Sentences: Subject + was/were + not + noun/adjective + other words


  1. The man was not able to walk.
  2. She was not busy.
  3. You were not angry.
  4. It was not cold two days ago.
  5. She was not asleep when I came.

Interrogative Sentences:

Yes-No Type Questions: /were + subject + noun/adjective + others words?


  1. Was I with you?
  2. Were you free yesterday?
  3. Was Jack at the beach?
  4. Were they angry with you?
  5. Was the price of this dress high?

Wh-word Type Questions: Wh-word + was/were + subject + noun/adjective + others words?


  1. Why was she sad yesterday?
  2. Who was Abraham Lincoln?
  3. When were you born?
  4. Who was the first president of the agency?
  5. Where were you last night?

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Simple/Affirmative Sentences with Structure

Affirmative Sentences of Simple Past Tense are made using subject, verb, and object. The simple sentences express that something happened and it was in our knowledge. The structure of affirmative sentences of the simple past tense is very easy to understand.

Sentence Structure: Subject + verb II (past participle) + object + other words


  1. The thief stole my purse in the market.
  2. Our gardener watered the plants of the garden.
  3. He laughed when I showed her this funny picture.
  4. My kids went to school on foot yesterday.
  5. The shopkeeper gave me an old product.
  6. The plane took off thirty minutes ago.
  7. I opened the door of the room and saw a cat sitting under the table.
  8. My mom closed the door of my room.
  9. She told a lie.
  10. Mr. Smith lived in that house for three years.
  11. The child smiled when I saw him.
  12. The boys laughed at each other in the classroom.
  13. Our CEO employed two men ten days ago.
  14. The teacher refused them admission yesterday.
  15. Jack carried his car to the college.
  16. The police stopped us when we reached there.
  17. My mom helped me with homework last week.
  18. Tom whitewashed the fence with his friends.
  19. Shakespeare wrote many novels.
  20. My mother cried when I plucked a flower.

Negative Sentences with Structure

Negative Sentences/Statements are made using ‘did not + base form. We don’t use the verb II in the Negative Sentences. The base form of the verb is used in place verb II (past form) in the sentences.

Note: We can use ‘did not’ or ‘didn’t’ in the Negative Sentences.

Structure: Subject + Didn’t/Did not + Verb I + Object + Other Words


  1. I didn’t understand what you said.
  2. The boy did not use his car yesterday.
  3. I did not want to travel last week.
  4. She didn’t do anything in the office.
  5. I didn’t buy anything from the store because I was busy.
  6. Jason didn’t how to get there.
  7. Yesterday she didn’t get up at 5 o’clock.
  8. The man did not show his identity card.
  9. My mother did not let me attend the party.
  10. We were late. So we didn’t go to the cinema.
  11. She didn’t get a bus tonight.
  12. They didn’t buy new brand car 2 months ago.
  13. The king did not accept his proposal.
  14. It wasn’t very hot in the morning.
  15. It didn’t rain in our yesterday.
  16. Pierre was not a computer programmer.
  17. I was not born in 1990.
  18. My friend didn’t understand what I say.
  19. I didn’t visit Australia in 2021.
  20. She won the lottery ticket this weekend.

Note: Some negative sentences can be made without using ‘did not’ or ‘didn’t’. We can use negative words or adverbs in the sentences. Let’s observe the examples below:


  1. He knew nothing.
  2. No one called him yesterday.
  3. Nobody opened the door.
  4. No one visited this store.
  5. When I went to her, she was doing nothing.

Interrogative Sentences

The interrogative sentences of simple past tense are formed in two ways; Yes-No Type and Wh-word Type Questions.

Yes-No Type Wh-word Type
Did you read it? What did you see?
Did they use it? Where did she come?
Did we miss her? Who came here?

Note: A yes-no type question starts with an auxiliary verb or helping verb ‘did’ and a wh-word type question starts with a question word as given in the above examples.

Yes-No Type Interrogative Sentences

Learn how to make yes-no-type questions. These questions start with ‘did’. To make yes-no type sentences, follow the sentence structure given below:

Structure: Did + Subject + Verb I + Object + Other Words?


  1. Did you see him last night?
  2. Did they play well with us?
  3. Did we miss our train last week?
  4. Did he buy a red car two days ago?
  5. Did Jack open his store at 8 o’clock?
  6. Did they use this link for registration?
  7. Did your father say it to you?
  8. Did the children ask you something yesterday?
  9. Did we sing the right song at the party?
  10. Did the narrator tell you that story?
  11. Did I take your car to the garage two days ago?
  12. Did you sleep well last night?
  13. Did the writer meet you when you reach the concert?
  14. Did we miss an opportunity to work with you?
  15. Did Maria buy a red frock for her daughter?
  16. Did your children go to school yesterday?
  17. Did Bill get his money back from the thief?
  18. Did your father beat your brother today?
  19. Did your teacher ask a question yesterday?
  20. Did he knock at the door two hours ago?

Wh-word Type Interrogative Sentences

Wh-word Type Interrogative Sentences of Simple Past Tense are made using the questions words like what, where, when, whom, etc. Follow the sentence structure given below:

Structure: Question word + did + subject + verb I + object + other words + ?


  1. What did she get yesterday?
  2. Where did you meet your father?
  3. Who stole your purse?
  4. Whom did you want to invite today on Monday?
  5. What did Jack steal from the market this morning?
  6. How much food did he buy from the market?
  7. Where did your family go yesterday last year?
  8. What happened there last week?
  9. Who did this?
  10. Why did we miss the opportunity last night?
  11. Whom did you invite to the party?
  12. Why did Amy want to meet her friend two hours ago?
  13. Who advised you to take admission to the University of California?
  14. How many cups of coffee did she drink?
  15. How far did you walk on foot?
  16. Who cut your tree in the garden?
  17. What did the police do with the thieves last night?
  18. Why did they go home after the party?
  19. By which train did you travel to your city?
  20. When did they reach the station?

Interrogative Negative Sentences

Interrogative Negative Sentences are formed by putting ‘not’ after the subject of the sentence. Let’s see the sentence structure given below.


Question word + did + subject + not + verb I + object + other words + ?


  1. Did you not come here last night?
  2. What did the narrator not tell us in the story?
  3. Did the bankers not go on strike?
  4. Who did not bring his lunch?
  5. Did the children not wake up?
  6. Did Alison not give you your books?
  7. Why did you not sing when I came?
  8. Whom did we not see at the airport yesterday?
  9. Did your father not pay your school fee?
  10. Did you not wear a hat last day?

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Examples of Past Indefinite Tense (Simple Past Tense)

    1. Mr. Smith was born in Australia in 1990.
    2. When I was six, my parents visited New York.
    3. Our family lived in Dubai for two months.
    4. She left college five years ago.
    5. My dad worked on a farm for three years.
    6. I was free yesterday.
    7. She found a luxurious flat on her own last year.
    8. We played cricket for three hours.
    9. What did you do at six o’clock yesterday?
    10. Was she angry with you?
    11. I arrived at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
    12. On Monday evening, we went to a theatre.
    13. She had an accident last week.
    14. It happened at seven o’clock.
    15. When I was having lunch, a boy broke the chair.
    16. We were not able to run.
    17. I was thinking of you when you came to me.
    18. While she was serving the food, her kid broke the plate.
    19. The policeman shot a criminal last night.
    20. Mom bought a yellow dress from the market.
    21. The employees decided to have a cup of coffee.
    22. I was thinking about you guys yesterday.
    23. My friend was talking to me while I was preparing coffee for him.
    24. Did you not notice anything?
    25. Yesterday my car broke down on the road.

Watch the video on the simple past tense for more details;


In this post you have read about the simple past tense (past indefinite tense) with rules and examples. It is the first part of the past tense. When someone learns the past tense, he has to learn all the parts of past tense. You must be careful while using the simple past tense. You should remember all the adverbs of time which are used with tense. Don’t use the adverbs that are used with the present tense.

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