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Simple Past Tense #3, by Dennis Oliver

 

Simple Past Tense #3

 

In English, the simple past tense is used for finished
actions or situations that began and ended before
now. There are three ways to make simple past tense.
One way is what happens with the verb be: am and
is change to was and are changes to were. A second
way is what happens with regular verbs: most regular
verbs add - d or - ed to the base (simple) form, but
some verbs ending in y change i and then add - ed.

The third way is for irregular verbs.

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The Simple Past: Irregular Verbs

 

Irregular verbs do not make their past tense by adding
- d or - ed or by changing y to i and adding ed. Instead,
they make their past forms in several ways:

1.  

For some irregular verbs, the simple and past
forms are the same. Here are a few examples:

Simple

beat
bet
burst
cost
cut
hit
hurt
let
put
set

 

Past

beat
bet
burst
cost
cut
hit
hurt
let
put
set

     
2.  

For many irregular verbs, the simple and
past forms have different vowels. Here
are a few examples:

Simple

arise
become
begin
break
choose
dig
draw
eat
fall
feed
find
fly
forget
freeze
get
give
hide
hold
know
lead
lie
meet
ride
ring
rise
take
tear
weave

 

Past

arose
became
began
broke
chose
dug
drew
ate
fell
fed
found
flew
forgot
froze
got
gave
hid
held
knew
led
lay
met
rode
rang
rose
took
tore
wove

     
3.  

For many irregular verbs, the simple verb
and the past form have different endings
(and often different vowels):

Simple

bend
bring
build
buy
catch
creep
do (does)
feel
have (has)
lose
make
mean
pay
say
seek
sleep
spend
stand
teach
tell
think

 

Past

bent
brought
built
bought
caught
crept
did
felt
had
lost
made
meant
paid
said
sought
slept
spent
stood
taught
told
thought

     
4.  

A few irregular verbs have more than one
past form. Here are a few examples:

Simple

dream
fit
kneel
leap
light
shine
speed
spit
wake

 

Past

dreamed, dreamt
fit, fitted
knelt, kneeled
leaped, leapt
lit, lighted
shone, shined
sped, speeded
spit, spat
woke, waked

     
5.  

For a few irregular verbs, one past form
tends is more common in American English
and a different one is more common in
British English:

Verb

burn
lean
learn
smell
spoil

 

American

burned
leaned
learned
smelled
spoiled

 

 British

burnt
leant
learnt
smelt
spoilt

     
6.  

The common irregular verb go has a completely
different past form:

Simple

go

 

Past

went

   

____________________________________________

 

Special Notes:


1.
 


The simple and past forms of
read have the same
spelling, but they are pronounced differently:

simple: read (pronounced the same as reed)
past: read (pronounced the same as red)

     
2.   There are no easy rules to help you learn the past
forms for irregular verbs quickly. Unfortunately,
you will have to memorize them!

 

To see an excellent online collection of irregular verbs
(with past participles as well as past forms), see this
Irregular Verb List from Georgia State University.

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Next: more on simple past tense
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