The Past Simple formula is:
[for irregular verbs]
The regular past form is made by adding
-ed to the infinitive:
look >> looked
Irregular past forms must be learnt by heart:
know >> knew
rise >> rose
The past simple indicates an action which happened, or a state which existed, at
a time in the past. The time reference is given or understood from the context:
went back to it a few years ago.
The name of the house
Some examples of adverbials used to refer to past time
a week ago
at the end of the last century
earlier this month
when I was a child
You can express past habits with the past simple and an adverbial
such as always or twice a week:
delicious chocolate cake.
My grandmother baked bread
twice a week.
You can also use the structures used
to + infinitive or would/'d + infinitive:
used to make ice cream and we'd eat it in
These forms show that something happened regularly
in the past, but that it no longer happens. Please, remember that would is
more common in written than in spoken English.
The Past Progressive (also Past
Continuous) formula is:
was / were +
but she left all the same.
Grandma was baking
a coffee cake.
The past progressive indicates an action in progress at a particular time in the
past. It suggests that the action was temporary and incomplete:
working abroad at the time.
Often the past progressive action is
interrupted by another action; the past simple is used
for the interrupting action:
was picking and
eating the strawberries in the garden when my
to the window and
told me to stop.
The past progressive also indicates background in a
All the furniture
was wearing clothes.
It was snowing. Night
was falling. Johnny walked to the
He was waiting for someone
The Past Perfect Simple formula is:
The past perfect indicates an action that happened, or a state that existed, at
some time before another action or state in the past:
Laura went back to it a few years ago and
she had the feeling that the house
had shrunk; it
had become smaller.