The Past Tense l Explanation, Examples & Worksheet
The past tense is a verb tense used to talk about past actions, states of being, or events.
There are four past tense forms: the past simple (e.g., “you cooked”), the past progressive (e.g., “he was singing”), the past perfect (e.g., “I had arrived”), and the past perfect progressive (e.g., “They had been driving”).
The simple past tense is used to talk about actions or events that were completed in the past.
The simple past of regular verbs is formed by adding “-ed” to the end of the infinitive form (e.g., “cook” becomes “cooked”). The past tense of irregular verbs don’t follow a particular pattern and can be formed in various ways (e.g., “sing” becomes “sang”).
Most verbs in the simple past don’t change form depending on the subject. One exception is the irregular verb “be”, which is conjugated as either “was” or “were”, depending on the subject.
The past progressive is used to refer to an action or event that was taking place at a time in the past. It can be used to indicate that an ongoing past action was interrupted by another action or that two past actions were occurring at the same time.
The past progressive is formed using the past tense of “be” (i.e., “was/were”) along with the present participle (“-ing” form) of the main verb.
The past perfect is used to indicate that a past action or event took place prior to another past action or event. It can also be used in conditional sentences to talk about a hypothetical past event.
The past perfect is formed using the auxiliary verb “had” and the past participle of the main verb.
Past perfect progressive
The past perfect progressive is used to indicate that an action began in the past and continued up until another time in the past.
The past perfect progressive is formed by adding the auxiliary verbs “had” and “been” before the present participle of the main verb.
Worksheet: Past tense
Practise using the past tense correctly with the exercises below. In the blank space in each sentence, fill in the correct past tense form based on the verb specified.
Frequently asked questions about the past tense
- What is the past tense of “lead”?
The past tense form of “lead” is “led”. It’s used to describe a past action (e.g., “The coach led his team to the championship”).
The past participle of “lead” is also “led” (e.g., “He had led the team as far as he could”).
- What is the past tense of “lay”?
The past tense form of “lay” is “laid”. It’s used to describe a past action (e.g., “I laid the book down on the table”).
The past participle of “lay” is also “laid” (e.g., “I had just laid the book down when the phone rang”).
- What is the past tense of “choose”?
The past tense form of “choose” is “chose”. It’s used to describe a past action (e.g., “Ava chose to study science”).
The past participle of “choose” is “chosen” (e.g., “We had just chosen a dessert when the waiter told us the kitchen was closed for the evening”).
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