In the Past
Use the past simple for activities which took place at a specified time in the past. This specific time is often stated through the use of a time expression such as 'ago'. However, the past simple is also used when the past time is understood from the context. All subjects take the same conjugation of the verb in the positive form. Negative and questions take the auxiliary verb 'did'. Regular verbs end in '-ed'.
visit - visited
want - wanted
Irregular verbs have various forms that must be memorized. There are often patterns that can be memorized, but there are no specific rules.
buy - bought
have - had
Did Sally double check the overhead costs before approving the business plan?
The title company took their audit five months ago.
Before I retired, I didn't have much non-taxable income.
I got my deferred revenue payment two years ago.
Subject + past conjugation + (object(s)) + time expression
The assistant finance manager separated the assets and liabilities as requested by the finance manager.
Subject + did + not + verb + (object(s)) + time expression
The taxpayer did not have an itemized statement to support his charitable contributions.
(Question Word) + did + subject + verb + (object(s)) + time expression?
Was the IRA base rate different than last month?
The past form of regular verbs ends in '-ed'. Irregular verbs must be studied individually. Here is a list of some of the most common irregular verbs.
Time Expressions Often Used in the Past
last - Use when speaking about the previous week, month or year
yesterday - Use when speaking about the previous day
ago - Use when speaking about X days, weeks, months, years before the present moment in time. 'Ago' always follows the number of days, weeks, months or years
in - Use when specifying years or months
when - Use in combination with another clause
Example:The title company took their audit five months ago. The bank balance exceeded the maximum allotted threshold last week. I got my deferred revenue payment two years ago.
We received the statement of deferred revenue last week.