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
What philanthropy programs did they develop?
They dedicated themselves to reaching out to the indigenous population seventeen years ago.
He altered his political position in order to fit with public opinion six years ago.
They examined the areas of conflict six months ago.
Subject + past conjugation + (object(s)) + time expression
Jason circulated a new petition last week.
Subject + did + not + verb + (object(s)) + time expression
Charles didn't enjoy the development phase.
(Question Word) + did + subject + verb + (object(s)) + time expression?
Where did the affected population flee to after the nuclear accident last March?
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:We adjusted the balance sheets in order to cover losses last quarter. They achieved the positive political outcome they sought six weeks ago. We devised the investment strategies that add value to our agency endowment program six years ago. They examined the areas of conflict six months ago.