Simple Past Tense Rules and Examples (Past Indefinite Tense)


Simple Past Tense Rules, Examples (Past Indefinite Tense) with Exercises are given here in detail. Let’s learn how to make and use Past Indefinite Tense in English Grammar. To describe a past event, we use Past Indefinite Tense. Let’s review the rules and examples.

  • I played yesterday.
  • We bought this product two days ago.
  • He won the yesterday’s match.
  • They met me in the last month.
  • You were beating your child when I came.

Note: You can see that the above sentences contain the verb II with subjects. These verbs tell us that something happened in the past.

Simple Past Tense (Past Indefinite Tense)

The simple past tense is used to denote an action in the past.  This tense is sometimes called the preterit tense. This tense is used mostly to express the past. It is also called the present indefinite tense.

Structure – Subject + Verb II + Object + Other

Helping verb – Did

Main Verb

  • Verb II – in the affirmative sentences.
  • The verb I  – in the negative and interrogative sentences.

How to make sentences Simple Past Tense – Rules and Examples

  1. We use the second form of the verb (past form) in the affirmative sentences.
  2. The first form of the verb is used in the Negative sentences and Interrogative Sentences.
  3. The auxiliary verb ‘Was‘ is used with singular nouns and pronouns.
  4. Were‘ is used with plural nouns and plural pronouns.
Simple Past Tense Rules and Examples (Past Indefinite Tense)
Simple Past Tense Examples with Rules and Structure

Affirmative Sentences

Structure – Subject + verb II + object + other words.


  1. He gave me a book.
  2. She kissed her son.
  3. It rained yesterday.
  4. The boy wrote a letter to his father.
  5. I taught him Urdu.
  6. You ran very fast.
  7. They sang a song two days ago.
  8. I could not run.
  9. We drove our fast.
  10. He did sing. (Emphatic)

Read also:

Affirmative Sentences of Past Form of ‘To Be’


  • He was sad yesterday.
  • She was my friend.
  • It was your book.
  • I was in the park.
  • You were busy last night.
  • We were free.
  • They were my colleagues.
Simple Past Tense Rules and Examples (Past Indefinite Tense)
Simple Past Tense Rules and Examples (Past Indefinite Tense)

Negative Sentences

Structure – Subject + did not + verb I + object + other words


  1. She did not like those shirts.
  2. He did not come to college yesterday.
  3. It didn’t rain two days ago.
  4. Rohan did not work hard last year.
  5. I did not play tennis this morning.
  6. We did not buy cows yesterday.
  7. They did not have a bath in the morning.
  8. You did not build this house in 1987.
  9. People didn’t praise him yesterday.
  10. The girl didn’t beat her younger brother.

Negative Sentences of Past Form of ‘To Be


  1. He was not there.
  2. She was not absent yesterday.
  3. I was not with you tonight.
  4. You were not confused.
  5. They were not thieves.

Interrogative Sentences (Yes-No Type)

Structure – Did + Subject + Verb I + object + other words + ?


  1. Did he clean his room this evening?
  2. Did she invite you the day after yesterday?
  3. Did it rain yesterday?
  4. Did you visit New Delhi last year?
  5. Did they listen to the story from you yesterday?
  6. Did we meet you last Monday?
  7. Did the driver drive the car fast?
  8. Did Nick meet you tonight?
  9. Did the prime minister of your country deliver a speech yesterday?
  10. Did I abuse you?

Yes-No Type Sentences with ‘To be’


  • Was he busy yesterday?
  • Was she with you last night?
  • Were they at home tonight?
  • Were you on a bus in the afternoon?
  • Was I at the bus stop this morning?

Wh-word Type Interrogative Sentences

Structure – Question word + Subject + Verb I + object + other words + ?

Examples –

  1. Who visited you last night?
  2. Where did he go yesterday?
  3. When did you build this house?
  4. What did he do for you last month?
  5. Whom did you invite to the party?
  6. Which novel did he read at night?
  7. Who called you this evening?
  8. Why did the boy eat all the mangoes?
  9. What did they do in the factory?
  10. Where did the children play last night?

Parts of Speech Exercises with answers

Interrogative Sentences with Verb – To Be

  • Where he was today?
  • How was he this evening?
  • Who was he?
  • What was this?
  • Where was your sister?

Interrogative Negative Sentences

In the Interrogative Negative Sentences, we put not after the subject.

Examples – 

  • Did he not discover the new city?
  • Did she not write this novel?
  • Did you not find the maps yesterday?
  • What did he not do this night?
  • Why did the boy not sit there?
  • Who did not come here on Monday?

Read also –

Use of Simple Past Tense (Past Indefinite Tense)

Simple Past Tense (Past Indefinite Tense) is used to express the following;

To describe a past action


  • They went to London yesterday.
  • She sang a song this evening.
  • Last year, I bought this house.
  • I saw the postman on Tuesday.
  • They won the cricket match in 2002.

To describe the past habits

  • I always invited you.
  • Dad went to the park on Sundays.
  • In her childhood, she read this novel.
  • I used to smoke.
  • He sang a song wherever he wanted.
  • James met me on Mondays.
  • She usually came back at 5 p.m.
  • He often helped me in trouble.

Note –

  • Would and used to also used to describe past actions.
  • To express the past habitual actions, we use always, often, usually, daily, everyday/week/month/year, once a month, twice a day, rarely, seldom, etc.

To express the single duration

  • He slept for three hours.
  • I learnt music for five years.
  • They played the match for 45 minutes.
  • Jack lived in the USA for a year.

In Time Clause – Before and After

  • Before I sang a song, I prayed.
  • After she cooked her food, she went to market.
  • She cleaned the room after she ate the food.
  • She opened the book before she sat in the chair.

With It is time, It is high time and It is time about

  • It is high we started opening our bags.
  • It is time the train left the station.

To express When/While in the Time Clauses

  • When he was here, he went to the market with me.
  • When I saw the child, I called him.
  • When my child studies, I slept.
  • When they heard something, they opened the door.
  • When I was ten, I studied with friends.
  • While she read, I cooked the food.

In ‘if clause’

  • If he came to me, I might help him.
  • If my friend invited me, I might go to the party.

To express two actions

  • When I was reading the newspaper, my friend came.
  • They were playing cricket When I saw them.
  • While the cows were grazing in the field, the farmer came.
  • The phone was ringing when I came into the room.

Used in the Past Perfect Tense for Subsequent action –

  • The passengers had arrived before the train left.
  • The patient had died before the doctor came.
  • We sat here after our friends had come.
  • I saw that lion after the hunters had killed him.

See also:

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