Category: Grammar

Past simple tense

PAST SIMPLE

Past simple tense – also called simple past, the simple past or past indefinite – represents one of the basic verb forms in English. It is used to describe actions and situations that happened in the past. They began and finished in the past and do not have a direct correlation to present. Usually an exact point of time in the past is set (stated in the sentence directly or understood from the context).

Past simple is typical in storytelling to express the sequence of actions.

The speaker is focused on facts or actions themselves (simple actions – hence the name past simple) rather than on detailed description of the situation or the activity process (past continuous).

Let’s take a look at past simple in more details now.
You will find out how to form positive and negative sentences (Affirmatives and Negatives) and questions (Interrogatives) in Past Simple. You will learn more on the situations when the tense is used. You will see a lot examples, overviews, useful tips and common mistakes corrections, as well as comparisons with other tenses, e.g. Past, Past Perfect or Present Perfect tenses.

Remember to test and practice your knowledge in our free tests below – we have prepared a lot of them for you.

PAST SIMPLE USE

Past simple tense is used to express:

1. actions and situations finished in the past.
• We played volleyball yesterday. (yesterday = finished in the past)
• John went for a hike last weekend. (last weekend = finished in the past)
• I visited London a few years ago. (a few years ago = finished in the past)
• Ernest Hemingway wrote many interesting novels. (Hemingway will not write any more novels = finished in the past)

2. repeated actions or situations in the past (= habits).
• I worked at the farm last summer. (i.e. I don’t work there now)
• Mary watched TV on Monday evenings. (i.e. she doesn’t do it now)

NOTE:
For past habits to stress that the activity was performed repeatedly, also use “used to” + verb.

Examples:
• I used to help out at my uncle’s farm in summer.
• Mary used to watch TV on Monday evenings.

3. consequent actions in a story.
• She got up early that morning. She went to the kitchen straight away and made herself a coffee. Then she rushed into the bathroom.




HINT
Past simple is often used together with the expressions that suggest that the action is finished in the past, e.g.:

yesterday, last week, last year, in the morning (when it is not morning any more), a year ago etc.

PAST SIMPLE FORMS

a/ Affirmative:
Affirmative (positive sentence) in past simple has the same form for all persons in singular and plural.
The only exception to this rule is the verb “to be”, where past simple form varies with persons (see more on the form of “to be” in past simple further in this article).

Regular verbs: For most of the verbs (so called regular verbs), affirmative is formed regularly from the infinitive by adding “ed” / “d” at the end of the verb (e.g. to learn → I learned):
• I worked too much this week.
• They lived in a small town.
• I studied at this University.

Irregular verbs: Some verbs, though, are an exception to the rule above and they form affirmative irregularly. You simply have to memorize these irregular verbs and learn their forms in past simple.

Examples of irregular verbs:

VERB PAST SIMPLE
to be was / were
to have had
to do did
to make made
to see saw
to write wrote
to give gave
to hold held
to write wrote
Here is the list of frequently used irregular verbs and their forms »

Examples of sentence with irregular verbs:
• W.A. Mozart was a famous Austrian composer. (infinitive = to be)
• Peter did a lot of work on this project. (infinitive = to do)
• We bought this house a long time ago. (infinitive = to buy)
• Jane spent a lot of money last week. (infinitive = to spend)
• Helen wrote an e-book about paleo diet. (infinitive = to write)
• President gave a speech about the State of the Union. (infinitive = to give)

b/ Negative:
We form negatives in past simple by the adding the auxiliary verb did / didn’t before the main verb in its basic form. Again, the form stays the same in all the persons (with the exception of the verb “to be” which is explained later on). The above applies for both regular and irregular verbs.
(regular: we watched → we didn’t watched)
(irregular: they caught → they did not catch)

Examples:
• I didn’t drive the car that night.
• They didn’t know what to do.
• John did not return on time.

c/ Interrogative (questions):
The auxiliary verb did are used to create questions in past simple, however the word order needs to be changed so that the auxiliary verb comes first. Remember to change the main verb back to its basic form for both regular and irregular verbs.
(regular: we watcheddid we watched?)
(irregular: they caughtdid they catch?)

Examples:
Did you really ask for that?
Did your mother know about it?

d/ Negative questions:
In negative questions in past simple the auxiliary verb in negative (did not / didn’t) is used either in short or the long form as follows:
Didn’t you recognize him at once? (short form)
Did they not like the party? (long form)


Overview: Regular verbs in past simple form – Affirmative, Negative and Interrogative

Here is a brief overview of regular verb forms in past simple. The verb to work will serve as an example.

AFFIRMATIVE NEGATIVE QUESTION
I worked I didn’t work Did I work?
You worked You didn’t work Did you work?
He/she/it worked He/she/it didn’t work Did he/she/it work?
We worked We didn’t work Did we work?
You worked You didn’t work Did you work?
They worked They didn’t work Did they work?
NOTE & REMEMBER
Be careful to avoid the common mistake in negative sentences and questions in Past Simple – not not changing the main verb into its basic form.

Common mistakes:
Incorrect: Did she told you the thruth? Correct: Did she tell you the truth?
Incorrect: She didn’t told me the truth. Correct: She didn’t tell me the truth..

Prepositions EXCEPT (FOR), BESIDES, APART FROM

PREPOSITIONS EXCEPT (EXCEPT FOR), BESIDES, APART FROM

These four prepositions are used in English sentences for similar purpose, but each of them has a slightly specific meaning. In particular context, we should use the correct preposition, so let’s dive right in and let’s take a look at the differences.

A. WHEN WE CAN USE BOTH EXCEPT AND EXCEPT FOR:

With EXCEPT or EXCEPT FOR we express exception, which does not include what was mentioned in the main clause. It means that we exclude one option. In many cases EXCEPT and EXCEPT FOR can be used interchangeably. It is usually possible in sentences that include the following words:

everybody, everyone, everything, nobody, nothing, anybody, anything, all, whole and so on.

Examples:
Everyone passed the exam except (for) Frank.
All devices were totally damaged except (for) the smartphone.
• I eat everything except (for) pizza.


B. WHEN WE SHOULD USE EXCEPT:

We use EXCEPT if there is an infinitive, preposition or conjunction after EXCEPT.

Examples:
• I had nothing to do except to sleep all day. (Not except for)
• She is very pretty except when she laughs. (Not except for)
• There is a cold weather in northern Canada except in July and August. (Not except for)
• It is fun to drive fast, except (that) it’s illegal. (Not except for)


C. WHEN WE SHOULD USE EXCEPT FOR:

We use EXCEPT FOR in two situations:

1. If the main clause doesn’t contain words like everybody, everyone, everything, anybody, anything, nobody, nothing, all, whole and so on.

Examples:
• The weather was fine, except for the thunderstorm in the evening. (Not except)
• Grandmother is still healthy, except for a little problem with her eyes. (Not except)
• I finished this task except for some minor details. (Not except)

2. If the EXCEPT FOR is used at the beginning of the sentence.

Examples:
Except for Jane, everyone was at the meeting on time. (Not except)
Except for light rain , the trip was very nice. (Not except)


D. WHEN WE SHOULD USE BESIDES:

BESIDES is very similar to prepositions EXCEPT and EXCEPT FOR. So you probably ask what is the difference here?
The difference is that EXCEPT / EXCEPT FOR excludes one case from the set of options, while BESIDES includes (adds) one more case.

Examples:
• All my friends except Peter came to the party. (all showed up -> Peter didn’t come)
Besides Peter, all other friends came too. (not only Peter, but all other showed up too -> Peter came)

NOTE #1
Words BESIDES and BESIDE have very different meaning and are not related. BESIDES means including one more case and BESIDE means next to something.

NOTE #2
If the sentence is negative BESIDES and EXCEPT (FOR) can have the same meaning:

• I don’t watch any sports except for hockey. (I watch only hockey)
• I don‘t watch any sport besides hockey. (I watch only hockey

E. WHEN WE CAN USE APART FROM:

APART FROM has one great feature – it can be used instead of EXCEPT FOR and also instead of BESIDES.

Examples
Apart from (besides) mathematics I like also physics and literature.
• I like all cars apart from (except) Renault.


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Present continuous tense

PRESENT CONTINUOUS

Present continuous tense – also called present progressive or present definite– represents one of the basic verb forms in English. It is used to describe actions and situations that are happening right now (i.e. at the moment of speech). The speaker is focused on detailed description of the situation or on the process (progress) of the activity (hence the name present progressive). If we state simple facts we use present simple, which is described here.

Let’s take a look at present continuous in more detail:
You will find out how to form positive and negative sentences (Affirmatives and Negatives) and questions (Interrogatives) in present continuous. You will learn more details about the situations when the present continuous is used. You will see a lot of examples, overviews, useful tips and common mistakes, as well as comparisons with other tenses, e.g. present simple, present perfect or future simple.

Remember to test and practice your knowledge in our free tests below – we have prepared a lot of them for you.

PRESENT CONTINUOUS USE

We use present continuous to express:

1. actions that are happening right now (at the moment of speech).
• Please, call me later, I am driving.
• Look out of the window, it’s raining.

2. actions happening around now but not necessarily at the moment of speech, usually long-term and repeated ones.
• He is working on an interesting project.
• They want to Britain, so they are learning English.

3. temporary / exceptional actions.
• Mr Jones is a teacher here, but today he is having a day off.
• Sarah is a waiter, she is only helping out in the kitchen now.
• He is a trustworthy person but he is clearly lying now.

4. fixed future arrangements.
• When are you leaving for vacation?
• I am not coming to the party tonight.


PRESENT CONTINUOUS FORM

a/ Affirmative:
Present continuous has two parts: the verb to be in present tense + present participle of the main verb ( “-ing” form).

Present participle = infinitive + “ing” at the end: to eat – > eating; to wait -> waiting; to sleep – > sleeping
Examples:
• The baby is sleeping.
• We are having a good time.

b/ Negative:
Negative sentences are formed by putting the verb to be into negative:
• I am not talking to you!
• We are not going home yet.

NOTE & REMEMBER #1
“I amn’t….” in the first person of singular is incorrect. Only the following forms exist:
“I am not…..” / “I’m not….”

Common mistake
Incorrect: I amn’t joking.Correct: I am not joking / I’m not joking.

c/ Interrogative (question):
To ask a question in present continuous, the verb order has to be changed = the verb to be comes before the personal pronoun:
• What is this man looking at?
• Why are you laughing?

NOTE & REMEMBER #2
A lot of beginners make the mistake of mixing auxiliary verbs for the present simple and present continuous:

Common mistake
Incorrect: Do you playing?Correct: Are you playing? (present continuous) / Do you play? (present simple)

Overview: Present continuous forms – Affirmative, Negative and Interrogative

Let’s have a brief overview of present continuous forms in the table below. The verb to work will serve as an example.

AFFIRMATIVE NEGATIVE QUESTION
I am working I ’m not working Am I working?
You are working You aren’t working Are you working?
He/she/it is working He/she/it isn’t working Is he/she/it working?
We are working We aren’t working Are we working?
You are working You aren’t working Are you working?
They are working They aren’t working Are they working?


PRACTICE Present Continuous form
PRACTICE Present Continuous use / expressing the present / expressing the future

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Present simple tense

PRESENT SIMPLE

Present simple tense – also called simple present or present indefinite – represents one of the basic verb forms in English. It is used to describe actions and situations that happen in present, especially when the speaker is focused on facts or actions themselves (simple actions – hence the name present simple). For detailed description of the situation or the activity process we use present continuous described here.

Let’s take a look at present simple in more detail:
In this article you will find out how to form positive and negative sentences (Affirmatives and Negatives) and questions (Interrogatives) in present simple tense. You will learn more details about the situations when the present simple tense is used. You will see a lot examples, overviews, useful tips and common mistakes corrections, as well as comparisons with other tenses, e.g. present continuous or present perfect.

Remember to test and practice your knowledge in our free tests below – we have prepared a lot of them for you.

PRESENT SIMPLE USE

We use present simple to express:

1. present actions that occur repeatedly or are true for a long time.
• John goes to work by bus.
• I always have breakfast in the morning.
• They live in Paris.

2. general facts or truths.
• The Moon rotates around the Earth..
• My mother has blue eyes.
• The river flows to the sea.

3. present states and conditions.
• I don’t drink.
• I understand Japanese.
• Mary stands by the window.
• They live here.




HINT
Present simple is often used together with adverbs of frequency or expressions of frequency such as:

usually, often, sometimes, always, rarely, never, frequently, every day, generally, seldom, occasionally etc..

EXAMPLES
• Paul often plays this videogame.
• I usually get up at 6 am.
• Mary sometimes listens to jazz.
• I always take a walk after lunch.
• They are always late.
• We rarely spend more than 30 minutes in this shopping center.


PRESENT SIMPLE FORMS

FULL VERBS

a/ Affirmative:
Affirmative (positive sentence) in Present simple is formed from the infinitive by removing “to” (to learn -> I learn):
• I work too much.
• They prefer living in a small town.

In the third person of singular we add “s” / “es”:
• She speaks German fluently.
• He washes the car too often.
• It hurts.

b/ Negative:
Negatives in present simple are formed by adding the auxiliary verb do not / don’t before the full verb:
• I do not know him.
• They don’t drive.

In the third person of singular (he/she/it) we use does not / doesn’t instead of do not / don’t. Make sure that you remove “s”/ “es” from the full verb:
• She doesn’t live here anymore.
• He does not speak German.

c/ Interrogative (questions):
We use the auxiliary verbs do / does to create questions in present simple. However, the word order needs to be changed so that the auxiliary verb comes first:
Do you really need that much time?
Does your mother know about it?

d/ Negative questions:
In negative questions in present simple the auxiliary verb in negative is used either in its short or the long form as follows:
Don’t you recognize me?
Does he not come here anymore?


Overview: Full verbs in present simple form – Affirmative, Negative and Interrogative

Let’s take a brief overview of full verb forms in present simple in the table below. The verb to work will serve as an example.

AFFIRMATIVE NEGATIVE QUESTION
I work I don’t work Do I work?
You work You don’t work Do you work?
He/she/it works He/she/it doesn’t work Does he/she/it work?
We work We don’t work Do we work?
You work You don’t work Do you work?
They work They don’t work Do they work?

NOTE & REMEMBER
The third person of singular always has “s” / “es” at the end and the auxiliary verb changes from do to does. However be careful to avoid the common mistake in negatives and questions. You must remove the “s / es” from the full verb:

Common mistakes:
Incorrect: Does she speaks?Correct: Does she speak?
Incorrect: She doesn’t speaks.Correct: She doesn’t speak.

TO HAVE

Be careful with the verb “to have”. Its form is slightly changed in the third person of singular. We say he/she/it HAS.
• She has such a nice voice.
• Tom has many friends.

Check the table below for a quick overview:

AFFIRMATIVE NEGATIVE QUESTION
I have I don’t have Do I work?
You have You don’t have Do you work?
He/she/it has He/she/it doesn’t have Does he/she/it work?
We have We don’t have Do we work?
You have You don’t have Do you work?
They have They don’t have Do they work?

TO BE

Verb “to be” is an exception with regards to form in present simple. There is a special form for most of the persons and you simply have to memorize them all.
• We are classmates.
• John is rich.

There is no auxiliary verb used with ”to be”, the negatives are made by adding “not” and questions are formed by changing the word order only.

Below is an overview of the forms of the verb “to be” in Present Simple – Affirmative, Negative and Interrogative.

AFFIRMATIVE NEGATIVE QUESTION
I am I’m not Am I?
You are You aren’t Are you?
He/she/it is He/she/it isn’t Is he/she/it?
We are We aren’t Are we?
You are You aren’t Are you?
They are They aren’t Are they?

MODAL VERBS


PRACTICE Present Simple form
PRACTICE Present Simple use / expressing the present

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