Regular past tense verbs all follow the same pattern to refer to actions already accomplished.
Simple Past tense regular forms
As should be expected, English has many irregular forms in the past tense.
The forms are all the same for all six pronouns (“I,” “you” [singular], “he/she/it,” “we,” “you” [plural], and “they”).
The past tense refers to something that happened and was completed before now.
Regular verbs simply add “-ed” to the verb.
This is the most common form in most narratives.
- walk >> walked
- learn >> learned
- paint >> painted
- climb >> climbed
- work >> worked
- laugh >> laughed
Add only “-d” if the verb ends in a single consonant followed by a silent “e.”
- bake >> baked
- share >> shared
- love >> loved
- survive >> survived
- poke >> poked
- phone >> phoned
Add “-ed” for the past:
- Yesterday my mother walked three miles in the rain.
- Then she worked very hard in the kitchen.
- My sister painted my picture with her crayons.
Add only “-d” to a silent “e”:
- Three children baked a cake for Dad’s birthday party.
- The kitchen survived the process, even the flour fight.
- Dad loved the cake.
- Last week my mother did not walk at all.
- Last week my mother didn’t walk at all.
- Then she did not work in the kitchen; she dusted the furniture.
- Then she didn’t work in the kitchen; she dusted the furniture.
- Dad did not like the mess the children created in the kitchen.
- Dad didn’t like the mess the children created in the kitchen.
The past progressive/continuous (“was walking”) focuses on the continuing process completed in the past.
For regular verbs, the participle is simply the verb plus “-ing.”
The verb itself does not change forms, but the helping verb does, from singular to plural. (Grammatically, “you” is always considered plural, even in the singular column, referring to only one person.)
Examples of past progressive:
- I was walking
- You were walking
- He/she/it was walking
- We were walking
- You were walking
- They were walking
Examples of present participles:
- lift >> lifting
- stay >> staying
- listen >> listening
- pretend >> pretending
Verbs that end in a single consonant plus a final “e” drop the “e” to form the participle.
The verb “to be” is irregular, of course.
- I was smiling
- You were lifting
- He/she/it was listening
- We were writing
- You were baking
- They were staying
- Mother was smiling as the children were making a big mess.
- Father was frowning but he was pretending not to be angry.
- The children were having fun while the cake was baking.
- The cake was not baking because the oven was off.
- The cake wasn’t baking because the oven was off.
- The children were not wanting to clean up the kitchen.
- The children weren’t wanting to clean up the kitchen.
- Father was not going to help them.
- Father wasn’t going to help them.
The past perfect uses “had,” narrating something in the past, something continuing (but now completed) or something repeated (but now completed).
The past perfect is used to refer to an action continued or repeated and completed in the past, such time not being specified or named.
Examples of regular past participles:
- lift >> lifted
- stay >> stayed
- listen >> listened
- pretend >> pretended
Verbs ending in a single consonant plus a final “e” drop the “e” to form the participle or simply add “-d,” not doubling the “e.”
- I had liked
- You had smiled
- He/she/it had baked
- We had related
- You had promised
- They had paced
- Dad liked the cake even though it had baked too long in the oven.
- Mother had promised to let the children do it all by themselves.
- We had paced out in the living room the whole time.
- I had learned much about verbs by the time I finished this blog (or is a blog ever finished?).
- You had changed since I had seen you last.
- The golden sun had moved across the blue sky.
- My brother had learned fifteen of the twenty spelling words.
- We had watched the ditch diggers every day that week, and it was only Wednesday.
- Elizabeth and Hannah had listened to many chapters while driving to and from work.
- I had not trained my horse to jump fences yet.
- I hadn’t trained my horse to jump fences yet.
- The moon had not eclipsed the sun, but we were waiting.
- The moon hadn’t eclipsed the sun, but we were waiting.
- We had not spent all our money, but we were trying.
- We hadn’t spent all our money, but we were trying.
It uses the verb “to have” (in the past tense, “had”), the past participle form of the verb “to be” (“been”), and the present participle (“-ing”) form of the primary verb.
The action was either continuous or constantly repeated, but it stopped sometime in the past.
- I had been walking
- You had been speaking
- He/she/it had been going
- We had been looking
- You had been baking
- They had been smiling
- I had been training my horse to jump fences until he jumped out of the pasture.
- You had been baking the pies, but your sister took over.
- The moon had been eclipsing the sun when the sun set!
- I had not been training my horse to jump fences before he jumped out of the pasture.
- I hadn’t been training my horse to jump fences before he jumped out of the pasture.
- You had not been baking the pies, so your sister took over.
- You hadn’t been baking the pies, so your sister took over.
- We had not been spending all our money as tourists, so we had some left.
- We hadn’t been spending all our money as tourists, so we had some left.