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Lesson 24
the past tense - negative

the past tense - negative

To make the past tense negative, add “did” and “not” to the main verb. The main verb remains in the simple form. 


know / knew / known

Affirmative: He knew the answer. (The main verb is in the past tense.) 

Negative: He didn’t know the answer. (The main verb is in the simple form.) 

In spoken English, the contraction “didn’t” combines did and not


The Past Tense in English

Note: If the main verb is the verb “be” (was or were),  you only add “not” to the verb. Lesson Nine shows you how to do that. 

24a. the past tense - negative

Both regular and irregular verbs use “did” + “not.” 

regular verb: work

work / worked / worked 


I didn’t work.

You didn’t work.  

He didn’t work. 

She didn’t work. 

It didn’t work. 


We didn’t work. 

You didn’t work. 

They didn’t work. 

irregular verb: go

go / went / gone


I didn’t go.

You didn’t go. 

He didn’t go.

She didn’t go. 

It didn’t go.


We didn’t go.

You didn’t go. 

They didn’t go. 

24a. Examples

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  • These boys didn’t go to school last Friday. 
  • They went to the skatepark. 
go / went / gone
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  • He didn’t feel well this morning. 
  • He felt sick. 
feel / felt / felt
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  • We didn’t play golf yesterday.  

  • We played chess. 
play / played / played
24b. These things didn't happen in the past:
  • I didn’t wake up early this morning. I woke up late. 
  • We didn’t visit the state capitol. Instead, we visited the museum. 
  • Mario didn’t go to Colombia. He decided to go to Colombia instead. 
  • The sun didn’t come up until 7:00 a.m. this morning. 
  • The two countries didn’t agree with each other on a very important issue. 
  • Dahlia didn’t have a good time at the party. She had a bad time and went home early. 

It’s possible to use the word “never” instead of “did” + “not” in order to form the negative. In this case, the main verb is in the simple past: 

  • Wally and Hilda never agreed with each other. They always disagreed. 
  • The students never liked their previous teacher. They were happy to get a new teacher. 
  • The mail never came today. What happened to the mail carrier?  
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We didn’t visit the Minnesota State Capitol. Instead, we visited the Weisman Art Museum.

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past tense negative


Part A. Directions: Change each sentence from affirmative to negative:  


  1. I had a good day today. 

                I ____________________________________________________________. 

  1. Sheila went to school this morning.

Sheila ________________________________________________________. 

  1. The bus arrived on time. 

The bus _______________________________________________________. 

  1. It took a long time to finish. 

It _____________________________________________________________.

  1. Jeff knew the answer to the question. 

Jeff ___________________________________________________________. 

  1. They were on time. 

They __________________________________________________________. 

  1. You were happy with the results. 

You ___________________________________________________________. 

  1. Mark walked to school. 

Mark __________________________________________________________. 

  1. The kids ate all of their vegetables. 

The kids _______________________________________________________.

  1. We missed our flight. 

We ___________________________________________________________.

Part B. Directions: Write about two things you didn’t do today: 

In Lesson Twenty-five, you will learn how to make questions in the past tense. 

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