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Lesson 23
the past tense

the past tense

The past tense is used for things that happened yesterday, this morning, a week ago, last year, 10,000 years ago,  or a few minutes ago. 


The Past Tense in English

In the past tense, the verb has only one form. This makes it a little easier to use than the present tense. 

23a. the past tense - regular verbs

Regular verbs adds “ed” to the end of the verb in the past tense. 

work / worked / worked / working


I worked

You worked

He worked. 

She worked. 

It worked. 


We worked. 

You worked. 

They worked. 

23a. Examples

receptionists, phone call, hotel-5975962.jpg
  • Walter and Maria worked yesterday. 
  • Maria also worked on the weekend. 
  • They work for a hotel. (present tense). 

Irregular verbs in English do not normally have “ed” endings. You have to remember what they are in the past tense. For example, the verb “eat” in the past tense becomes “ate.” The verb “go” in the past tense becomes “went.” 

23b. the past tense - irregular verbs

Irregular verbs do not add an “ed” in the past tense. 

It’s important to memorize how irregular verbs change. 

swim / swam / swum / swimming


I swam. 

You swam. 

He swam.

She swam.

It swam. 


We swam. 

You swam.

They swam. 

23b. Examples

otter, nature, water marten-7307280.jpg
  • The otter swam to the other side of the pond. 
  •  He found a frog to eat. 
  • He ate the frog. 

it’s necessary to remember how irregular verbs change from one form to another. You can find a list of irregular verbs by clicking here

These things happened in the past:
  • I woke up early this morning and prepared breakfast. 
  • We visited the Minnesota State Capitol last week. 
  • Mario traveled to Europe last year and visited six different countries. 
  • The sun rose this morning at 6:10 a.m. 
  • The American Revolution started in 1776. 
  • Sophia had a great time at her birthday party last weekend. 

The word “ago” is often used when talking about past activities: 

  • Edgar had lunch an hour ago.
  • The United States became a country almost 250 years ago. 
  • Our class began ten minutes ago. 
weisman art museum, minneapolis, minnesota-395049.jpg

We visited the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis a few days ago. 

In Lesson Twenty-four, you will learn how to make the past tense negative. 

This page was first published in April of 2024. 

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