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Step by step English grammar! Verbs ~ past tense

Step by step English grammar. Verbs ~ past tense

In this awesome post, you will learn how to use the simple past tense with confidence. 
*The basics are the most important part of your English grammar and communication study. They are the foundation of your language.

Past tense verbs

Please read the following passage ↓

Mark Twain was an American writer. He lived from 1835 to 1910. He wrote many popular books and traveled across Europe and America. 

Was, lived, wrote and traveled are verbs in the simple past tense.

Past tense verbs often end with _ed. These are called regular verbs.
  • He lived from 1835 to 1910.
  • Mark Twain traveled across Europe and America.
Other examples:
  • We played volleyball after school.
  • Lois and Meg talked for hours.


In English, there are many verbs whose past tense doesn't end with _edThese are called irregular verbs.
  • Mark Twain was an American writer. (Was is the past tense singular form of the verb to be.)
  • He wrote many popular books. (Wrote is the past tense of write.)
Other examples:
  • I bought a new computer yesterday. (Bought is the past tense of buy.)
  • We saw a great movie on Friday, it was about Mark Twain. (Saw is the past tense of see.)

😉Find 50 common irregular English verbs with example sentences at the end of this post. 

Simple past tense rules

① Negative verb forms and questions in the past tense use the auxiliary verb doThe main verb will be in simple present tense.

Negative past tense statements use did not, didn't. 

  • Mark Twain didn't go to university. (Not didn't went)
  • The computer sale is over soon so I didn't want to wait. (Not didn't wanted)

Past tense questions use did you? - did he/she/it etc.

  • Did Mark Twain live in Australia? (Not did he lived?)
  • Did you buy a Mac or a PC? (Not did you bought?)

② When do is the main verb we will use this grammar:
Did do. Didn't do.

A: "What did you do on Saturday?"
B: "I didn't do anything. My day was boring."

The best (and only) way to learn irregular verbs in their past tense is to memorize them. I have included a list below with some natural examples make them easy to remember.

Common irregular verbs

Below is a list of the 50 most common irregular verbs in English from esl lounge.

English irregular verb examples

1. say said
“Yancy said she would be here by 6:00.”

2. make made
“I hope she gets here soon, I made reservations for 6:30 at the restaurant.”

3. go went
“Maybe she went to the bank after work?”

4. take took
“If she took the local streets she will be late. The roads are always crowded around this time.”

5. come came
“Last week she came here after work and the traffic was fine.”

6. see saw
“I just saw her pull into the driveway.”

7. know knew
“I knew Yancy would be here on time!”

8. get got
“I got an email from Peter this morning, he’s back from his vacation.”

9. give gave
“Yes, he gave me a call from the airport last night when he arrived. I went there to pick him up.”

10. find found
“The airport was so busy! I finally found him after 15 minutes of searching.”

11. think thought
“I thought Peter would be on vacation for 3 weeks.”

12. tell told
“He told me that he would only stay for 12 days.”

13. become became
“He just became a division manager so he can’t be away from the office for too long.”

14. show showed
“On the drive home from the airport, he showed some photos from his trip.” *Show is an irregular verb because the past participle is shown not showed. Other regular verbs whose past tense is _ed use the same form for the past participle.

15. leave left
“Hawaii is so beautiful, You must have been sad when you left.”

16. feel felt
“I felt sad every time I left the beach! Relaxing on the beach is my favorite thing to do.”

17. put put
“Peter had to buy an extra duffel bag for all the souvenirs he bought for his staff. First, he put them in his suitcase, but then his clothes wouldn’t fit!”

18. bring brought
“He is so kind! He brought back a lot of treats for his co-workers.”

English irregular verb examples

19. begin began
“After working for 6 hours without a break, Lisa began to get very hungry.”

20. keep kept
“We kept telling her to relax a little, but Lisa really wants to finish this project.”

21. hold held
“Our boss held a meeting to explain how important this project is to the company.”

22. write wrote
“As the project manager, Lisa wrote a 3-page memo detailing everyone’s tasks.”

23. stand stood
“At the meeting, Lisa stood behind our boss taking notes.”

24. hear heard
“She heard everything he said very clearly.”

25. let let
“She works hard, so this morning I let her have the last donut in the staff break room.”

26. mean meant
“Sorry, I meant to say danish, not donut.”

27. meet met
“After the meeting, the team met at a local restaurant to have dinner together.”

28.set set
“The whole project team was at the restaurant, the staff set the table for 18 people. It was a big table!”

29. run ran
“It was a big dinner so I ran home to burn some calories.”

30. pay paid
“It was a great dinner, and our company paid for everything!”

31. sit sat
“Eric was very quiet during dinner. He sat in the corner and didn't say anything.”

32. speak spoke
“Almost every member of the team spoke about their contribution to the project.”

33. lie lay
“3 nights ago I lay in bed thinking about what I would say at the meeting.”

English irregular verb examples

34. lead led
“It was my first to time in Tokyo so I was happy to have a guide. He led the way during our trip.”

35. read read
“I read 6 books about Tokyo before my trip.”
*Be careful, the spelling for the past tense is the same as the present tense but they are pronounced differently.
Present tense - read ~ REED
Past tense - read ~ RED

36. grow grew
“No one took care of my garden while I was away and weeds grew everywhere.”

37. lose lost
“My favorite team lost an important game last night. I'm sad today.”

38. fall fell
“I was so nervous watching the game I fell off my chair!”

39. send sent
“My friend sent me a message right after the game to tease me. (He likes the other team!)”

40. build built
“I wish my local team had more support from the community. They built a new arena last summer but not enough people are coming to live games.”

41. understand understood
“I tried to explain to my friends that it's important to support the team, but I don't think they understood why.”

English irregular verb examples

42. draw drew
“I drew a picture for my student to help explain the meaning of the new word.”

43. break broke
“I pressed the pencil so hard that I broke it!”

44. spend spent
“I spent the next 5 minutes trying to find a new pencil.”

45. cut cut
“I reached into my desk looking for a pencil and I cut my finger on a utility knife.”

46. rise rose
“I shouted 'ouch!’ and my student rose from her desk to see what was wrong.”

47. drive drove
“I didn't have any bandages so we drove to the pharmacy to buy some.”

48. buy bought
“I bought a big box of band-aids.”

49. wear wore
“It was raining so I wore a rain jacket to the pharmacy.”

50. choose chose
“I chose a family size box, it has 50 band-aids in 4 different shapes.”


More great English blog posts below

Vocabulary Shots! 6 posts, 1 new meaning each - Questions from real students!

Click the images 🖰 to see each blog post↓

Are you confident to use this adjective correctly?
Can you see yourself using it in the future?


Have you ever bought something that was low-end?
Did you regret it after?


Can you get in trouble if you trespass?
Can you use the verb smell like a native speaker?


English grammar resource
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🖰Click below🠋

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Sweetener - root word practice (2018 English vocabulary)

~ I like to cook, and while I was looking at some new recipes I saw a sweetener called "stevia" that seemed to be popular. I did some research and I found that it has been used in Canada and America recently, but it has been used in Japan for more than 30 years! When I asked my students if they have heard about stevia we talked about sweeteners. 

"What is a sweetener?"


The word sweet is an easy and common word, so sweetener is a good example to use.

Root word technique

The root word is the base (root) of a new word. The root word is sometimes a word that we already understand, this can help us learn the meaning of the new word. 

The root word of sweetener is sweet.

We know the meaning of the adjective sweet already, it describes a taste. 
"Sugar and honey are sweet."
Sweet can also be used as a noun (usually, a plural noun sweets) to mean candy. 
"My dentist said I eat too many sweets!" = I eat too much candy.
Sweeten is a verb that means: to make something sweet
"Many people use sugar to sweeten their coffee. Black coffee is too bitter for most people."
(Bitter is the opposite of sweet, but we never use bitteren as a verb!)

So now we understand sweeten, how about our new word sweetener? Let's look at some other verbs that have "er" added at the end and see what they mean.

In baseball, the person who throws (pitches) the ball is called the pitcher. The person who hits (bats) the ball is the batter and the one who catches the ball is...? 
That's right! 
The catcher
*And not only for people, the machine that dries our hair is a hair dryer, the machine that mixes (blends) our food and drinks is a blender.

More examples of the English suffix ~er plus advance vocabulary here: Increase your English vocabulary with the suffix ~ER

What do you think a sweetener does? It makes things taste SWEET!

When we use sweetener we are most often talking about one that has fewer calories than sugar. An artificial (not natural) sweetener.

Please look at the infographic below for more examples of words made from the root word SWEET.

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Do you know the difference between HOPE and WISH? Learn here! (2018)

Do you know the difference between HOPE and WISH? Learn here!



*definitions and examples are from
hope verb - to want something to happen and think that it is possible

hope (for something
"We are hoping for good weather on Sunday."
~ It's possible to have good weather on Sunday and that is what we want.

"All we can do now is wait and hope."
~ A positive outcome or result is possible and it's what we want.

A: "Will you be back before dark?"
B: "I hope so, yes."
~ Returning before it get's dark is possible and I would like to do that.

I hope to be back before dark
I hope I can get home before dark.

"The exam went better than I hoped."
~ I wanted to do well on my exam, I did even better than I wanted.

A: "Do you think it will rain?"
B: "I hope not, but I brought my folding umbrella just in case."
~ I don't want it to rain but I will bring my folding umbrella because rain is possible.

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wish verb - to want something to happen or to be true even though it is unlikely or impossible

wish (that)… 
"I wish I was taller." (I wish that I was taller.)
~ In this example we can imagine the person talking is an adult so they have stopped growing. It's not possible to become taller.

"I wish I hadn't eaten so much."
~ In this example wish + not done something shows regret. We regret a past action. It's impossible to go back in time and not do an action.

Ohhh... Why did I eat so much...

A: "Where is Jim now?’" 

B: "I only wish I knew!"
~ I want to know where Jim is but I don't.

"I wish you wouldn't leave your clothes all over the floor."
~ In this example we can imagine a mother talking to her son. It's unlikely that he will change his habit of being messy, even though she wants him to.

I wish you wouldn't leave your clothes all over the floor
I wish you'd (you would) clean up your room!

🡇Check out these other great posts🡇

English Idiom - You get what you pay for!
+ Adverbs of probability 

English grammar - Other or Another? 
(+ Learn 2 idioms with ANOTHER)

How to use Neither and Either
(Interactive QUIZ too!)

Try some English videos too!



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📚 Learn  50 common English phrasal verbs  What is a phrasal verb? ~ In English, a phrasal verb is a combination (mixture) of ...

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