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English for Beginners: Lesson 6 – Once upon a time in London

  • August 24, 2021
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Sometimes we want to say something about yesterday or the past. To recollect what we did before, we are going to study the past tense.
Think about when you need to use the past tense. You meet your best friend after a year, and he asks you how it happened that you haven’t spoken for a whole year. You don’t know what to say and try to explain everything in the past: “You know, I had a lot of work on… I was busy with my children. I did all I could so as not to meet you… just joking!”

To form the past indefinite tense we add “ed” or “d” to the end of the infinitive form of the verb:
I look at you. I looked at you.
You wash your hands every day. You washed your hands just now.
We visit the museum today. We visited the museum yesterday.
Brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière invented cinema.
Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa.
Maybe she smiled at him, and he loved her at once.
Was it the famous love at first sight?

There are some irregular verbs in the past tense, but you may not need all the irregular verbs in your everyday speech.

The cause of their departure from the norm is their frequent usage. I can’t tell you that I always speak correctly, and many people do not, but this has happened because of changing accents and pronunciation over the centuries. Our ancestors who used words differently have left us with some irregularities!

Let’s look through the most used irregular verbs and try to learn them by heart:

present tense
I am

past tense
I was
You/We/They are
He/She is
You/We/They were
He/She was

This verb is so common that you will have heard it somewhere in the past tense.

For the rest of the irregular verbs in Past Indefinite, we have one form:

I/You/We/They have…

had past tense
She/He has had past tense


I/You/We/They know

knew past tense
She/He knows knew past tense


I/You/We/They come

came past tense
She/He comes came past tense


I/You/We/They do

did past tense
She/He does di dpast tense


I/You/We/They make

madepast tense
She/He makes made past tense


I/You/We/They go

went past tense
She/He goes went past tense

There are verb groups that have similar forms in the past tense:

I/You/We/They get

got past tense
She/He forget forgot past tense


I/You/We/They draw

drew past tense
I/You/We/They fly flew past tense
I/You/We/They grow grew past tense


I/You/We/They bring

brought past tense
I/You/We/They catch caught past tense
I/You/We/They sing thought past tense

There are verb groups that remain the same in the past:


present tense I/You/We/They put

put past tense
present tense I/You/We/They hit hit past tense
present tense I/You/We/They cut cut past tense
present tense I/You/We/They read read past tense

The best thing here is that when we need to ask questions, give short or negative answers, or make a negative sentence, we use the auxiliary verb to do in its past form did (or to be when needed in its past form was/were):Who was that man you spoke to? That was a friend of mine.

Who was that man you spoke to? That was a friend of mine.
Did you paint the room? Yes, I did.
Did she wash her hands before eating? Yes, she did.
Did I watch TV last night? No, I didn’t.
We didn’t go to Paris yesterday. We went there the day before yesterday.
John didn’t make this bracelet. Helene made it.
What did I ask you?

Let’s study the rule for making negative and interrogative sentences.

To make a question, we take the verb to do (or to be when needed) in the past and place it before the pronoun:

When did you write your first book?
I did it when I was nineteen.
Did it rain yesterday?
Yes, it did.


Did they go out last week?
No, they did not.
Was he wrong?
No, he was right.


To make a negative sentence, we take the verb to do (or to be when needed) in the past and place it after the pronoun:

I didn’t write before I was nineteen.
I didn’t think about writing before.
I did not buy my book in the bookstore.
I was not old enough to know how to sell my book.

That’s easy, isn’t it?

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