Past Simple Tense

What is It?

The past simple tense is used to express the notion that an action began and was completed at a certain time in the past. At times, the speaker may not tell the specific time, but he or she has a particular time in mind.

When to Use (with Examples)

Completed events in the past with no ties with the present:

Robert Frost wrote thousands of poems.
Genghis Khan invaded Ukraine.

With a word that shows that something has finished (yesterday, last week, at 2 o’clock, in 2003):

I went to the theater yesterday.
We visited Ecuador in 2008.

For stories and lists of things that happened:

He went to a library, sat down, and read a book about fairies.
Yesterday, I went to the cinema, met a friend for dinner, and played street chess.

Details of news:

I’ve hurt my arm. I fell down some stairs when I was doing yoga poses.
I’ve been on holiday. I went to Russia and China for three weeks each.

Part of the second conditional:
If I won a million dollars, I would give it all to charity.
If I knew how to fight, I would get revenge for my father’s death.


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