Past Indefinite Tense

Read the following sentences.

  • America became independent in 1776. 
  • George Washington was the first president of America. 

The verbs in these sentences are in the past form. We call it the simple past tense

What is simple past tense? 

Simple past tense is the past form of verbs. 

How to Form Past Simple. 


We form past simple mostly by adding -ed to the verb. We call it regular past tense

  • Charlie Chaplin acted very well. 
  • Micky called in a doctor. 
  • The old man died in his house. 
  • He helped the poor.


Some verbs have irregular past tense. They do not follow any rule or rhythm. So, you must commit them to memory. 

  • We went to the market yesterday. 
  • He did the job well. 
  • I saw him in the market. 
  • He came here last night.


1. With Time Markers 

We use the past simple with definite time adjuncts & definite time adverbial clauses. 

  • Bangladesh became independent in 1971. 
  • She went to market yesterday. 

Definite Time Adjuncts: 

Last night/ week/ month/ year
One year/ five years/ ten years ago
In 1776/ 2020

2. Without Time Markers

We can use simple past without definite time markers if we can understand that the action happened sometime in the past. 

  • Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. 
  • Columbus discovered America. 
  • They came home at night. 
  • I saw a bird in the tree. 

3. Past Habits

We use past simple with a past habit which is not present now. The meaning is similar to used to. 

  • Edison was never absent from school. 
  • He always went to his class timely. 
  • When I lived in the village, I walked in the morning regularly. 

4. With Past Continuous 

When one shorter action comes in the middle of another longer action, we use the shorter action in past simple and the longer action in past continuous. 

  • The accident happened when we were going to school. 
  • While I was swimming in the river, a shark attacked me. 
  • As it was raining outside, we stayed in the room. 

But if the actions happen one after another, we use two past simple verbs. 

  • When I opened the door, I saw Martin.