Simple Past Worksheets

These worksheets will help you practice the simple past tense in English. First, we will review the uses and formation of the simple past with some examples, and then you can practice with the illustrated exercises below.

If you are looking for more practice with the simple past tense, our Simple Past Stories and Exercises booklet has everything you need: complete explanations and five fun stories full of examples of the simple past tense, plus exercises on grammar, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing.

We use the simple past tense to talk about actions that happened in the past. We often say when the action happened.

Regular and Irregular Verbs

Most verbs in English are regular verbs. This means that to form the simple past with these verbs, we simply add -ed to the end of the verb.

For example:

  • walk --> walked
  • watch --> watched
  • listen --> listened
  • play --> played

But there are also some irregular verbs in English that have a different simple past tense form. There are many of them, but you should start with some of the most common ones.

For example:

  • go --> went
  • have --> had
  • eat --> ate
  • write --> wrote
  • leave --> left
  • take --> took
  • give --> gave

The most common irregular verb is be.

  • I / he / she / it was
  • You / we / they were

Statements

Statements or positive sentences in the simple past have the following structure:

For example:

  • Alex traveled to Morocco.
  • We watched an interesting film.
  • They asked us lots of questions.
  • She called very early.

Negative Sentences

To make negative sentences in the simple past tense, we use did not or the contraction didn't (this is more informal). We use the base form of the verb without -ed.

  • Subject + did not + verb

For example:

  • They did not have enough money to buy tickets.
  • We did not have breakfast this morning.
  • He did not finish his homework.
  • I didn't understand the presentation.

Questions

To form questions in the simple past, we use did and the base form of the verb. This is the structure:

  • Did + subject + verb

For example:

  • Did you enjoy the party?
  • Did they buy bread at the store?
  • Did she swim in the ocean?
  • Did you learn to play the guitar?

You can learn more about different kinds of questions in English here.

Typical Time Expressions

We often say when an action happened in the past. 

Here are some examples of time expressions that we typically use with the simple past tense:

  • an hour ago
  • last year / week / month
  • two days ago
  • last Tuesday
  • in March / 1976
  • yesterday
  • when I was young

Exercise A: Regular and Irregular Verbs

Complete the sentences below with the simple past of the verb in parentheses. Some are irregular verbs.

1. 

He ________________ (write) about his adventures.

2.

He ________________ (give) her a beautiful diamond ring. 

3. 

She _________________ (look) at the map.

4.

She ________________ (go) home to relax.

5.

They _______________ (play) together yesterday.

Exercise B: Negative Sentences

Change the following statements into negative sentences.

1. Harriet organized her closet last week.

____________________________________________________________________. 

2. The children ate their dinner at 6:00pm.

____________________________________________________________________. 

3. I had trouble with this project.

____________________________________________________________________.

4. He cooked a delicious meal for us.

____________________________________________________________________. 

5. They listened to that CD six times.

____________________________________________________________________.

Exercise C: Questions

Write questions for the pictures below. Use the subject and verb in parentheses.

1.

_______________________ (he / finish) his ice cream cone?

2.

_______________________ (Ellen / enjoy) the day at the beach?

3.

____________________ (Ernie / decorate) the house?

4.

_____________________ (she / lose) the tennis match?

5.

___________________ (she / clean) her office?

Exercise D: Typical Time Expressions

Complete the sentences with one of the time expressions from the list below based on the information under each picture.

  • when they were young
  • last month
  • two days ago
  • an hour ago
  • yesterday

1. 

This is my new cat! Today is Thursday. I adopted my cat on Tuesday.

I adopted her _____________________.

2.

We are in English class. This is our second day of class.

We started our English class _____________________.

3.

It is May. She played a basketball game in April.

She played a basketball game ____________________.

4.

It is 9:00am. She cooked breakfast at 8:00am.

She cooked breakfast ____________________.

5.

They are adults now. They lived in the same town many years ago.

They lived in the same town _____________________.

Answer Key

Exercise A: Regular and irregular verbs

1. He wrote about his adventures.

2. He gave her a beautiful diamond ring.

3. She looked at the map.

4. She went home to relax.

5. They played together yesterday.


Exercise B: Negative sentences

1. Harriet did not organize her closet last week.

2. The children did not eat their dinner at 6:00pm.

3. I did not have trouble with this project.

4. He did not cook a delicious meal for us.

5. They did not listen to that CD six times.


Exercise C: Questions

1. Did he finish his ice cream cone?

2. Did Ellen enjoy the day at the beach?

3. Did Ernie decorate the house?

4. Did she lose the tennis match?

5. Did she clean her office?


Exercise D: Typical time expressions

1. I adopted her two days ago.

2. We started our English class yesterday.

3. She played a basketball game last month.

4. She cooked breakfast an hour ago.

5. They lived in the same town when they were young.