Lesson 10 - Past Tense




Eric phones Tom to tell him about his vacation at a nearby lake.

Eric: Hi Tom. How's it going?

Tom: Good. How was your vacation?

Eric: Great! We went hiking in the forest, and kayaking around the lake. We were very lucky with the weather, it was sunny and warm every day.

Tom: How many people were there?

Eric: There were five of us.

Tom: Where did you stay?

Eric: We rented a cabin at the south end of the lake. It was right on the lake, with a small beach in front. It came with a kayak and wood for the fire pit on the beach. I had such a great time that I want to go again next summer. Maybe you can come with us next time.

Tom: That sounds great!

Vocabulary and Phrases

Listen How many people were there?
Listen at a nearby lake
Listen We went hiking in the forest, and kayaking around the lake.
Listen beach
Listen cabin
Listen to phone
Listen to tell
Listen fire pit
Listen kayak
Listen lucky
Listen to rent
Listen to come with
Listen south
Listen to stay
Listen vacation
Listen wood



Listen weather
Listen cloud
Listen heat
Listen rain
Listen snow
Listen storm
Listen sun
Listen wind
Listen How's the weather?
Listen It's a beautiful day.
Listen It's cold.
Listen It's cool outside.
Listen It's foggy.
Listen It's hot.
Listen It's humid.
Listen It's raining.
Listen It's snowing.
Listen It's stormy.
Listen It's sunny.
Listen It's windy.
Listen It's very windy today.
Listen The weather's bad.
Listen The weather's nice.
Listen It's supposed to be nice tomorrow.
snow It is snowing sun cloud rain


Past Tense of Verbs

The past tense of verbs, also called the simple past tense, describes a past action, event, or emotional state. Most verbs form the past tense by adding the suffix ed to the end of a verb. For example the past tense of walk is walked.


I walked to the park yesterday.
She talked about her vacation.
He closed the door.
They talked about the cabin.
We hoped for the best.
The clouds drifted away.

Irregular Verbs in the Past Tense

Many very common verbs in English have an irregular past tense. This lesson will cover a few of these very common irregular verbs. The next lesson will cover some more irregular verbs as well.

To Be

The verb be is the most irregular verb in English. It has two forms in the past tense. The following table shows the past tense for the verb be.

I was
he was
she was
it was
we were
you were
they were


I was at the store.
He was tired.
They were happy.
We were at home.
Were they at the beach?
They were not at the beach.
The car was dirty.
The windows were dirty.

Other Irregular Verbs

The following table shows some very common verbs that are irregular in the past tense. Lesson 11 will cover even more irregular verbs.

Verb Past Tense
do did
have had
go went
sleep slept
come came
give gave
find found
think thought


They went to the store last week.
He thought about it.
I slept all night.
We did the work.
They found it.
She found the book.
I did the dishes.
They slept on the floor.

Questions and Negative Statements with the Past Tense

For both questions and negative statements, the past tense of the helper verb do is used along with the main verb, similar to how do is used as a helper verb when asking questions or making negative statements in the present tense.

Note: Did not is often shortened to didn't.


Did they go to the store?
They did not go to the store.
They didn't go to the store.
Did you sleep all night?
I did not sleep all night.
Did she find the book?
She did not find the book.
Did you buy it?
We did not buy it.
They did not do it.

A very small number of verbs, such as be, do not use a helper verb when asking a question or making a negative statement. The following examples show how to ask questions and make negative statements with the verb be.

Were you tired?
I was not tired.
I wasn't tired.
Was the house for sale?
The house was not for sale.
The house wasn't for sale.
Were the dishes clean?
The dishes were not clean.
The dishes weren't clean.


Reading English

Chapter 1 - The Airport

Ana and Alejandro Martinez walk off the plane and into the airport. Both are tired from the flight, but also excited to be in a new country. They follow the crowd of people until they get to the lineup for customs. After about ten minutes, it is their turn to talk with the customs agent.

"Hello," Ana says as she gives the customs officer her passport.

"What is the purpose of your visit?" asks the customs officer.

"We are taking a course to help us improve our English."

"How long will you be staying in Vancouver?"

"We plan to stay until September fifth."

"Where are you staying?"

"We have friends who live here," Alejandro answered. "We met them when they visited our country. They invited us to stay with them for the summer, and recommended a course for us to take."

"What is your relationship?"

"Ana is my sister," Alejandro replied.

The customs officer gave them back their passports and said, "Enjoy your stay."

"Thank you", Ana and Alejandro said at the same time, then went to find their luggage.

They stood by the luggage carousel and waited for their luggage. "Is that your suitcase?" Ana said pointing at a black suitcase.

Alejandro looked at it. "I don't think so, but here is yours."

Ana grabbed her suitcase as it came by. A couple minutes later Alejandro got his suitcase as well.

"Now where do we go?", Ana asked.

"I think we need to go this way," Alejandro replied, pointing to the left.

They walked through a small passage and into a large waiting area.

"Alejandro! Ana!" they heard someone call.

Ana and Alejandro looked and saw their friends Sarah and Eric. They waved and walked over to them.

"Hi!" Sarah said. "How was the flight?"

"Long," said Alejandro. "But there were no problems."

"Let's go," Eric said, "We'll take you back to our house, and make dinner while you get settled in."

The four of them walked out of the airport, and into the sunny evening.

English Vocabulary

Enjoy your stay.
get settled in


Change each sentence so that it uses the past tense.

Example - Question: I do the work. Answer: I did the work.

I want to go to the store.
The boy is sad.
She doesn't want a coffee.
Do you have a pen?
They walk to the park.

Write about your favorite vacation, or a vacation you would like to go on.


Take the online quiz to see how well you know the past tense of verbs in English.

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